Katmai’s Coveted Brooks Lodge Rooms

Katmai National Park in Alaska was initially set aside as a national monument because of the massive 1912 volcanic eruption. Today, Katmai is more famous for its excellent bear viewing on the Brooks River. Besides camping, the Brooks Lodge rooms are the only accommodations on park lands and near the legendary Brooks Falls.

Bear looking a salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park.
Brooks Falls

Brooks Lodge is near where the Brooks River flows into Naknek Lake. Three platforms are near the lodge for bear viewing. This location is ideal for wildlife watching.

Brown bear walking on gravel road in Katmai National Park

Bristol Aventures (formerly known as Katmailand) serves as the park concessionaire and manages Brooks Lodge.

The only way to get to Brooks Lodge is by boat or float plane.

The Lottery

Unfortunately, Brooks Lodge rooms are extremely limited. There are only 16 available! Brooks Lodge implemented a lottery system to manage demand. 

Brown wooden buildings of Brooks Lodge nestled in the trees
Brooks Lodge, 99613

Guests wishing to stay in the coveted Brooks Lodge rooms must complete an online application. A random drawing is held for access to reservations.

Brown bear sitting by the river in Katmai National Park
By the Brooks River

If you want to enter the Brooks Lodge rooms lottery, you must enter long before the travel dates (around 18+ months). For example, the deadline for summer 2024 applications was December 2022.

Brown bear walking in water in Katmai National Park

Applicants are allowed to select more than one date option to increase the chances of availability. In addition, you can opt to include air transportation from Anchorage and tour add-ons like the Valley of 10,000 Smokes at the time of application.

We applied in December 2021 for the summer of 2023. (There were 1943 applications.) We received an application confirmation informing us that we would hear something between January 3 and February 4.

Brown bear swimming in river
Swimming in the Brooks River

On January 5, Bristol Adventures emailed us. Our application was drawn 24th, so we received our first choice of dates. 

A 50% deposit was due within 7 days of notification to secure the reservation. The cost is only an estimate and is based on the current pricing (2022 price for estimating 2023.) Bristol Adventures let us know they expected a price increase for 2023.

2 brown bears fighting in river
Sparring in the Brooks River

In January 2023, we received the final invoice. We experienced a price 24% increase. So be sure to carefully review the cancellation policies before paying the deposit! The final payment was due 90 days before the trip.

Brown bear standing on hind legs in Katmai National Park

Brooks Lodge Rooms

Brooks Lodge has 2 types of rooms: Individual cabins and Skytel (motel-style) rooms. Cabins and the Skytel rooms are clustered around the lodge dining and gathering room. On the inside, they are essentially the same. Guests cannot choose their room type.

Brooks Lodge Rooms - Skytel building. A wooden building, green room, and several room doors.
Skytel Rooms

Accommodations are basic but clean and comfortable.

Looking between Brooks Lodge cabins at the water.

Rooms can accommodate 4 people and contain 2 sets of bunk beds. There is a small table by the door and hooks for hanging jackets.

Brooks Lodge rooms set of bunck beds

Each of the 4 beds has a reading light.

Brooks Lodge rooms bunkbeds

The bathroom area is at the back of the cabin. The sink is in the center, with a shower on the right.

Brooks Lodge rooms shower

The toilet area is on the left and has a door for privacy.

Toilet in one of the rooms at Brooks Lodge

An extra shower curtain hangs between the sink area and the bunkbeds to provide some privacy when entering and exiting the shower.

Side view of bunk beds in Brooks Lodge

Skytel rooms include a sign about being quiet at night due to the lack of sound barriers. Fortunately, this was fine during our stay.

Sign that says: Welcome to Skytel at Brooks Lodge. This building was barged from Seattle to Nanek and trucked to King Salmon in 1963, It was later boated to Brooks adn constructed in 1964. Guests first occupied Skytel in 1965. The building has no sound proofing or insulation. Sound travels through the walls. Please be considerate of other guests. Try to refrain from flushing the toilet during sleeping hours.

Be sure to note that Brooks Lodge has no wifi or cell service.

Does it Live Up to the Hype?

Yes. It makes a difference to stay in the Brooks Lodge rooms. Some of our best bear viewings occurred late in the evenings, so a day trip would have been less enjoyable. Brooks Lodge is one-of-a-kind. There is no other place to experience brown bears so closely and safely. It is a truly unforgettable place to stay.

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Bear standing in the grass in Katmai National Park.

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