Remote and rugged, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is one of the least visited units in the United States National Park System. If you’re looking for an untainted natural landscape without a soul in sight, you’ll find it at this truly wild park in Southwestern Alaska.
Inside the park is the 6-mile (9.7 km) wide Aniakchak Crater, a caldera created by a volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago.
The area includes a national monument and a national preserve; the national monument contains 137,176 acres (55,513 ha) and the preserve 464,118 acres (187,822 ha). According to official data, this is one of the least visited areas in the National Park System, with about 100 visitors per year.
- King Salmon Visitor Center (next to King Salmon Airport). 8AM–5PM in summer. Not in the park, but rather in King Salmon. Provides information, maps, and more.
The region was virtually unexplored until the 1920s, when exploration for oil brought reports of a volcano. In 1931 the volcano erupted, forming Vent Mountain. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter declared the area a national monument, and in 1980 it was established as a monument and preserve.
The core of the national monument encompasses the 6-mile (9.7 km) wide Aniakchak Crater. The high point on the caldera rim is Aniakchak Peak. The lake within the caldera, Surprise Lake, is the source of the Aniakchak River. Multiple streams and rivers within the caldera flow into Surprise Lake to form it. In addition to Surprise Lake, the other prominent feature inside the caldera is Vent Mountain, the site of the most recent (1931) eruption within the caldera. The preserve lands flank the monument on either side.