There’s a vast area in Alaska’s Katmai National Park known as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes where, even 100 years after a cataclysmic eruption, the landscape still bears the scars. Brimming with adventurous possibility and inviting exploration, Katmai’s Valley of 10,000 Smokes is a backpackers dream. Rimmed with active, glaciated volcanoes, and blanketed with a hiker-friendly surface of sand and ash from the massive 1912 eruption, the Valley is a must-see for anyone with a “peak” experience in mind. After flying from Anchorage to King Salmon, you and your guide(s) will then hop in a float plane for the bush flight from King Salmon to the world famous Brooks Camp where we’ll spend the night in the local campground.
Here you’ll have the chance to witness the annual bear viewing spectacle, before heading out to the valley by bus on Day 3. From the 3 Forks visitor center we will begin our circumnavigation of the valley floor, with stops along the way to attempt non-technical ascents of Broken Mountain, Fallen Mountain, Baked Mountian, Cerebrus, and maybe even Mt. Griggs. Join Alaska Alpine Adventures for a backpacking adventure in Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and experience wilderness like nowhere else on Earth.
Backpacking in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park is simply a trip of a lifetime. Near the end of the Alaska Peninsula and along the crest of the Pacific Rim of fire, there sits a National Park of legend and lore. This park, Katmai, is home to the largest brown bear population in the world, holds the spawning grounds of literally millions of sockeye salmon, and contains within its wild borders the unaltered evidence of one of the world’s most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded.
Your trip begins today in Anchorage, Alaska. You’ll be staying at the Aloft Anchorage Hotel. You can arrive anytime and transfer to the hotel on their complimentary shuttle. Depending on your arrival time, the remainder of the day is yours to relax after your flight or to explore some of the city’s notable sites including the Anchorage Museum of History & Art or the city Park Strip. This afternoon, you’ll meet your guide at 5pm and head to our Anchorage facility for an orientation and gear check, followed by a group dinner featuring gourmet pizza and local craft brews. The orientation will include a discussion of the route, an introduction to our unique style of Alaska wilderness travel, a familiarization of the principles of Leave No Trace, and a conversation about traveling safely in bear country.
After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll meet your guides, load up and transfer to the airport for the flight flight to King Salmon, a small fishing town on the Naknek River near the Bering Sea coast. Once in King Salmon, you’ll gather gear, and board a float plane bound for Brooks Camp. Here, you’ll have a chance to view the famous brown bears of the Brooks River, camp at the famous campground, and prepare for tomorrow’s bus ride into the Valley.
After breaking camp and adjusting our packs, we board the Valley of 10,000 Smokes bus and leave this outpost of civilization behind. The 26-mile bus ride will take you along Margot Creek, through a beautiful boreal forest, across two more creeks, and eventually to the Three Forks Visitor Center. It will be here that we leave the rest of the tourists behind, and step foot into the Katmai wilderness. The Valley’s eerie landscape reflects the power of the eruption that buried the valley floor under 700 feet of pumice and ash and dotted the surface of this lunar-like topography with thousands of steam vents (fumaroles). Nearly a century of harsh weather has enhanced the beauty of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and one can now gaze into river canyons hundreds of feet deep where the layers of pumice and ash have been slowly eroded by the channeled rain and snow melt. As we hoist our packs and head to the valley floor, we will immediately see the effect that this powerful and historic event had on the landscape. Our goal today will be the clear water of Mageik Lake – 12 miles from our drop-off. On the way, we’ll be sure to revel in our surroundings and enjoy the route between the Buttress Range and the slot canyon that is the River Lethe. We’ll have the glaciated Mt. Mageik in our sights throughout the day. As we enjoy our first meal in the valley, we’ll discuss efficient climbing techniques and our upcoming hikes of the peaks within our view shed.
