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“A home in the wilderness: MUST go if you're visiting Alaska!”
Review of Brooks Lodge

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Brooks Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“A home in the wilderness: MUST go if you're visiting Alaska!”
Reviewed 7 August 2011

Before going we had read several reviews on here talking about the supposed poor quality of the rooms, expensiveness and lousiness of the food, lack of helpfulness from the staff, and various other supposed issues, but decided to go as it looked like all in all it was worthwhile for the great bear viewing opportunities.
After being there, we have to say those reviews were totally misleading, so we would really like to take this opportunity to do Brooks Lodge some justice.
Rooms. As we booked quite late, all the standalone cabins were gone so we had to stay in one of the rooms in the large multicabin building. Ok, you can hear the neighbours coming in with their boots or flushing the toilet if you're awake, but nothing loud enough to wake you up if you are sleeping. Ok, there are basic bunk beds as opposed to a king size 4 star bed, but they were clean and reasonably comfortable, with plenty of blankets in case you needed them, which was not the case as there was a huge electric heater with a very accurate temperature controller. Shower, toilet and sink were basic but clean and perfectly working, with hot water always available. If you consider this lodge is in the middle of absolute nowhere, that's far more that we were reasonably expecting.
Food. Lousy? That was the best food we had at almost any hotel or restaurant in Alaska: healthy, simple and therefore likely to suit almost anyone (we are Italian, and so we always struggle to find decent food while travelling anywhere outside of Italy). Not too many choices? Yes. Not so cheap? Yes. But again, you are in the middle of absolute nowhere, no one with a common sense would expect anything more.
Service. Like almost everywhere else in Alaska, service is provided by very young guys and girls from all over the US and beyond, but they were all very kind, always smiling and willing to help. The room was serviced every morning like if it was a hotel, including fresh towels, which was an unnecessary luxury given the context. The place is packed with rangers, more and less experienced but all extremely helpful and committed to keep humans safe from bears and viceversa.
Activities. Everyone has mentioned how many bears you can see and how close, though in full safety, at Brooks Lodge, so we won't spend much time on that, except for saying that yes, the falls upper platform can get a bit crowded at times, but it is regulated by the rangers during peak times so that it doesn't get overcrowded: this is done by allowing people in only when some people get out and allowing people to stay for no longer than one hour, which anyway is long enough to take plenty of pictures and videos of the bears - and you can always queue in straight away to get on the platform again. If you have the opportunity to spend one extra day at the lodge, the Valley of 10,000 smokes tour is totally worthwhile, and the 3 hour walk down to the falls not that strenuous: lunar landscapes, canyons, muddy rivers, all crowned by a ring of mountains and volcanoes which on a sunny day is simply stunning.
Mosquitoes. Yes, this is mosquito country even more than bear country. That's what the gloves are for that they suggest to bring, not against the cold! Make sure you have headnet, gloves and whatever needed to not leave an inch of your skin free for mosquitoes to attack whenever you are outside, including the very second you land on the beach, and you'll be fine. Insect repellents were not so useful instead.
One final piece of advice. Transportation from Anchorage (or any other place in the civilised world) is tricky and time-consuming (and expensive): if you undertake the trouble and the cost to do it, it's then worth spending a little more money and staying at the lodge for one or (better) two nights. This also helps if the weather is not good enough for the Katmai Air floatplane to land on Brooks Lake: in this case you might get stuck at the floatplane base until the weather opens up, and still be forced to land on the Naknek Lake and be transported to the Lodge via a shuttle bus, which is even trickier and more time consuming. You don't want this to eat out your bear viewing time, that's why we were glad to have two nights booked at the Lodge and we were able to take thousands of bear pictures plus taking the Valley of 10,000 smokes tour even if the weather on the first day was rainy and windy.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
11 Thank Cristina_e_Michele
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Batavia, Illinois
1 review
Reviewed 31 July 2011

From the time we landed at King Salmon from Anchorage to when we came back, we had nothing but the best experience with every single person that we came in contact with. Each one was not only very polite, but really seemed sincere about making sure that we were having a good time--- plus the food and amenitites were great too!

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank mickzollers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SAN DIEGO
Level Contributor
16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 July 2011

There are 2 types of rooms at the lodge. One type is a completely private, stand-alone cabin. The other is a cabin room that is part of a rowhouse of connected rooms. We stayed in the stand-alone cabin and had no problems at all. I think the bad reviews must refer to the other style of room. The room was clean and fine, no complaints at all. We went in July 2011 and saw plenty of bears. A great experience and worth the money.

