Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
| Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
PO Box 227
Port Alsworth, AK 99653
Website of Lake Clark National Park at NPS
Location and Characteristics
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is located in southwest Alaska, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Created in 1980, the park consists of over 4 million acres making it twice the size of Yellowstone National Park and larger than the state of Connecticut.
The 5,625-sq-mile park stretches from the shores of Cook Inlet, across the Chigmit Mountains, to the tundra-covered hills of the western interior.
No roads lead to the park which can only be reached by boat or small aircraft, typically floatplanes. The major settled area in the park and preserve is Port Alsworth on Lake Clark.
The park holds some of Alaska's finest scenery; an awesome array of mountains, glaciers, granite spires, thundering waterfalls, waved-washed coastline and the largest lake in the state.
Two active volcanoes, Iliamna and Redoubt, rise more than 10,000 feet and vent steam from snow-capped peaks. On the eastern flank of the Chigmit Mountains, rivers cascade to Cook Inlet through forests of Sitka and white spruce.
The centerpiece of the park is spectacular Lake Clark, a 42-mile-long turquoise body of water ringed surrounded by mountains. But the Chigmits, where the Alaska Range merges into Aleutian Range, is home to Mount Iliamna, 10,016 feet, and Mount Redoubt at 10,197 feet, two active volcanoes with plumes that in 1990 could be seen from Anchorage.
Lake Clark is home to a full complement of subarctic wildlife species. Land mammals include brown and black bears, moose, the Mulchatna caribou herds, Dall sheep and wolves. Harbor seals, beluga whales, Steller sea lions and sea otters are seen along the coast while the rivers and lakes feature outstanding fishing for salmon, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, northern pike, lake trout and rainbow trout.
Within the park are three designated National Wild Rivers: Chilikadrotna, Tlikakila and Mulchatna Rivers. These are loved and appreciated by rafters and paddlers in inflatable canoes and kayaks.
Let's Visit the Park!
Spend a day, or more, and enjoy and explore Lake Clark National Park and Preserve!
|Map showing the location of Lake Clark National Park & Preserve relative to other Alaska cities, parks and preserves|
|NPS sign at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Scenes from Around the Park
|Aerial view of Currant Creek flowing into Lake Clark (NPS)|
|Tanalian Falls at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska|
|Quiet scene at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve|
Getting To and Around in the Park
The park has no highway access. Scheduled flights carry visitors from Anchorage to Iliamna and Port Alsworth. Chartered flights are available from Anchorage, Kenai, or Homer.
It’s a short hop, flying 100 miles southwest from Anchorage over forbidding terrain before dropping into the small town of Port Alsworth within the park. From there, you can take a bush plane to get you wherever you want to go, with pick up and drop off itineraries that are easy and reliable to schedule on your own or with a reputable guide or outfitter.
Fixed-wing aircraft are allowed to land on all suitable lakes, rivers, beaches, gravel bars, and open ground in both the park and preserve unless the area is closed or otherwise restricted.
When weather and tides permit, the east side of the park on the Cook Inlet coast may be accessed by boat via an open-ocean crossing. The potentially rough waters of Cook Inlet prompt most park visitors to fly in rather than boat over.
Some charter boat services on the Kenai Peninsula offer tours that include portions of the Lake Clark coastline, drop-off and pick-up services, or custom charters. In general, these charters are not regularly scheduled and are arranged individually.
|Floatplane on the glass-like waters at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in southwestern Alaska (NPS)|
Map of the Park
Shown to the left is a map of Lake Clark National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service.
click the image to view maps at NPS
What Weather to Expect in Lake Clark
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve has two distinct climate areas: the coast and the interior. The coast is often foggy and wet, with an average annual rainfall of 40 to 80 inches. The interior averages only 17 to 26 inches. The same weather systems that bring precipitation to the coast also bring milder winters; the interior often suffers temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visitors to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve might bask in warm, gentle sunshine, be pummeled by fierce storms, or get soaked by rain. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and the mountainous terrain channels fierce winds. Gusts in the 30-50 mph range are not uncommon.
Frost and snow can occur any time, but are most common from September to early June. Lake Clark typically begins freezing in November and melts in April. Ice conditions dictate whether planes on floats or skis can land.
In general, visitors should be prepared to experience a number of different weather conditions during their stay in Lake Clark. Sturdy rain gear and waterproof footwear are a must, and smart travelers make sure to layer clothing.
Spring at Lake Clark National Park (NPS)
|Autumn at Lake Clark National Park (NPS)
|Glacier sliding through the rugged peaks of the Neacola Mountains in winter at Lake Clark National Park (NPS)|
Activities at Lake Clark
The park has no developed trails or other public facilities. Visitors may hire a guide. Enjoy a float trip down one of the park’s wild rivers or a backpacking trip through the open tundra of the western foothills. Between June and early August, viewers may see up to 30 brown bears along the tidal marshes of Tuxedni and Chitina Bays. In June, harbor seals bear their pups in Tuxedni Bay.
Many activities, such as backcountry hiking, camping, flightseeing, kayaking and rafting, require careful planning and a commitment of time in this vast wilderness. But because of the park's location to Alaska's largest city, many visitors interested in fishing, flight seeing or wildlife viewing arrive just for a day on a float plane, returning to Anchorage before dark.
Lodging and Dining
There is a variety of lodging options within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve from rustic camping, to bed and breakfasts, to all inclusive lodges offering guided excursions. However, unlike many larger parks, Lake Clark does not have a concessionaire who runs dining and lodging facilities on park property. All dining and lodging options are located on private property and owned and operated by private sector businesses. Contact each lodge directly to determine pricing and availability.
With a few exceptions, visitors may travel and camp where they like in this trail free environment
If you are not staying overnight at a lodge, you must provide all your own meals during your visit to the park. You may be able to make advanced arrangements for a meal with a lodge in the area you plan to visit.
| Bears at Lake Clark NP
|Beautiful reflective waters at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska (NPS)|
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