Alaska’s lakes are an integral part of the natural and economic beauty of the state. These lakes provide stunning views for visitors and serve as a hub for local businesses that rely on their resources. Alaska’s lakes are crucial for sustaining commercial fisheries and fueling sport fishing.
Here are 12 of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Alaska.
1. Lake Clark: The Wildlife Sanctuary
Lake Clark is a special lake in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, known for its diverse wildlife and plants. Over 22,000 tourists flock to this area each year. The tourists are eager to witness the breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife, which includes bald eagles and brown bears. The lake is also popular for its sport fishing opportunities. To visit Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, you’ll need to take a small plane or float plane because there are no roads. The park is popular during the summer months. The region offers a variety of outdoor activities, including backpacking, trekking, rafting, kayaking, wildlife watching, and fishing.
2. Kenai Lake: The Zigzag Marvel
Kenai Lake is a stunning location in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. The zigzag shape, turquoise waters, and snow-capped mountains are popular features of the lake. The lake is quite sizable at 22 miles and 21.58 square miles in area. Glacial silt causes a beautiful blue-green color to form when glaciers melt and mix with the earth.
3. Skilak Lake: The Recreational Retreat
Skilak Lake is a beloved spot for nature lovers on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The Skilak Glacier feeds the Skilak Lake, a part of the Kenai River system. You can access the lake via the Skilak Lake Loop Road, which connects to the Sterling Highway. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge manages the lake. Skilak Lake is renowned for its peaceful ambiance, breathtaking views, and crystal-clear water with a rocky, uneven bottom.
4. Mendenhall Lake: The Glacial Beauty
Mendenhall Lake is a beautiful proglacial lake in the Mendenhall Valley, close to the Mendenhall Glacier in the Tongass National Forest of Southeast Alaska. The glacier’s retreat caused the formation of the approximately 1.5 miles long beautiful proglacial lake in the Mendenhall Valley. The lake perfectly reflects the greenery and glacier, making it a cherished sight.
5. Wonder Lake: The Scenic Splendor
Wonder Lake in Denali National Park offers stunning views of Denali Mountain. With a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level, you can admire the mountain’s reflection in the calm waters of the 15.49 km² lake without obstructions.
6. Chilkoot Lake: The Fishing Haven
If you’re a fishing enthusiast, Chilkoot Lake in Alaska’s Haines Region is a must-visit destination. The lake is pristine and boasts diverse fish species, like salmon and trout. Chilkoot River, connected to the lake, is another popular freshwater fishing spot in Southeast Alaska. Visitors can enjoy fishing, wildlife watching, and more in the tranquil waters.
7. Portage Lake: The Glacier Viewpoint
The stunning Portage Lake is in the Chugach National Forest valley and offers remarkable views of the nearby glaciers. The retreat of Portage Glacier caused the creation of this incredible, untouched Alaskan landscape known as the stunning Portage Lake. Tourists can take boat tours to get a better view of the glacier.
8. Eklutna Lake: The Wilderness Escape
Eklutna Lake is a stunning natural getaway located an hour north of Anchorage. This place has over 15 miles of shoreline and crystal-clear water, and it’s super essential for drinking water in the area. You can’t miss the nearby trails; they’re perfect for hiking and biking. You can enjoy a beautiful bike ride along the Eklutna Lakeside Trail leading to the backcountry. Following the lake’s shoreline, the trail stretches for 7 miles, winding through glacial gravel bars. The final mile is a footpath that passes through glacial debris. The trail is open for you to explore year-round.
9. Iliamna Lake: The Freshwater Giant
Iliamna Lake is a massive body of water in Alaska. This lake is the second biggest for freshwater in the US and the 24th biggest in North America. This lake is huge! The lake is 77 miles long and 22 miles wide, with a maximum depth of 988 feet. It is named after an elusive creature called the Iliamna blackfish, believed to inhabit the lake. Surrounding the lake, you’ll find several communities, including Iliamna, Newhalen, and Kokhanok.
10. Auke Lake: The Recreational Paradise
Auke Lake in Alaska offers many fun recreational activities. Enjoy water sports such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and rowing. For those who love outdoor activities, there are plenty of nearby options, including running, hiking, and biking. The lake and surrounding wilderness are perfect for outdoor activities. The Auke Lake Trail is well-maintained, easy, and informative, making it great for running or casual walks.
11. Becharof Lake: The Salmon Nursery
The Alaska Peninsula’s Becharof Lake is an impressive body of water that measures over 35 miles and is 15 miles wide. It has depths that can reach up to 600 feet. Bristol Bay is home to the second-largest sockeye salmon run in the world. This lake and its tributaries serve as a crucial breeding ground for these fish. Bristol Bay commercial fishery harvests a staggering 6 million sockeye salmon annually from the lake. It is well-known for being a salmon factory that spawns about 6 million sockeye salmon annually.
12. Summit Lake: The Elevated Oasis
Summit Lake offers stunning views and activities like hiking and fishing. Hikers, paragliders, and backcountry skiers love the Mat-Su Valley for its scenic views. You can find Summit Lake between miles 192 and 196 of the Richardson Highway (AR-4), on the south slope of the Alaska Range, above the tree line. It’s about 200 miles north of Valdez and 180 miles south of Fairbanks. The lake is south of Isabel Pass and is 3,300 feet above sea level. It’s about 6.28 square miles (16.3 km2), 7.1 miles long (11.4 km), and 1.1 miles wide (1.8 km).
The Role of Alaska’s Lakes in the Local Economy
Alaska’s lakes are not only beautiful, but they are also crucial for the economy. Lake Iliamna, the largest lake, is a popular spot for sport fishing. People come from all over the world to catch rainbow trout, salmon, and grayling. This brings in a lot of money and creates jobs through fishing lodges and guide services.
Becharof Lake is crucial in supporting the thriving Bristol Bay commercial fishery. This industry catches around six million fish annually from the lake. It provides employment opportunities for fishing, processing, and transportation. It also benefits local businesses that cater to these industries.
The recreational and tourism activities around the lakes boost the local economy. For example, businesses such as boating and camping services at Skilak Lake and sightseeing tours around the picturesque Mendenhall Lake flourish because of the allure of Alaska’s pristine waters. Alaska’s lakes are crucial from a natural perspective and contribute to the local economy by supporting nearby communities. This helps both the environment and the economy.
Alaska is known for its rugged beauty, and part of that beauty lies in the many mountain lakes scattered throughout the state. They offer recreation, breathtaking views, and a connection to nature. Visiting these lakes allows you to appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the state and enjoy a perfect nature getaway. These lakes showcase Alaska’s natural grandeur, with each lake having its own story of wilderness and beauty. It’s no wonder you can find some of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Alaska.
Summary of the 12 Most Beautiful Mountain Lakes in Alaska
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