Lake Clark's first people are of Alaska Native descent and came to this region a millennia ago. In more recent times, Russian explorers and missionaries arrived in the 18th century, quickly followed by prospectors, trappers, and entrepreneurs from Western Europe, Canada and the United States. Despite this relatively rapid exposure to the wider world, the native communities of the region retain their traditions and languages. Today's Lake Clark is a mix of various ethnicities, founded upon a collaborative history.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a place where natural processes dominate. Four of the five biotic communities found in Alaska - coastal, lakes/rivers/wetlands, tundra, and boreal forest - exist in the park. Two active volcanoes - Mount Iliamna and Mount Redoubt - tower above the landscape. Glaciers wind their way down into valleys where the Alaska and Aleutian ranges join.
Flora and fauna
A full compliment of subarctic fish, wildlife,and plant species make their homes in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve's various ecosystems. Salmon pass through tidal estuaries on their way to spawning grounds in mountain lakes and streams, chased by hungry seals and brown bears. Dall sheep share treacherous mountain slopes with delicate alpine wildflowers. Once-endangered peregrine falcons occupy eyries on cliffs where they can easily hunt migrating and nesting waterfowl. Follow the links below to explore the plants and animals of the park and preserve.
Lake Clark has two distinct climate areas: the coast and the interior. The coast is wetter and experiences milder temperatures. The interior gets half to one fourth as much precipitation, but temperatures are hotter in summer and colder in winter. Frost and snow can occur any time parkwide, but are most common from September to early June. Lakes here typically begins freezing in November and melting in April. Ice conditions dictate whether planes need floats or skis to land on lakes.
Almost all visitors must arrive by air. The park's lands and waters are open to fixed-wing aircraft. There are no fixed runways or FBO services within the park. Port Alsworth, immediately west of the park, has two private airstrips (ramp fee will be charged) where fuel is available.
Weather and tides permitting, the coastline may be approached by boat.
There is no car access to any part of the park.
Fees and permits
There are no fees or permits anywhere within the park.
- 1 Port Alsworth Visitor Center (The visitor center is located midway up the eastern-most runway in Port Alsworth). Open in the summer only, the visitor center is located midway up the eastern-most runway in Port Alsworth. Speak with a ranger, receive assistance with any final trip planning needs, obtain free park brochures, purchase a souvenir at the Alaska Geographic bookstore, or watch free films about Dick Proenneke and other aspects of the park.
- 2 Lake Clark.
- 3 Iliamna Volcano. 10,016 feet tall and covered in glaciers, active Iliamna Volcano is a landmark that displays both fire and ice.
- 4 Redoubt Volcano. An active stratovolcano that rises 10,197 feet from nearby sea level. Ash fall during recent eruptions have disrupted air traffic and have fallen in southcentral Alaska communities including the state's largest city, Anchorage.
- 5 Richard L. Proenneke Cabin (Upper Twin Lake is northeast of Port Alsworth, and is not on the road system. The lake can be accessed by float plane from many locations or by boat from Lower Twin Lake.). Step into the home of one of Alaska's foremost wilderness icons, Richard L. Proenneke, who built his cabin by hand using his own clever innovations. Located on the south shore of Upper Twin Lake, Proenneke's wilderness home showcases his remarkable craftsmanship and reflects his unshakeable wilderness ethic.
- 1 Priest Rock Public Use Cabin (The cabin is 8 miles from Port Alsworth by boat or floatplane.). The Priest Rock Cabin sits on the north shore of Lake Clark, approxiately eight miles north of Port Alsworth. The cabin is perched above a small creek that runs into the lake. It commands a sublime view of Lake Clark's upper reaches, backed by mountains rising to 6,000 feet. It's an ideal place for kayaking, boating, fishing and wildlife viewing. The cabin was originally built and lived in by long-time Alaskan Allen Woodward of Anchorage who was a summer resident of Lake Clark from about 1950 to the early 2000s. The cabin is rustic and accomodates up to six people. It is equipped with a wood stove, table, chairs and a nearby outhouse. Sleeping accomodations include wooden bunks--three single beds and one queen bed. There is no electricity or running water at the cabin. Fresh water is available in the lake but must be treated. Available for stays of 1-5 days in the spring, summer and fall. Reservations must be made in advance through recreation.gov. $65 per night (2020 rates).
- 2 Joe Thompson Public Use Cabin (The cabin is 13 miles from Port Alsworth by boat or floatplane.). The Joe Thompson Cabin is a small two-room rehabilitated log cabin located on the north shore of Lake Clark, about 13 miles northeast of Port Alsworth. It stands in a semi-open clearing surrounded by a white spruce and white birch forest. A historic trail attached to the Thompson Historic District connected Joe Thompson to his last prospecting site approximately one and one half miles to the east. The cabin is rustic and accommodates up to three people. It is equipped with a wood stove, table, chairs and a nearby outhouse. Sleeping accommodations are wooden bunks (two twin beds, bring your own pads). There is no electricity or running water at the cabin. Fresh water is available in the lake but must be treated. Available for stays of 1-5 days in the spring, summer and fall. Reservations must be made in advance through recreation.gov. $65 per night (2020 rates).
Backcountry hikers are requested to fill out a free registration form, which can assist rangers in the event of a rescue.