Exploring Lake Clark National Park in Alaska

Lake Clark is one of the National Park System’s true gems—a large sliver of all of the best parts of Alaska rolled into one easy-to-get-to place. It is almost as if Mother Nature created it with explorers in mind, offering diverse environments for mountaineers, backpackers, paddlers, big-game fisherman, hikers, and photographers to play in. The lake that bares the park’s namesake is Lake Clark—a 40-mile, vividly turquoise-colored body of water that is fed by glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, and streams; and that is surrounded by volcanoes, mountains, tundra, freshwater lakes, forest, meadows, marshes, bogs, and sandy coastline… it is the best of wild Alaska rolled into one fine park.

Like most of Alaska’s national parks, it is one of the least visited of all 59—many have never even heard of it—a major draw for Alaska’s adventure circuit and residents alike who go there for its remoteness and untrammeled beauty. Entrance to the park and travel within it is possible only by plane, boat, or on foot. Flights are made easier with daily routes from Anchorage located just 100 miles away.

The first stop for most in Port Alsworth is at the Lake Clark National Park Visitor Center where backcountry permits and information is issued to incoming travelers. Nearby are several awesome day hikes—two of the most popular being the short and easy hike to Tanalian Falls; and a more difficult trek to the top of the Tanalian Mountain that towers over the bay where you can take in amazing panoramic views of Lake Clark and the surrounding mountains.

The Port Alsworth setting is immeasurably peaceful, but as it is the main thoroughfare to the national park, it is not without its fair share of people. Greater solitude can be found in the backcountry Lake Clark wilderness, and Port Alsworth is the perfect jumping off point to get you there.

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