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Becharof Lake, the second* largest lake in Alaska, is located on the Alaskan Peninsula. Stretching an incredible 290,000 acres, the lake measures 35 miles long and 15 miles wide and reaches depths of as much as 600 feet. Deep in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Becharof Lake offers its visitors an unforgettable setting for hunting, fishing, hiking, and observing wildlife.
Located in the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, Becharof Lake provides a scenic and unforgettable backdrop for such pastimes as fishing, hunting, hiking and enjoying Alaska's plentiful wildlife. The wildlife refuge offers a variety of breathtaking scenery, from craggy cliffs along the coast, sandy beaches, gently slopes, stark tundra and volcanic Mount Peulik on Becharof Lake's southern shoreline. The 1.2 million-acre wilderness can only be reached by boat , plane or a rugged hike along an unmarked trail. Most visitors take a commercial flight from Anchorage to nearby King Salmon Airport before heading into the wilderness.
Popular activities at the refuge include hunting, especially for bear, caribou, and moose, fishing, hiking, and camping. The refuge's stunning vistas and varied wildlife also make it an ideal place for wilderness observation and photography. Approximately 500,000 acres of the refuge have been designated by Congress as the Becharof Wilderness, insuring that this land will be protected for many more generations of nature lovers to enjoy.
Becharof Lake is best known for its salmon population. The lake and its tributaries spawn an estimated 6 million sockeye salmon per year, making it the second largest producer of the fish in the world. In addition, the lake and surrounding streams are home to arctic char, grayling, trout, dolly varden, northern pike, and burbot. Fishing is available year-round, and most visiting anglers take advantage of local commercial fishing guides to find the best fishing spots.
The lake's large population of salmon attract brown bear, which can be found at Becharof in some of the largest numbers in the state. The bear have been known to inhabit dens on islands in the lake, a behavior that has not been observed anywhere else in the world. Large numbers of caribou also reside in the land surrounding Becharof Lake, as well as moose, wolverine, and fox. A trip to the nearby coastline affords more nature watching opportunities. Eagles and falcons often nest in the steep cliffs towering above the shoreline. Seals, sea lions, and sea otters can be spotted frolicking in the frigid waters and basking on the sandy beaches, and whales can be found just offshore.
Becharof Lake can be enjoyed from the air by visitors not inclined to weeks of strenuous hiking: 'Flightseeing' trips can be arranged over the Wildlife Refuge so the visitor can see as much as possible in a short period of time. Mount Peulik's 4846-foot cone is reflected in the lake's surface and gaseous clouds can often be seen rising from the cone. Volcanic activity has been observed near here as recently as 1977 when the Ukinrek Maars craters formed. Thw gassy rocks produce a steady stream of carbon dioxide: the gases heat the water at the base, causing hot springs often reach temperatures as high as 120 degrees.
For those seeking adventure in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, Becharof Lake offers the trip of a lifetime. Whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, or just observing the beauty of your surroundings, Becharof won't disappoint. The Becharof Wilderness beckons, promising its visitors a glimpse of natural wonders that they will never forget.
*Acreage figures are from the Alaskan Dept of Hydrology. Shoreline lengths are not given as most of Alaska's large lakes have ill-defined shorelines: water collecting in the lakes does not pass thru the permafrost level and thus must either dissipate via evaporation or river drainage. Most shorelines are seasonal wetlands and their size depends on the amount of snow-melt and precipitation. Many lakes have no outlet so water simply continues to collect there, causing the lake to grow larger.
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