Camping Along the Cook Inlet Coast

The nutrient-rich vegetation, salmon-packed streams, and clamming potential of the park's Cook Inlet coast make it prime habitat for a dense concentration of brown bears. The high bear population is what attracts many visitors to places like Silver Salmon Creek and Chinitna Bay. If you plan to camp along these sedge meadows or beaches, come prepared for likely up-close bear encounters. Campers should be extra vigilant with food storage and plan for safe camping in bear country.

A sow and two cubs walk out to the beach from an electric fence.
Electric bear fences are effective deterrents for curious bears that may visit your campsite.

NPS / Megan Richotte


Cook Inlet Camping Essentials

  • Proper food and trash storage is required. Bring enough bear resistant containers (BRC) for all of your food and trash. Learn about the park's food storage requirements.
  • Be aware of eating restrictions and meadow closures at Chinitna Bay and the meadow closure at Silver Salmon Creek.

  • Carrying and knowing how to use bear spray is strongly encouraged. Be sure to check in with your local air taxi about transporting it. You must declare bear spray before you board your flight.
  • Camp with other people. Make a plan for what you'll do when a bear comes to your camp or approaches while you're inside your tent.
  • Backpacking electric bear fences are required to surround tents and deter bears from your camp. Ensure that you have enough batteries and test the system before you leave for your trip. Electric fences may be available for rent or purchase by outdoor retailers in Anchorage or Homer.
A note from the Superintendent's Compendium Page 4 2.10(d)(4): “Bear Resistant Fencing From May 1st to November 1st of each year, use of functional and active bear resistant electrical fencing is required when camping within ½ mile of the Cook Inlet Coastline of Lake Clark National Park. The intent of these designations is to prevent bears and other wildlife from obtaining and habituating to food and garbage, thus protecting wildlife and park visitors alike. We strongly recommend that dishes and cooking equipment be securely stored; but clean and odor free items are not required to be stored in secure containers. We also recommend using BRC’s in all areas of the park, but do not require it. Ice chests and coolers, tents, dry bags or stuff sacks, plastic packing boxes (Totes, Action Packers, etc) and unmodified kayaks are not generally approved as BRC. The park offers bear resistant containers for temporary use to the public. The containers are free of charge and can be picked up at the park’s visitor center in Port Alsworth.”
bear spray canister duct taped to a plane wing
Be sure to tell your pilot if you have bear spray as they may have to attach it to an exterior plane strut.

NPS / Ken Ilgunas

A diagram that shows a triangle formation with the word "Camp" on the top point. On the bottom left point the word "Eat" and on the bottom right the words "Store Your Bear Barrel." Each point is separated by 100 yds.
When camping in bear country, you should camp, eat, and store your BRC in three different locations.

At Your Camp

  • Place your campsite in an area of good visibility for both you and the bears to see each other and avoid surprises. Avoid camping near known bear trails or salmon streams.
  • Stay safe around brown bears. Sleep, eat, and store your BRC in different locations.
  • Avoid cooking and eating overly odorous food or fish. If you plan to fish and keep your catch at Silver Salmon, you must bring a fish box which are available to borrow from the Ranger Station. All caught fish within 1/2 mile of the Cook Inlet coast needs to be immediately stored in a BRC.

Other Considerations

  • The Cook Inlet coast is known for extended periods of hard rainfall. Bring sturdy rain gear.

  • Have a plan with your air taxi including pickup time, location, and communication in the event you or your scheduled flight are delayed due to high water crossings or poor weather.

  • There are no restroom or power facilities available to campers along most of the coast. You are responsible for proper waste management: Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out your TP as bears and other animals often dig up catholes.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.

Know Before You Go


Last updated: July 31, 2020

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