Formally known as Katmai National Monument, Katmai National Park and Preserve was proclaimed a National Monument in 1918 after the eruption of Novarupta (now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes). In 1950, the National Park Service stationed a full-time ranger in the park and began construction on Brooks Camp ranger station; that original building is now the Visitors Center.
Tourism increased dramatically in the 1950's after aviation pioneer, Raymond Petersen, established several camps around the Katmai region. In the beginning, most visitors were sport fishermen but as word spread of Katmai’s brown bears during the 1980’s, the Brooks River became a popular wildlife viewing destination.
It is estimated that there are around 2,200 bears in Katmai National Park, with the total number of bears exceeding the population of people on the entire Alaska Peninsula. However, there is an unusually high concentration of brown bears around rivers from July to September as they congregate to feed on spawning salmon, making Brooks Falls bear viewing tours the perfect trip for seasonal adventurers.