Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes Tour
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes Tour
On June 6th, 1912, a previously unknown volcanic vent (Novarupta) erupted in the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The lush, green Ukak river valley was buried beneath hundreds of feet of incandescent ash at temperatures of up to 2000°F. The water buried underneath the ash became superheated and worked its way up through the ash to the surface. These discharges of steam escaped from thousands of cracks and fissures to become fumaroles, giving the valley its name. Today, the valley floor has cooled significantly since the eruption and the "smokes" have disappeared. However, the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" is the only substantial ignimbrite sheet to have formed during recorded history. Besides its beauty, the size of the eruption, collapse of a mountain, and its continued scientific value make this a unique feature in the world. This eruption inspired Robert Griggs and the National Geographic Society to campaign for the establishment of Katmai National Monument so that future generations could explore this natural wonder.
During the operating season, daily tours are offered to this volcanic valley. Each day from June 7th to September 17th, you can take the bus tour from Brooks Camp out the 23 mile (36 km) park road to explore a tiny piece of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes with a Park Service ranger-naturalist. The road to the valley travels through the boreal forest, crossing three streams, and into the alpine tundra before arriving at Griggs Visitor Center. After a brief break for lunch, there is time for an optional hike down to the Valley floor to see the ash layer close up. The trail is three miles round-trip and drops 800 vertical feet. Remember to save enough energy for the arduous climb back to the top! Be sure to bring water, rain gear, warm clothing, and sturdy hiking boots for the trip. A fee is charged for the bus tour and reservations can be made through Katmailand, the park concessioner.
Did You Know?
The world's largest run of sockeye salmon occurs in Bristol Bay, Alaska each summer. Part of that salmon run move into Katmai National Park and Preserve through the Naknek and Alagnak rivers.