In southern Alaska, between the branches of Cook Bay, called Knik and Turnagain, at the foot of the Chugach Mountains lies the city and seaport of Anchorage. It is by far the largest city in the state – it has about 300,000 inhabitants, which is about 45% of the total population of Alaska. Anchorage covers an area of 4,396 km2 and today is a major transportation, economic and communications hub, especially for most of central and western Alaska.
The history of the town dates back to 1915, when a small settlement was established here, which was a kind of headquarters in the area and served as a crossroads in the transport of gold from the country. The construction of the railway leading to the town of Fairbanks was also controlled from there. In 1920 there were about 1800 inhabitants, in 2007 it was already 270 thousand. Anchorage experienced a major economic boom in the late 1960s when oil was discovered in the Prudhoe Bay area and elsewhere.
The development of the city was severely affected by the event of 1964. At that time, a massive earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale shook this corner of the world. The earthquake caused considerable damage and loss of life, but the work of destruction was completed by a massive tidal wave, which as a result swept over the city. Fortunately, the city woke up relatively quickly from this crisis and is thriving again today. How the local landscape has changed is evident in the nearby Earthquake Park.
The city’s economy is deeply connected to Alaska’s rich natural resources, especially oil, gas and fish. Two nearby United States military bases built during World War II – Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base – are major local employers. Anchorage is also home to the main international airport called Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Thanks to Glenn Highway, it is connected to Alaska Highway, connecting Alaska with British Columbia and the rest of the United States.
According to existingcountries, the city is not particularly attractive for tourists, it is rather a strategic place. Tourists either arrive here by boat or land by plane and then undertake adventurous expeditions to the interior of Alaska. In Anchorage, they can pick up supplies for the trip, rent a car or hire a guide. It is also possible to spend the night here and recharge your batteries, or to acclimatize from a time lag.
In the southwest of Alaska, the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve Protected Area is located in the Aleutian Peninsula on the Alaska Peninsula. It was founded in 1978 on an area of 244,040 hectares and today protects wild animal species, endemic plant species and a unique natural environment.
The reserve is dominated by the stratovolcano Aniakchak, whose crater has an average of almost 10 kilometers and reaches a depth of about 600 meters. Although it reaches a height of only 1341 meters above sea level, it is considered one of the largest volcanoes of its kind in the world due to its stunning size. Its origin dates back to 1645, when a massive eruption took place here. Even today, it is an active volcano and in the past it created at least ten lava flows. The last documented eruption occurred in 1931. In the middle of the crater (caldera) is Lake Surprise, which is a source of water for the river Aniakchak.
Due to its remote location, poor accessibility and constantly unfavorable weather, Aniakchak is one of the least visited places in Alaska. If you still go to these places, equip yourself with quality and warm clothing, which will provide you with protection against unpleasant weather changes. There are no official hiking trails in the area, so most of the time you will go through an impenetrable forest, in which case you will go on an animal trail.
But here, remember the principles that must be followed in the event of an encounter with a bear, for example. If possible, make a noise during the trip to inform the wild animals about your movement. Never venture into these unexplored parts alone, but in a large group. Before the trip, you should also inform your local park rangers or rangers, who could find you on the route in the event of an accident. It is not possible to expect that you will come across similar adventurers along the way. You just have to rely on yourself. You do not need a special permit to enter the park.
The King Salmon Information Center can provide further important information. In the visitor center you have the opportunity to learn about the rich history of Alaska and appreciate the local nature and culture. Here you can watch a large collection of nature films about Alaska, you will find a library with maps, navigation, videos, posters and more.
The Aniakchak River flowing through this area is a popular place for rafting enthusiasts. Even with this adrenaline rush, it is necessary to take into account the constant variability of the weather. An extremely strong wind, which is nothing special here, can make your trip quite complicated. In addition, in some places the river flows only through a narrow gorge between the rocks, so it is necessary to go on such a trip with professionals who master precise maneuvering. You can cross the Aniakchak River to the Pacific Ocean while watching seals, sea otters, seabirds and birds of prey.