Katmai National Monument, located on the Alaska peninsula across from Kodiak Island, was established in 1918, six years after the Novarupta Volcano erupted and deposited a layer of ash 100-700 feet deep across 40 square miles. The monument preserved this ash flow as well as the flora and fauna of the area.
In 1980, the monument became Katmai National Park and Preserve and is a spectacular example of how conservation of an area makes a big difference for the health of the habitat and wildlife. Today, the national park is home to some 2,000 coastal brown bears (better known as grizzly bears) as well as a broad diversity of fish, bird and marine mammal species. It is also a safe place for species threatened by or recovering from near extinction such as the sea otter and bald eagle, respectively.
There are several places to stay near Katmai National Park and Preserve that will put you within viewing distance of the bears, including Brooks Camp which is famous for the scenes of bears standing at the top of a waterfall catching salmon as they leap up the falls. My lodge of choice was Katmai Wilderness Lodge as it is smaller, quieter and has a homey feel.