|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|Anchorage, Matsu & Cook Inlet|
Location/Size: Encompasses northern end of the Aleutian Range and western end of the Alaska Range, and includes a coastal segment of Cook Inlet, west of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. National park2.6 million acres; national preserve1.4 million acres; wilderness2.4 million acres.
Main Activities: Backpacking, mountaineering, river running, fishing, backcountry-lodge stays (outside park boundaries).
Gateway Towns/Getting There: Anchorage, Homer, Kenai/vehicle access via Glenn, Seward, and Sterling Highways; regular air service; scheduled ferry to Homer. Port Alsworth/regular small-plane air service, charter air. Park access by charter air drop-off or via canoe or kayak on Lake Clark from Port Alsworth; possible foot access from Iliamna Lake and Cook Inlet.
Facilities, Camping, Lodging: No facilities. Primitive camping only; lodging on private land on Lake Clark. See Alaskas Lake Clark Inn, below.
Headquarters and Information: Headquarters, 4230 University Drive, Suite 311, Anchorage, AK 99508, 271-3751; Field Headquarters, Port Alsworth, AK 99653, 781-2218, www.nps.gov/lacl.
Home to two impressive volcanoes, beautiful lakes, and the glacier-shredded Chigmit and Neacola Mountains, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a wilderness jewel. Located at the junction of the Alaska and Aleutian Ranges, the park and preserve encompass about 4 million acres of a much larger mountain wilderness. There are no roads in the park and only one 3-mile-long trail, which accesses Tanalian Falls from the remote park headquarters at Port Alsworth on Lake Clark.
Two spectacular volcanoes are located in the park. Redoubt Volcano (10,197') erupted in 1989, sending ash miles into the atmosphere, showering cinders on areas downwind, and halting air traffic over a large region. Though it hasnt erupted recently, beautiful Iliamna Volcano (10,016') sleeps uneasily and the steam from its peak is thick at times. If you should happen to fly from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor or elsewhere in the Southwest on a clear day, your aerial views of these snow-covered mountains and the glaciers they launch will be long remembered.
The majority of visitors to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve fly from Anchorage, Kenai, or Homer directly to a chosen backcountry drop-off point. Facilities exist at Port Alsworth, including accommodations, a designated camping area, and a small park visitor center. Other facilities are found on the shores of Cook Inlet and in Iliamna (population 99, 66 percent native) on huge Iliamna Lake, which sprawls across state, private, native corporation, and BLM holdings between Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve.
Canoeing and kayaking are possible on Lake Clark and other lakes within the park. Tlikakila River, a designated National Wild River, is one of several within the park suitable for float trips. The best backpacking access is via high-country drop-offs since many of the long glacial valleys are thickly forested and low in elevation. Glacier walkers, mountaineers, and rock climbers have a paradise of offerings, though routes jump from basic to extreme very quickly with little middle ground. Consult outfitters, guides, and flying services (see the Appendix).
Remember, Lake Clark is a wild park. All backcountry users should be self-sufficient. Backcountry lodging is available at Alaskas Lake Clark Inn (on Lake Clark within preserve; great view), 1 Lang Road, Port Alsworth, AK 99653, 781-2224, 781-2252. The very accommodating owner/pilot will take you flightseeing or to fishing spots.