Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park in southwestern Alaska. It was first proclaimed a national monument in 1978, then established as a national park and preserve in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The park includes many streams and lakes vital to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, including its namesake Lake Clark.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve covers 1,630,889 ha at the base of the Alaska Peninsula in southcentral Alaska. Of the total area, about 1,067,000 ha lie in the park and 570,000 ha in the preserve. The park and associated national preserve extend from the Cook Inlet across the Chigmit Mountains and the Neacola Mountains, on the northern end of the Aleutian Range, and on into the Alaska interior. Lake Clark is the largest lake in the park, on the southwest corner of the park. The national preserve lands adjoin park lands on the west, offering both subsistence and sport hunting, in contrast to parklands, where only subsistence hunting by local residents is allowed. The extreme southwest section of the preserve includes Alaskan Native corporation lands, which are not open to the public. Most of the park section is designated as wilderness. The eastern part of the park near the Cook Inlet includes two active volcanoes, Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna. A third, Mount Spurr, is just outside the park to the east. The chief river in the park is the Kvichak River. Another large river, the Tlikakita, runs across the park from its source at Summit Lake to Lake Clark, emerging from the lake and the park as the Newhalen River.
Located about 160 kilometres southwest of Anchorage, the park includes a variety of features not found together in any of the other Alaska Parks: the junction of three mountain ranges, a coastline with rainforests along the Cook Inlet, a plateau with alpine tundra on the west, glaciers, glacial lakes, major salmon-bearing rivers, and two volcanoes, Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna. Redoubt is active, erupting in 1989 and 2009. The wide variety of ecosystems in the park mean that virtually all major Alaskan animals, terrestrial and marine, may be seen in and around the park. Salmon, particularity sockeye salmon, play a major role in the ecosystem and the local economy. The Kvichak River is the world's most productive watershed for sockeye salmon. Large populations of brown bears are attracted as a result, to feed on the spawning salmon in the Kijik River and at Silver Salmon Creek, and as a result bear viewing is a common activity in the park.
The park and preserve are open 24 hours per day year round. Seasonal and temporary closures of visitor centers and parts of the park and preserve occur though.
There are no fee areas in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Camping does not require reservations and permits are not required for backcountry travel or camping.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is not on the road system; therefore, access is primarily by small aircraft. 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 in addition to aircraft.
A one to two-hour flight from Anchorage, Kenai or Homer will provide access to most points within Lake Clark. The following air taxi operators are organized by the park location they most often travel to and their community of origin. However, they are not limited to those destinations, and may land anywhere in the park and preserve. Prices depend on group size, type of airplane, length of flight, and where the flight originates.
Several 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.
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. There is also one cafe in Port Alsworth open during the summer at the General Lodge.
There are a wide variety of lodging options within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve from rustic camping opportunities, to bed and breakfasts, to all inclusive lodges offering guided excursions.
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