Imuruk Lake

A part of Imuruk Lake next to a small portion of the Imuruk Lava Beds.
Imuruk Lake next to the 100,000 acre Imuruk Lava Beds.

NPS Photo


Imuruk Lake borders the northern edge of 100,000 acres that make up the Imuruk Lava Beds in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. The seeming harshness of the lava beds contrasts with the apparent vitality of Imuruk Lake. The two create an interesting landscape of shapes and colors. Early people to enter this area of the preserve probably viewed the lava beds and the lake equally valuable for different types of resources. The lava beds have an abundance of small rodents and loose rubble and the lake is home to fish and birds. The area surrounding Imuruk Lake was also a place where the territorial boundaries of four nineteenth century regional groups met. The rich resources in the area brought several groups for caribou drives and other subsistence activities. At times, these groups fought over territory boundaries near Imuruk Lake. However, their interactions did not always come to violence; instead, the meetings sometimes involved trade and cooperation. Evidence of the various groups that used Imuruk Lake still remain, showcasing the many ways humans have interacted with the preserve.

The caribou hunts at Imuruk Lake required a large amount manpower, as well as careful planning and organizing. At one spot near the lake, hunters built a series of fence-like stone cairns meant to funnel caribou over the edge of a ridge onto a small flat area bordering the lake. A second group of hunters waiting in kayaks, ambushed the caribou as the panicked animals ran into the lake. Stone rubble from the Imuruk Lava Beds supplied materials to build cairns, hunting blinds, and food caches. These stone structures were vital to the survival of early people because of the difficulty finding other types of usable materials.

Last updated: November 8, 2016

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