We’ll spend the next few days exploring the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. If the weather is kind and our legs primed, we’ll attempt non-technical ascents of Falling Mountain, both Baked & Broken Mountans, Cerebrus and perhaps even Mt. Griggs – summits that will give you amazing views of the valley floor, Novarupta, and the glaciated peaks of the Aleutian Range. While success achieving all these summits is slim and often prevented by inclement weather in the high mountains, the Valley always reveals amazing secrets and absolutely breathtaking landscapes. Regardless of the final summit tally, you’ll enjoy a backpacking adventure of a lifetime exploring this most amazing and highly regarded national park.
After enjoying a final night at Juhle Creek, a clearwater stream that forms an oasis at the rim of the valley beneath Griggs Volcano, we’ll trek the final miles to our pick-up point at Three Forks, and celebrate the accomplishment of circumnavigating this unique and amazing geologic oddity. The bus will deposit us back at Brooks Camp and an awaiting float plane. The flight out should yield one last sighting of the amazing bruins that call the Brooks River home. From King Salmon, we’ll catch a flight back to Anchorage. If you are leaving Alaska on this day, please make certain that you schedule all homebound flights from Anchorage for after 10 pm. Better yet, opt to spend another night in Anchorage.
- All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
- Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
- Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
- Trekking poles
- Complementary airport transfer
- Lodging on night one at a local B&B or hotel in Anchorage
- Roundtrip air transportation from Anchorage to King Salmon
- Roundtrip floatplane transportation from King Salmon to Brooks Camp
- Roundtrip Bus transportation from Brooks Camp to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
- Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
- All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
- Storage for your extra travel items while in the field
Alaska Factor: The Real Deal
While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.
Everything was great! Thanks you for an incredible experience. I will miss the bears, cubs, and the fox family that resided on the hill above our campsite!
Excellent. Surpassed my expectations of bear viewing and photography. Landscape and the general camping experience also was better than expected. Jenny, the guide, also displayed excellent judgment at all times and was remarkably able to accommodate and put at ease the various personality types in the group. All around excellent company.
Everything about the trip that was planned with AAA was top notch. AAA was very well organized and I didn’t have to worry about any of the details. It was the most care-free, worry-free and intense backpacking trip I’ve ever experienced!
The guides were wonderful, very knowledgeable of outdoor life, considerate of all members of the group, great cooks and so much fun to be with, just like family.
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Backpacking in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park is a trip of a lifetime. Near the end of the Alaska Peninsula and along the crest of the Pacific Rim of fire there sits a National Park of legend and lore. This park, Katmai, is home to the largest brown bear population in the world, holds the spawning grounds of literally millions of sockeye salmon, and contains within its wild borders the unaltered evidence of one of the world’s most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded. What remains today is a vast area known as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and, even nearly 90 years after the cataclysmic eruption, the landscape still bears the scars. Brimming with adventurous possibility and inviting exploration, Katmai’s Valley of 10,000 Smokes is a backpackers dream.
The Valley of 10,000 Smokes and the 3.5 Million Acre Katmai National Park it’s contained within lies the end of the Alaska Peninsula at the crest of the Pacific Rim of fire. This remote park is over 200 air miles south west of Anchorage.
Access to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes in Katmai National Park and Preserve is solely by small aircraft or, in some instances, by boat.
Absolutely, our trips are all inclusive from Anchorage. All you need to do is get yourself to Anchorage on Day 1 of your itinerary. All flights are included with this trip.
Your guide(s) will meet you at 5pm at the Aloft Hotel in Anchorage for an orientation dinner of local pizza and craft brews. They will also do a gear check, so make sure you bring your backpack and complete kit.
Your guides will meet you at the hotel 1.5 hours prior to your flight. You’ll fly with your guides commercially to King Salmon, Alaska with either Alaska Airlines or Pen Air. From there, we’ll be flying with Katmai Air from King Salmon to the famous Brooks Camp, the access point for the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.
Absolutely. Katmai National Park is home to grizzly, coastal brown, and black bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds. We’ll spend the afternoon of day 2 viewing the famous brown bears of the Brooks River.
Yes, there is an additional fee of $275 if you request OR end up in your own room at the hotel on night one.
For additional information, please reach out to us.