Room Tip: rooms are assigned based on when you check in. There's really nothing you can do to control whi...
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  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank pchoice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2011

We visited Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park for 3 days in late June. We lucked out with nearly ideal weather. The lodge people and NPS rangers are very friendly and helpful. The food at the lodge was surprisingly good, especially the dinners. As others have reported, the actual lodging is spartan, 2 sets of bunk beds in a small cabin, but they were clean and comfortable, especially given the remote location.

And then there were the bears! They were just ramping up in numbers for the July peak, but were still plentiful. After disembarking from the float plane (very cool flight) and attending the required "bear etiquette" session, we emerged from the visitors center to see a very large brown bear napping on the beach about 75 yards away. He would be the first of many over the next few days.

One evening as a few of us were on the upper falls platform watching 3 bears figure out who would get the best fishing location, one of our fellow visitors summed it up perfectly - "this is a special place."

So if you're expecting luxury accomodations and service, don't come to Brooks. If you want a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience one of the more remote spots in America and watch magnificent animals at close range, this is your place.

As with all good things in life, there are some downsides. The first is the trip is ridiculously expensive. But once we were there watching the bears, we never thought about the cost again. Second, heed the warnings and bring rain gear and face nets. Although we had great weather, the sun only shines on average about 20% of the time in the summer. And, unless there's a good breeze (in which case, you'll see fewer bears), the mosquitoes are there in droves. Just cover up, use the face net, and wear long sleeves/pants and you will be fine.

What a place. Our family will never forget our visit there.

Room Tip: Book early for peak times - the entire month of July.
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Turbofamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Illinois
Level Contributor
55 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 April 2011

As a lodge Brooks is not fancy, but then we weren't expecting it to be. We came for the bears, not the cabin! Yes, the cabins are a bit rustic, but were just fine and clean. You don't come here expecting to be pampered... if you come to be amazed by watching grizzles play in the water and walk through the camp, then this is the place! I think Brooks Lodge is overpriced, but it's hard to put a price tag on this extraordinary experience. We slept fine and enjoyed warming up around the fire in the main lodge area. The food was definitely too expensive. I'd fill up at lunch or breakfast and skip dinner. Saying all this... Bear watching at Katmai was the highlight of my Alaska vacation and I would not have wanted to miss it for the world. Some just fly in for the day, but I'd recommend splurging for at least one night to optimize your bear viewing. The second day we were here we didn't even make it to the falls because of bear activity by the bridge that prevented us from crossing. My trip to Alaska would not have been complete without this visit.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
6 Thank parkhiker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Brooks Lodge

Property: Brooks Lodge
Address: Naknek Lake, Katmai National Park and Preserve, AK
Region: United States > Alaska > Katmai National Park and Preserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Katmai National Park and Preserve
Price range (per night): $467 - $523
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the Heart of the Magnificent Katmai Wilderness Brooks Lodge overlooks the world famous Brooks River in the heart of Katmai National Park. The lodge, originally conceived as a fishing camp, has been in operation since 1950. The facilities have seen continuous upgrading and have gained a world-wide reputation, attracting visitors from all continents. Bear viewing at Brooks Falls is only a short walk away. Guest accommodations consist of sixteen modern rooms all with modern private facilities. Rooms accommodate two to four persons. The beautiful main lodge building boasts a spectacular view of aquamarine Naknek Lake. Its large circular fireplace is popular for evening relaxing and reminiscing about the day's adventures. Hearty Alaska fare is served three times a day buffet style in the dining area of the lodge. Cocktails are available for purchase at the lodge bar each afternoon and evening. The world famous bear viewing at Brooks Falls is only a short walk from Katmailand's Brooks Lodge. As many as fifty bears live along the mile and a half long Brooks River during the salmon season. Many visitors see bears within minutes of arrival. All visitors are instructed by the National Park Service on how to conduct themselves in "Bear Country". Superb sportfishing is available adjacent to the lodge on the Brooks River and on the Brooks and Naknek Lakes. The Brooks River is fly fishing only. The Brooks Lodge fishing packages are for independent minded fly fishermen who want to experience the great sportfishing of the Katmai area without the expense of a fully guided sportfishing lodge. Including fly outs in your stay will provide the means to fish other hot spots and allow you to take advantage of the variety of species of fish available in southwest Alaska. At Brooks Lodge you are just 22 miles from the volcanic "Valley of 10,000 Smokes". The Valley is the sight of one of the most violent eruptions in modern history. Novarupta Volcano exploded in 1912 with blasts of hot winds and gas which spewed hot glowing pumice and ash, destroying all living things and burying more than 40 square miles of lush green valley under ash deposits to depths of 700 feet. Daily tours of "Valley of 10,000 Smokes" depart from Brooks Lodge daily. Comfortable accommodations in the heart of the magnificent Katmai wilderness make this a truly perfect vacation spot. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Brooks Hotel Katmai National Park And Preserve
Brooks Lodge Alaska/Katmai National Park And Preserve

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