Kodiak Island… Where the Bears Grow BIG… Alaska

A Kodiak bear was on hand to greet us when our float plane landed on Frazier Lake in the remote backcountry of Kodiak Island. Our guide suggested that we stay on the plane. It was a strong suggestion.


We drove up the Alaska Highway for a reason: to visit out son Tony, his wife Cammie and their three sons, Connor, Chris and Cooper on Kodiak Island. Kodiak lies off of the Southwest Coast of Alaska and is the second largest island in the US. Only the island of Hawaii is larger. Our son, Tony, was flying helicopters on rescue missions for Coast Guard at the time. We left our van with friends in Anchorage and flew over to the island. The kids had a number of fun things lined out for us to do.

Google map showing the location of Kodiak Island.

One happened to be a float plane trip across the island to watch the large Kodiak bears living around the remote Frazier Lake. We were excited about the trip. Kodiak bears come close to matching Polar bears in size and the big males can weigh up to 1500 pounds. Watching them fish for salmon would be a treat. The flight over and back would also provide us with an opportunity to see the island. I am going to feature the trip over and back in today’s post— and add in our first encounter with a Kodiak bear. It decided to show up before we got off the plane! Next Monday, I’ll focus in on the bears. The following Monday I’ll throw in a little salmon and halibut fishing. Welcome to Kodiak Island, as beautiful as it is remote.

Float planes are the major way to get into remote locations in Alaska. I had flown on them several times when I lived in the state.

One of the advantages of flying bush planes is how close they fly to the ground. We actually used them for planning out some of the treks I led in Alaska.

Our pilot flew us over the lower elevations on our way to Frazier Lake. There was snow, of course, but mainly the land was an Ireland green.

This peak hanging out above the green hills caught my attention.

Flying over a braided river that is so typical of Alaska.

More rocky terrain. It looks like granite to me. Mountains loom in the distance.

Our first view of Frazier Lake. We would land on the lower end and hike up the river to see the bears. The site was just above the zig-zag in the river.

Flying into the lake.

Our float plane after it landed.

Another view.

Getting off the plane was another issue. This fellow was fishing next to where we landed.

It walked over to our plane and checked out the tether line.

Eventually, it climbed into the water and swam away. Note to ourselves: Don’t try to get away from bear by swimming.

We watched as it climbed out on the opposite shore as we prepared to hike up the river to the main bear watching area. I’ll feature a lot more bears next Monday, lots of them including some really cute cubs, but for today I want to show the more mountainous part of Kodiak that we saw on our return trip to the float plane base.

Our flight back to the float plane base took us across Kodiak’s more mountainous terrain. Glaciers are working their way down the mountains.

There is a lot of Kodiak that I would enjoy backpacking through, but I’ll leave this to the mountain climbers.

I’ll conclude today with this view of the mountains framed by the snow and a glacier.

FRIDAY’S POST: The Mekemson kids are up to more mischief.

MONDAY’S POST: We continue our journey rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: Bears and more bears on Kodiak Island.














42 thoughts on “Kodiak Island… Where the Bears Grow BIG… Alaska

    • I’d say that would be a clear indication, Craig. 🙂 That’s when the pepper spray comes out. My son Tony rescued a fellow who had stopped a charging Kodiak bear with pepper spray. The bear had stopped but then returned to the attack and continued to stalk the hiker. Apparently, Tony had arrived just in time with his helicopter. –Curt

  1. You are such an outdoor’s man, Curt, I’m surprised you didn’t carry on a conversation with the bear before he left. 🙂 Alaska has always been a place I’d like to see. Two friends of mine ended up going there for 2 years – and what stories I’ve heard! They both (at different times, unbeknownst of the other) told me of the fun and beauty of the Spring thaw.

    • Well, there was the advantage of being in the plane with the Kodiak bear outside, AC. Peggy and I were delighted with the flight across the island and our ability to check it out up close. That doesn’t happen with jets! –Curt

  2. Float planes are a kick. My uncle had one when I was a kid, and the occasional ride I got inspired me to get my pilots license in the late 80’s. I haven’t flown for years, but on nice summer days when small planes fly over the itch starts scratching again.

    Those Alaska pics are phenomenal. What time of year were you up there?

    • I used them several times when I lived in Alaska, Dave. Those and other bush planes. It was always fun. I can see why you picked up your pilot’s license.
      Since we drove up the Alaska Highway, it was in July and August, probably the best time to visit. I always planned my wilderness treks to fall in that time frame. –Curt

  3. Curt –
    First of all, your family is even more impressive than Alaska! I lived in Juneau briefly and thought Alaska to be one of the most amazing places in the world. I saw black bears, but not Kodiak bears. Your photos are fantastic! I don’t think anyone could read this post and not want to get to Alaska as soon as possible!

    • It is one of the last truly wild places on earth, Juliann. Thanks. I was in and out of Juneau several times each year on business, lobbying at the legislature on health and environmental issues. –Curt

  4. The bears are impressive, and the green of the landscape is gorgeous, but that last photo’s my favorite. It’s really something; I shivered just looking at it.

  5. The wow factor cranked up to 11 here, Curt! Interesting and amusing bylines as usual to add the personal touch – some great action shots of that bear, good job you weren’t part of the action!

  6. What an AMAZING adventure and opportunity. Now that I’m beating that nasty bug, I’m turning a bit green with envy! But thanks ever so much for sharing this sojourn!

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