A much-anticipated trip to Alaska happened this summer after being postponed a year, and I’m so excited to share all about the parks we explored!! First up, Lake Clark National Park.
Lake Clark National Park is the epitome of rugged Alaska, and I am all about it. There are no roads, campgrounds, or services in the park, so getting there requires a little bit of effort. We flew into Port Alsworth via 9-passener plane from Merrill Air Field in Anchorage (separate from Ted Stevens International Airport). At the time, this was the smallest plane I’d ever been on, but sure enough, that wouldn’t hold true for very long 😉. Although it was overcast and rainy, the views flying into Port Alsworth were simply out of this world- we flew right through a glacial pass and the views were incredible.
Fast Facts About Lake Clark:
-Lake Clark National Park & Preserve protects more than 4 million acres of diverse habitats (glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, streams, lakes, etc.) ranging in elevation from sea level to over 10,000 feet.
-Established as a park in December 1980.
-Only 6.9 miles of maintained trails in the park.
-Extremely high number of brown bears. Brown bears who are more inland (Port Alsworth area), interact with fewer individuals in their lifetime than a coastal bear (Cook Inlet area). Because these solitary bears in Port Alsworth have much less interaction, they are less tolerant of other bears, wildlife, and people they encounter.
The main activity we had planned for our day was to hike to Tanalian Falls. It was also recommended by some new friends we met on our flight from Anchorage that we hike past the falls to Kontrashibuna Lake. I’m not going to lie, we were a little (lot) nervous to do some solo hiking (because, bears) but, at the same time, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for an amazing hike in this rugged national park. So, we put on our big girl hiking pants, rented some bear spray from the lodge, left our food behind, and were on our merry way. We signed a hiker’s registry at the beginning of our hike, so at least if we got eaten by a bear, someone would have a ballpark idea of when it happened 😉. We were alone for the majority of our hike in- no bears were seen, but the scat was plentiful. We sang most of the way (Disney songs, of course) and found some sticks to beat together loudly and against trees.
Eventually we made it to the falls, and it was well worth it. Viewpoints were accessible from both above and below the falls. After taking in the views, we headed onwards to Kontrashibuna Lake. In my opinion, the lake was nothing spectacular, but it was also quite cloud covered and I feel like we didn’t end up at the best viewpoint. Our hike back was much more comfortable- we had an idea of where we were, and there were several groups we passed by hiking, making it feel a little bit “safer” on the trail. Overall, I’m super happy we did the hike and didn’t let our fear of getting eaten by a bear get in the way, haha!
After our hike we ate a nice lunch and hung around the lake area. We debated renting a canoe, but since we were not staying at the lodge for the night, it would’ve been pricey, as they didn’t have an hourly rate. We just continued to take in the views and walked around the lake until our flight left that evening- nothing to complain about there!
Our plane back to Anchorage was MUCH smaller than our plane into Port Alsworth. We flew back on a Beachcraft Bonanza, and it included our pilot, my friend, myself, and many boxes of salmon being transported to Anchorage- so WILD!! We were both pretty nervous to fly back in this small of a plane, but it was literally amazing. Plus, the clouds had cleared and blue skies were ahead- I had to keep pinching myself because this flight felt like an actual dream. It was without a doubt, my favorite National Park experience to date.