Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Don’t let the serene name and pristine lakes reflecting the grandeur of its towering mountains mislead you, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is as rugged and extreme as it is peaceful and still. With no roads in the park and swift, unpredictable weather changes, a visit to Lake Clark requires its visitors to plan ahead and be prepared for anything. Even camping and hiking require prior arrangement. There is only one maintained hiking trail and no developed campgrounds within the park. The area is also known for its active seismic and volcanic activity. The park receives one to two earthquakes per year at an average of 5 on the Richter scale. Gases are routinely emitted from the park’s two volcanoes — Redoubt and Iliamna, and Redoubt’s latest eruption was in 2009. Due to all of the extremes, much of the 4.03 million acres of land lie vast and untouched by human hands, begging the prepared and vigilant adventurer to explore its unmarred beauty.
Established on December 2, 1980, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is filled with rugged snow-capped mountains and dozens of exquisite, crystal clear lakes. The park’s namesake, Lake Clark, is the largest, at 42 miles long, and is filled with several types of large, thriving salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, and northern pike. The ample salmon and other fish prove to be a haven for both fishermen and Brown Bears alike. Lake Clark is the gateway to the only paved hiking trail in the park: Tanalian Falls Trail, an easy 2.5 mile hike which weaves along the rocky and winding Tanalian River. The trail leads hikers to the beautiful Tanalian Falls, a rushing waterfall which splits between a huge boulder into the river below. The trail ends at the pristine Kontrashibuna Lake, with tranquil views of the snow-capped mountain peaks, rocky shores, and sapphire blue lake.
The best time to visit Lake Clark is during the summer, when temperatures are a mild 50-60 degrees, and colorful wild flowers are in full bloom. Summer is also the best time to take advantage of the world-renowned river rafting that the park has to offer. With three National Wild Rivers: the Mulchatna, Chilikadrotna, and Tlikakila, rafters are in for a hair-raising adrenaline rush. The Mulchatna is 230 miles long and has rapids up to class III, the Chilikadrotna river, (“Chilly” for short) provides adventurers with a short trip of narrow, winding rapids, with a few class III rapids, and the 150 mile Tlikakila river can deliver a truly unforgettable experience with several gnarly Class IV rapids. Whether you’re seeking an exciting adventure, or refreshing solitude, you will be able to pave your own unique experience within this rugged and breathtaking landscape.