Aniakchak River, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

Aniakchak River, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

by | Jun 5, 2019

An unnamed island lies in Aniakchak Bay at the mouth of the Aniakchak River. The river is on the Alaska Peninsula and flows southeast for 27 miles (43.5 km) from Surprise Lake in the Aniakchak Crater to Aniakchak Bay, about 47 miles (75 km) northeast of Chignik, Alaska. The local name was first reported by W.R. Smith and A.A. Baker of the U.S. Geological Survey who referred to the river as the largest stream on the Alaska Peninsula flowing toward the Pacific Ocean.

The Aniakchak River was designated a national wild river in 1980 by the U.S. Congress. The river is floatable in small to medium rafts and kayaks. From Surprise Lake in the volcano crater, the river flows about a mile (1.6 km) to The Gates, which is a narrow gorge in the caldera wall. It then plunges through 15 miles (24 km) of rocky rapids rated between Class II (medium) to IV (very difficult) on the International Scale of River Difficulty. Below the rapids, the rest of the river is rated Class I (easy). After 5 more miles (8 km), the river slows and begins to meander toward Aniakchak Bay on the Pacific Ocean. In addition to rapids and low water temperatures, the area has notoriously bad weather with winds up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) that can damage equipment and prevent airplanes from landing at the lake or on the bay. Brown bears are frequently seen along the river and near the bay where they scavenge for food. These factors plus the remoteness and isolation limit the number of visitations and Aniakchak is known as the least visited unit in the National Park system.

The Aniakchak Bay Historic Landscape District surrounds the Aniakchak River from Aniakchak Crater to Aniakchak Bay. Archaeological surveys of the area have turned up evidence of native occupation over the last 2000 years. More recently, during the fishing boom of the early 20th century, Aniakchak had several fish traps and a razor clam fishery. The historic sites include the former Columbia River Packers Association cabin at the mouth of the river. Read more here and here. Explore more of Aniakchak here:

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