The Valley Experience
Katmai National Park

The Valley Experience - Katmai National Park

What remains today is a vast area known as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and, even 100 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.  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.

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will.  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.”  Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

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Trip Details

DURATION 10 days
LENGTH 50+ miles
INTENSITY Level 3
SEASON Summer
BEGINS IN Anchorage
ENDS IN Anchorage
AIRPORT Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
WILDLIFE/
SCENERY
bears, moose, eagles, Mt. Katmai
Price$4,350
Youth Price$4,350
Great ForExplorers Couples Individuals

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.

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • 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
Day
1

Your trip begins today in Anchorage, Alaska.  You can arrive at any time and enjoy our complimentary airport shuttle.  You’ll be staying at the Susitna Place or the Copper Whale Inn, which are both located close to the airport and adjacent to downtown Anchorage.  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 4pm 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.  Dinner & accommodations included.

Day
2

After a sumptuous breakfast at the B&B, you’ll meet your guide, 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.  All meals included.  Distance: 2-3 miles, Elevation Gain: 200'

Day
3

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 viewshed.  All meals included.  Distance: 8-12 miles, Elevation Gain 500'

Day
4-9

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.  All meals included.  Average daily distance: 8-10 miles, Average daily elevation gain: 3000'-5000'

Day
10

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.  Breakfast & lunch included.  Distance: 12 miles, Elevation Gain: 1000'

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will.  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.”  Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

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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!
Ann Gill
Trip Highlights:
  • Experiencing the surreal moonscape scenery of the Valley
  • Scouting for steam coming from the dome of recently erupted Novarupta
  • Photographing the kaleidoscope of colors in the pumice following a rain storm


Need more details? Download a detailed itinerary of this trip

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