Bears of Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
Join us on January 19th, 2018 at 7PM for our presentation at the Silverthorne public library, North Branch on the beautiful bears of Silver Salmon Creek at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
When is the best time to go to Lake Clark National Park for bear viewing and photography?
I guide the Grizzly Bear photography workshop every July to coincide when the bears come out to feast and frolic. During this time, mothers and cubs are out and about through the wilderness. We have been fortunate to photograph the sows nursing their young, cubs frolicking and playing in grassy meadows, bears charging through the water and plucking fish out of Silver Salmon Creek, digging for razor clams in tidal flats, cute bear cubs playing with their siblings, bears fighting and playful attacks and cubs napping curled up with mom in the meadows. The weather can be friendlier then too, which makes bear viewing and nature photography easier and more accessible. That time of year in that location is some of the best bear viewing in the world! We get to see them in their most comfortable state, as they are well fed and happy.
Where do you go on this trip?
We enjoy the many scenic landscapes of Lake Clark National Park, including Silver Salmon Creek, an excursion to Bird Island to view Puffins (Tufted and Horned), Cormorants, Kittiwakes, Oyster Catchers, and Sea Otters, plus the sights and sounds of Anchorage. We almost become part of the wilderness spending the better part of each day immersed in it. About 95% of brown bears in the United States live in Alaska, therefore, photographing and viewing grizzlies at Lake Clark is renowned for good reason. The bears are totally uninterested in humans and on every foray, we see grizzly bears at their most natural and intimate. We go to where the bears are and observe them in various settings doing what bears do best, eating, playing, and resting. This gives us phenomenal opportunities to capture some spectacular images.
Why visit this area?
Bear viewing at Lake Clark and Silver Salmon Creek, THIS IS WILDLIFE! We are in the Alaskan backcountry, surrounded by beautiful mountains with snowcapped peaks, and we get to experience nature without distraction. For a photographer seeking those raw, free, and candid shots of grizzly bears and Alaskan wildlife, Lake Clark is perfect! I have been going there for years and every year, it only gets better!
My favorite part of the trip:
Really, for me, it is the bears nursing their young. We see them at interacting up close and cubs napping with their mothers. Massive grizzly bears digging up clams on the tidal flats. Cute grizzly bear cubs playing and wrestling. To see a fully grown adult male grizzly bear charge up a shoreline and go fishing is a sight to behold. I have seen a mother nursing her cubs just yards from me. The grizzly bear cubs had milk froth all over their faces, you just do not get see that anywhere else. That familiarity in nature gets to me, and I have a great respect for wildlife and the environment. Also, we get to see the same bears coming back each year. We see cubs growing up before our eyes, and camera lenses. Being with bears in their world is a blessing, and I am deeply honored to share this experience with others. There is nothing else like this!
Unusual, funny, exciting, or otherwise unique experiences during your trips to Silver Salmon Creek:
On more occasions than I care to count, I have seen young grizzly bear cubs playing and bopping around together. Things you only get to see on a nature documentary, only we were there! They climb all over their mom, biting and pulling each other’s ears, just being kids … only cubs. It’s hard to take photos when you are laughing so much your cheeks hurt and tears rolling down your face! The way a mother and her cubs interact is so close to home for me. Being a dad myself to a three-year-old, I feel the love between these bears. It is amazing to see, and gets me every time. We have this chance to see wildlife that is wild and totally real.
Biographical or professional information about Matt
Nature photography has been a passion of mine since 1986. That’s when I received my first 35mm SLR and I have not stopped. I have been fortunate enough to guide and host these photography workshops since 2011. As an avid outdoorsman, I have a profound respect for the power of nature and my job places me where I love to be. With a background in IT and a love for photography, I can say I am living my dream. I get to share amazing experience with likeminded people, while being in nature! When I am not leading workshops, I call Summit County home and spend as much time as possible with my wife and our beautiful daughter.
What equipment or special techniques to photograph the bears at Lake Clark?
I use lenses from 200mm to 500mm for the bears and a 70-200mm for landscapes with bears as our subjects. We focus on composition, proper exposure, enhanced filter use, and best methods for Photoshop and Lightroom. I could be called a gearhead, since I continue to refine and research the best stuff to use. Of course, I have my tried and true standbys.
It is an extreme pleasure to share these experiences with others. I get to share these adventures that create lasting memories. Each trip is life changing for me, and I have seen how emotionally powerful it is for those that come along. There is much to be learned about life by simply being present and quiet in nature.