Brown Bears of Silver Salmon Creek

Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

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Less than 100 miles southwest of Anchorage lies four million acres of unspoiled wild Alaska—Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The park was established in 1980 to protect the region’s exceptional diverse scenic beauty, steaming volcanoes, dynamic glaciers, wild rivers and abundant wildlife. Within its borders dwell more than 250 of those iconic denizens of tide flat, taiga and tundra—the mighty coastal brown bears.
"Watching, filming and taking pictures of the bears near Silver Salmon Creek was outstanding and for me a dream come true. This is a special place on earth and the JVO Photo Safari provides a spectacular, comfortable and safe way to experience brown bears in their natural habitat. The lodge and the guides were outstanding."
- A. Zoller

Lake Clark has been called the “Essence of Alaska” as it combines an awesome array of landforms and habitats not found together in any other Alaskan park—three mountain ranges, two active volcanoes, fertile coastline, rain forest and tundra. This rugged and isolated park is only accessible by small aircraft or boat. One of the least visited of all US national parks, Lake Clark presents its few visitors a wonderful opportunity to experience true northern wilderness.

Starting from our strategically-located, exclusive, spacious and comfortable lodge, we begin each day riding on ATV-drawn carts through pristine landscapes to photograph this wilderness icon. With highly-experienced guides, locating bears is very easy. In fact, brown bears are commonly seen from the lodge’s decks and windows. Dramatic full-frame images of mothers with cubs and of bears foraging, feeding and interacting are all readily captured with 300mm, 400mm or 500mm lenses.

Standing at close range, on ground level, to a 1,200-pound male brown bear is an experience that always delivers a real adrenaline rush! As with other Alaskan bear populations with a variety of foods to eat, these bears are essentially “people neutral”—they are fully aware we are there, but, fortunately, they don’t view us as part of their diet. Each day we can enjoy multiple photo shoots—we set our own group schedule—with no time limits, no crowds. ​"Spring cubs" on grassy meadows, feeding and play-fighting over salmon along the river, and bears digging clams on the tidal flats provide an endless source of rewarding—and often humorous—photo opportunities. Photographing the bears at Silver Salmon Creek is different than at any other brown bear-viewing location. In contrast to the often aggressive salmon feeding frenzy at Brooks Falls, with the lower Bear cub in alpenglowdensity of adult male and higher density of females and cubs, the bears tend to be more relaxed due to the lack of competition, and a wide variety of very different bear behaviors yields more diverse images. We can routinely photograph bears catching salmon along the river, digging clams along the shores of Cook Inlet during low tide, and grazing in summer meadows with serrate mountain backdrops.

Though bears are definitely our “focus,” other photogenic wildlife abounds, including bald eagles and other birds of prey, shorebirds, songbirds—and wolves. We should hear their mournful howls reverberating from the nearby forest. Wild, vast landscapes, with distant but well-placed bears in the frame, also rank high among our photographic goals.

Fly with us to Lake Clark National Park. Enjoy the homespun hospitality, delicious homemade comfort food and cheery camaraderie of a marvelous backwoods lodge, and create breathtaking images of bears in this vast and varied wilderness—the epitome of Alaska!

Check out Eric Rock's video on traveling in bear country


Check out Gary Alt's trip report from our latest brown bears photo tour
For Trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Jul 5 or Aug 17)
We meet in the lobby of our Anchorage hotel at 6:30 PM. After introductions and an orientation regarding next morning’s flight to Lake Clark National Park, we depart for dinner—and more detail about what we are about to experience. (D)

Day 2
After breakfast at our hotel, we leave for nearby Lake Hood and our chartered aircraft. The legendary Alaskan bush pilots are a unique breed—and ours are some of the best! The flight to Lake Clark is an adventure in itself. Photographing bears at Silver Salmon CreekFlying over Cook Inlet, we pass tall majestic snow-covered volcanic peaks with long braided rivers radiating from their steep slopes. Continuing west and slightly northward, we again pick up the north shore of Cook Inlet and follow it to our ocean beach landing site at Silver Salmon Creek. The beach commonly has bears and/or bear tracks. We load our gear onto all-terrain vehicles for the short trip to our lodge. (BLD)

Days 3–6
We have more than four full days of bear photography. Expect a full spectrum of unpredictable weather conditions as we venture out each day to explore diverse habitats and photograph one of largest land carnivores roaming across some of wildest and most pristine environments left on Earth. Throughout the season bears are seen foraging in verdant sedge meadows, bears fish for salmon and dig enthusiastically for clams on the vast tidal flat, and photogenic young cubs interact at length as they “fish” along the river.
Bear cubs playing in Lake Clark National Park, AlaskaEach day we return to our lodge for lunch and some free time to download images and rest. We are back in the field for late afternoon and/or evening photo sessions. A great dinner awaits our return to the lodge—along with a good night’s sleep after an active day! (BLD)

Day 7 (Jul 11, Aug 23)
After breakfast, we are transported to the beach where our chartered aircraft returns us to Anchorage. Participants depart for home on late afternoon or evening flights. (B)

Please note
Rooms at our exclusive lodge are all very comfortable but vary in size, bed size and in-room facilities. Rooms will be assigned on suitability and on a first-come basis. Single accommodations are not available at our lodge, but are available for the first night in Anchorage.

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Brown Bears of Silver Salmon Creek

Jul 05, 2022 - Jul 11, 2022


A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due on 3/31/22 and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

A deposit of $1,000 per person is required. We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
On 2/15/22 or prior:
2/16/22 to 5/1/22:
After 5/2/22:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of entire trip fee
100% of entire trip fee

Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. As noted in Section 3 below, we send a brochure for trip insurance to US and Canadian residents. The policy offered includes the emergency evacuation coverage required for this trip. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own—that is, not through our office—should confirm that emergency evacuation is included in their policy.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft or other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics and outbreaks, or other causes.  All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Brown Bears of Silver Salmon Creek: Moderate Activity Level

Small plane and ATV-drawn carts for ground transportation.  The ATV-drawn cart ride is bumpy. Walking for distances of about one mile on a daily basis across wet sedge meadows and intertidal mudflats.  Expect a variety of damp and cool maritime Alaska weather requiring an impermeable outer shell to your layered outer wear.

Trip Details
Multiple Departure Dates 2022
Fee: $7,395 from Anchorage, Alaska
Deposit: $1,000
Limit: 8 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate
Tour 1: July 5-11, 2022 Sold out
Tour 2: Aug 17-23, 2022 2 Spaces Available
  • Photograph the awesome Alaska brown bears at close range and from ground level—at peak time of year
  • Tour limited to 8 participants
  • Stay in our exclusive comfortable backcountry lodge situated in the heart of bear country
  • Explore one of the least-visited national parks in the US
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Tour Leaders
Gary Alt

Gary Alt

For those interested in not only astonishingly close-up photos of coastal brown bears splashing and cavorting as they engorge themselves on the locally abundant salmon run, but would also like to come away with an enhanced understanding of bear species and subspecies, this tour will not disappoint. Up close and personal images of brown bear sows and spring cubs feeding on silver salmon in the local creeks and at the river mouth on Cook's Inlet are a daily occurrence.
—S. Hall

For anyone interested in nature or photography, this trip is a must do! Brown bears at close range, great accommodations and 20 hours a day of good light.
—J. Marmillo