Lake Clark National Park

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Upper Twin Lake
Upper Twin Lake, NPS

Lake Clark marks the 4th profile of the National Parks of Alaska.  We’re halfway through the state, but these next few are difficult.  Lake Clark National Park & Preserve protects just over 4 million acres of land, for comparison purposes, that’s just about double the size of Yellowstone.  Yet, it got just 16,000 visitors in 2014.  That’s not a lot of people for such a large area.  Compared to Denali, it’s about a million acres larger, but get’s 1/30 the number of visitors.  Part of that is due to the remoteness of it.

Lake Clark is only about 100 miles south west of Anchorage, but those are miles as the crow flies, which, is the only way to access the park.  There are no roads to Port Alsworth Alaska, population 159.  You have to fly in.  You could take a boat I guess, but flying is easier.  From this little town, you have many jumping off points into the park itself.  Lake Clark is a 40 mile long, 5 mile wide main attraction.  It’s right at the gateway to the park in Port Alsworth, there are a few established trails you can go on to the lake shore, and a waterfall, otherwise, the remainder of the park is wilderness, and the easiest way to get around is via float plane.

You can kayak around Lake Clark, or one of the many other lakes in the park, and in the Preserve section, you can hunt and fish.  The edges of the park located on the Cook Inlet are in prime Bear Viewing territory, not as popular as Katmai, but much more intimate, if you can manage to get there that is.

Dick Proenneke's Cabin
Dick Proenneke’s Cabin

One of the most famous residents of the Lake Clark area was Richard, (Dick), Proenneke.  In the late 1960s, Dick Proenneke retired and settled into the Twin Lakes region of Alaska.  There he built his own log cabin by hand using materials he scavenged from the land.  He kept meretricious journals, and filmed the whole process as he slowly built up his own log cabin home.  This footage has been released as a documentary, Alone in the Wilderness, you should watch it, it’s pretty amazing, here’s an excerpt from it:

Dick lived up in the Twin Lakes region, which is in north of Lake Clark, and the easiest way to get there is via float plane.  The National Park Service keeps his original log cabin maintained, and offers guided tours of the area, if you can get up there that is.  And you should, because the Twin Lakes region is what the top photo looks like, beautiful turquoise lakes with mountains on all sides, and that’s just during the short summer months.  In the winter, if you feel like getting up there, the scenery is even more beautiful.

I think Lake Clark is one of the more hidden gems of the National Park System, and hopefully my trip up there next summer will prove me right.

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