What prompted the creation of the Katmai National Park was the eruption of Novaropta in 1912, the largest recorded in modern times. Acid rain burned clothing lines as far as Vancouver, and locally a lantern held at arm's length could not be seen for days. The floor of a vast Valley was buried in 700 feet of pumice and ash, and its surface was found by a 1916 National Geographic expedition to be steaming with thousands of fumaroles, hence the name Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Nowadays, the fumaroles are gone from the valley floor, however nearly a century of harsh weather has enhanced its beauty, and one can now gaze into river canyons hundreds of feet deep where the layers of pumice and ash have been slowly eroded by the channeled rain and snowmelt.
Eureka Wang and I set up to backpack in the Valley for a week. Although bad weather thwarted our attempts to climb the high peaks surrounding the valley, we left with memorable impressions of an eerily unique landscape.
See also scenic and wildlife pictures of Katmai National Park.
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