Each fall in late August and early September, Battle River Wilderness Retreat attracts Brown (Grizzly) Bears to feed on the late run of Sockeye Salmon spawning in the Battle River as well as the plentiful blueberries, crowberries, lowbush cranberries and salmon berries that occupy the tundra hillsides of the Battle River Basin. Battle River Wilderness Retreat is strategically located at the source of the Battle River on Battle Lake.  The Battle River Basin is approximately 1 mile wide at this point with glacial mountains surrounding it on 3 sides. It provides a natural migration route for wildlife between Battle and Kukalek Lakes. During the early fall, it is a spectacular place to visit!

We have no idea how many bears we saw. One day from a high vantage point we counted twenty-one bears scattered across the tundra around us or along the river below us.”


Many days provide opportunities to see bears feeding, frolicking and wandering from the camp itself---it is not uncommon to see 10 to 20 different bears from camp.  Our program, however, is to guide our guests daily by foot or jet boat in search of wildlife photographic opportunities. Since we only take a maximum of 8 persons at a time at Battle, each guest is assured of a quality wilderness experience.  Normally, there will be no more than 4 guests in each guided group. We strive to locate bears, then approach carefully for photographing. Every individual experience is different.

Often, other wildlife photographic opportunities present themselves during these daily excursions.  Many guests have wonderful pictures of Alaskan Moose, Barren Ground Caribou, Merganser Ducks, Willow Ptarmigan, Arctic Fox and Bald Eagles.

“Believe me - nothing can match the excitement of sitting on a sunny gravel bar in a remote wilderness location in a small group of 5 or 6 people, silently watching a very large sow and her 3 juvenile cubs, aware of you but ignoring you and behaving in a completely natural manner and separated from you by nothing more than shallow water and gravel!”


At Battle, we live with the bears. From nightly rubbings on our guest cabins, to daily encounters in and out of camp, we share this beautiful back-country of Katmai with them.  Our hikes and floats in the Battle basin provide wonderful opportunities to experience these magnificent animals in their natural environment. Whether fishing for Sockeye Salmon in the Battle River, or foraging for blueberries on the tundra hillsides, these animals are our constant neighbors.

“One of the exciting aspects of bear viewing at Battle is that you are not corralled onto a safe, secure “viewing platform” with forty or a hundred other tourists….Bears frequently passed along the river bank in front of camp, and on a couple of occasions passed through camp…a sow stood and scratched her back on the corner of one of the cabins while her cubs romped back and forth.  There was a fellow in the scratching-post cabin, and he later told us he thought the end was near! Although the floor of the cabin is at least a foot above the level of the ground, when the fellow looked out his window, he looked up into the face of the sow!”


Why Battle River for bears? 

The bears are here.  You are not just viewing the bears. You will be cohabitating with the bears during your visit whether floating the Battle River, hiking the tundra hillsides or walking to the dining cabin for dinner!

“The thrill of seeing these awesome creatures, the Alaskan Brown Bear, up close in large numbers on their own turf and on their own terms is indescribable.