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|2024 Bears of Lake Clark National Park
Alaska Brown Bear Photo Expedition in Lake Clark National Park
I have been photographing brown bears in Alaska for years now. One of my favorite places to see and photograph bears is at Silver Salmon Lodge in Lake Clark National Park. The accommodations at this wilderness lodge boasts many first class amenities. To view my informational Facebook page, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraEddyNaturePhotographyWorkshops/
Life at the lodge.
Our lodge provides comfortable and delightful accommodations. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included and these meals are some of the finest available in a wilderness setting. Since the lodge is located near the best bear viewing areas, we can take advantage of the light at a moment’s notice. We will be photographing bears that live locally and will have many opportunities with them. In 2021, my guests and I woke up and looked outside our lodge window only to see eyes looking back at us. It was a thrilling experience to see the bears go about their daily routine as we observed at safe distances. We all came home with many amazing images.
An experienced bear guide accompanies us on every outing. Most likely we will spend some of our time photographing bears at low tide while they dig for clams, or graze in the meadow on sedges. We will also photograph bears fishing for salmon. We never know what the opportunities will be each day but we will be in perfect position to take advantage of whatever develops. These bears are habituated to humans, which allows a close and safe approach. Our guides carry bear spray, but have never needed to use it. An image-stabilized camera system is helpful for producing sharp hand-held images of fleeting moments as we approach the different bears and groups of bears. There’s always plenty of time to set up our tripods for tack-sharp images.
Our group will travel in wagons pulled behind four- wheelers to comfortably reach the prime areas used by bears. A limited amount of walking is required to get within good photographic range. The terrain is fairly flat and not very hard to maneuver. We always walk slowly in the vicinity of the bears to obtain the best photographic opportunities and angles. There are always plenty of adult bears to photograph. We like to keep our distance and try to stay at least 40 yards from them. At such close quarters it is easy to fill the frame with the impressive animals. Bears sometimes wander quite close. Obviously, 40 yards is plenty close to a 1,000 pound bear. We stay in a tight group for safety and to avoid putting pressure on the animals. After our day in the field, we return to the lodge for wonderful prepared meals and time to download images and recharge our personal batteries as well as camera batteries. ,
Our journey begins and ends in Anchorage with a short flight to the lodge. Since we are living at the lodge, it is easy to find the bears. In the late summer and fall bears are actively fishing, grazing and clamming and provide outstanding photo opportunities. When the weather and tides are favorable we may also enjoy an afternoon excursion to Bird Island to see and photograph the colorful seabirds found there. Last year we had great photographic opportunities of puffins and sea otters.
Daily Schedule - Itinerary
We will dedicate the best hours of light and weather to photography. We will take meal breaks to keep us warm, relaxed, and nourished.
(Day A) - July 12 or earlier - Pre-trip arrival in Anchorage. Overnight. (Hotel and meals in town are not included in the price of the trip.)
(Day 1) - July 13 - Barbara will make arrangements to get the group to the small airstrip for our flight to Lake Clark National Park. Typically this flight is scheduled around 10 AM. We will spend the rest of the day at the lodge enjoying the beautiful surrounding, the delicious meals and of course, photographing the bears.
(Day 2 through 5) - July 14-17 - Daily excursions to bears, three deluxe gourmet meals, help from Barbara Eddy with your photography in the field and instruction at the lodge with image processing.
(Day 6) - July 18 - A leisurely morning at the lodge, breakfast, and then a short ride to the beach for our flight back to Anchorage. Back in Anchorage you'll have time to eat lunch in town, check out some of the sights, then catch a cab for the short ride to the airport. Some guests may find flights easier on the following day and may wish to overnight in Anchorage.
Pre or post extension - Optional extension to see more of the magic of Alaska.
Optional extension in Seward - Join Barbara for extra time in Alaska. I’m offering an extension and will have more information about this shortly. We may have the opportunity to photograph animals at the Alaska Wildlife ,Conservation Center, visit Portage Valley, and boat out to the Kenai Fjords National Park to photograph landscapes, sea life, and glaciers. Please let me know if you would like to join me on the extension.
You don’t need a lot of equipment to photograph bears. The ideal lens is a 200-400mm. These particular lenses allow you to zoom in on more distant bears as well as animals close by. A tripod is helpful for holding the camera and lens in position while awaiting an attractive pose. If you are using a camera with a crop factor (small sensor), consider what it does to your focal length. If your camera has a 1.5x crop factor, the field of view of a 300mm lens is similar to a much longer 450mm lens. The focal length is still 300mm, but the bear will be much larger in the viewfinder!
Alaska is often cool and wet, especially in late July and early August. You won’t be too hot. Don’t overdo what you wear. Hiking boots that resist water, rain pants, rain jacket that can go over your normal warm jacket, and a rain hat for both you and the camera will come in handy. Even waterproof gloves might be helpful.
Bring warm clothes to prepare for the worst. On our last visit in August, it rained a couple of days and we enjoyed temperatures in the low fifties. The lodge provides hip boots for making walking in tall wet grass drier and more comfortable. I wear these hip boots the entire time when veiwing and photographing bears as it makes stream crossings and standing in wet meadows easier.
This trip does not require long distance hiking but we regularly walk over a mile or more every day. We traverse sandy beaches, cobblestones, mudflats, and tall grass flats. You will be carrying your camera bag and tripod. If you have trouble walking or hiking in any way this trip may not be for you. People of average physical condition for hiking will have no problem.
Fly directly into Anchorage and overnight close to the airport. We will depart on a small plane the following morning. The flight to the lodge is included in the package price. It takes about one hour to fly from Anchorage to the lodge. The plane lands on a sandy beach not far from the lodge.
I highly recommend that you arrive in Anchorage the day before our scheduled flight to Lake Clark National Park. You may possibly find flights that arrive in Anchorage the day of our Lake Clark flight but this may be risky as connections may not work out. I don’t trust the airlines at this time and you may not arrive in time for the flight to the lodge. I will be arriving in Anchorage at least one day early. Let me know if you plan to do this as well and we can get together. I may be able to help you find lodging in Anchorage.
The flight back from Lake Clark will depart in late morning on August 10. On return to Anchorage, you could overnight or book a late flight home that night. If you are interested in staying longer I am planning an extension to Seward for a boat trip into Kenai Fiords National Park, a world of wildlife and glaciers. Please let me know if this is of interest and I can work out all the details.
Three delicious meals a day are served at the lodge. No food is allowed while we are out with the bears due to safety concerns. The bears leave humans alone and we want to keep it that way! We don’t want to teach bears that humans carry food to eat.
The lodge will assign our rooms. They are all comfortable. Bedding, towels, and coffee, are provided.
I know you will find this bear photography trip to be tremendously fun and productive. I hope you will join me! Space is strictly limited.
Cost - $7,325 per person
See the brochure linked above for more details including cancellation policies.