Lake Clark National Park

Alaska, United States North America icon North America

Lake Clark National Park is located in the southern part of Alaska, just west of the central point. The park covers an area of 6,296 square miles (16,308 sq km) making it the 6th largest park in Alaska and the 7th largest in the United States.

Lake Clark is one of several lakes and numerous rivers and streams that are located throughout the preserve.  These waterways are just some of the many natural facets of the park’s pristine wilderness.  Lake Clark is the largest lake in the park and the sixth-largest in Alaska.  It expands a distance of 42 miles (68 km) long and reaches a depth of 860 feet (260 m).

The park is comprised of alpine tundra, glaciers, glacial lakes, rainforests, rivers, and volcanoes.  Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna are the two volcanoes with Redoubt being active.  Almost any type of imagined Alaskan terrain is located here in the Lake Clark region.

The diversity of ecosystems means that all of Alaska’s renowned wildlife is found in some parts of the park.  The Kvichak River delivers the most populous group of sockeye salmon.  Combined with the Kijik River and Silver Salmon Creek, these are some of the best places for watching grizzly bear hunting for salmon.  The only place that really competes for bear watching is the neighboring Katmai National Park.

Grizzly bear, black bear, and moose are some of the most popular wildlife sightings while also representing the larger Alaskan species.  Other wildlife that may be found in the park includes caribou, coyote, red fox, beaver, lynx, and wolverine. 

The powerful golden eagle and majestic bald eagle are some of the bird species that demonstrate their striking beauty across the expansive skies.  You will be incredibly impressed if you are fortunate enough to witness one of these majestic birds capturing a salmon or some other prey while in mid-flight.

The national park is in a remote part of Alaska with no roads entering the area.  The only way the park may be accessed is by boat or floatplane, which adds to the adventure of travel to Lake Clark National Park.

Lake Clark Highlights

Lake Clark is the epitome of wilderness and its diversity makes exploration of the park full of different encounters with nature.  The stunning landscapes amongst towering mountains and exquisite forests that set the backdrop of the many lakes, rivers, and streams are awe-inspiring.

One of the greatest highlights for most people is having an opportunity to witness the grizzly bears as they navigate the Kvichak River and other rivers in search of sockeye salmon.  Most people are mesmerized and can sit and watch these magnificent creatures for long periods at a time.  It will be an experience you will never forget.

Cook Inlet

Cook Inlet runs from the Anchorage up to the Gulf of Alaska with several different branches.  It is the most common watershed in the state. Denali feeds into the Cook Inlet along with several other rivers such as the Knik River and Susitna River.

Cook Inlet also provides views and access to the active volcano known as Mount Redoubt.

Mount Redoubt

Mount Redoubt is an active volcano erupting as recently as 2009.  It reaches a summit of 10,197 feet (3,108 m) with its neighboring Iliamna coming in at 10,016 feet (3,053 m).  It is one of the mountainous landscape highlights.

Trails of Lake Clark National Park

There are only two maintained trails in Lake Clark National Park with all other hiking being backcountry.

Tanalian Falls and Kontrashibuna Lake Trail: This is a 2.5-mile (4.02 km) day hike that takes hikers through birch forests, up spruce lined hills, and to an amazing view overlooking Lake Clark.  The trail is ranked easy to moderate.

Beaver pond Trail: This trail is also rated moderate taking hikers out past an old beaver pond and out to Tanalian Falls.  It provides access to other trails into the falls and regions of the park.

Tanalian Mountain Trail: This is a difficult trek up the Tanalian Mountain.  It takes around 8 hours to make the trek and the journey is rigorous.  However, the panoramic view of Lake Clark is astounding.

Lake Clark Highlights

  • Cook Inlet
  • Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna
  • Kvichak River

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