Monumental Alaska Volcano Eruption Remembered
Novarupta Volcano expelled more than three cubic miles of magma, blanketing the area. For 60 hours, the mountain shot ash and gas into the sky, darkening the entire area for miles. Six miles away, the summit of Mount Katmai caved in on itself as magma and debris drained out from under it, leaving a two-mile crater lake surrounded by mountain peaks and calving glaciers. The valley was covered in smoldering volcanic deposits that continued to vent smoke for several years, leading explorer Robert Grigg to give it its current name, the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.
Today, the park is a coveted travel destination with nearly 5 million acres of spectacular recreational territory. Katmai National Park and Preserve is accessible only by air and water. It is located across from Kodiak Island past the Shelikof Strait. Park headquarters are located in King Salmon, a 290-mile flight southwest of Anchorage. There are commercial flights to King Salmon but visitors must charter floatplanes to access the different areas of the park from King Salmon, Homer and Kodiak. Day trips are also available from Anchorage, where flight-service operators pair with guides to take guests to bear-viewing hot spots while enjoying a scenic flight. The King Salmon Visitor Center is open to the public during the summer season from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. The park is open year-round, but few services are available outside the summer season.
Most famous for its up close and personal brown bear viewing opportunities, Katmai National Park is also a popular destination for sport fishing. Its lakes are rich with all five species of salmon, lake trout and trophy-size rainbow trout. Ranger-guided activities including bus tours to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes and bear viewing along the Brooks River are available through the Brooks Camp from June 7- September 17. Other outdoor activities include hiking on Dumpling Mountain and kayaking or canoeing along the lakes and rivers on the Savonosky Loop.
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