Iliamna Lake

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Iliamna Lake
from the northern shore
Location Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Coordinates 59°32′12″N 155°01′28″W / 59.53667°N 155.02444°W / 59.53667; -155.02444Coordinates: 59°32′12″N 155°01′28″W / 59.53667°N 155.02444°W / 59.53667; -155.02444[1]
Lake type oligotrophic
Primary outflows Kvichak River
Basin countries United States
Max. length 77 mi (124 km)[2]
Max. width 22 mi (35 km)[2]
Surface area 1,012.5 sq mi (2,622 km2)[2]
Average depth 144 ft (44 m)[2]
Max. depth 988 ft (301 m)[2]
Water volume 27.7 cu mi (115 km3)[2]
Residence time 7.8 years[2]
Surface elevation 46 ft (14 m)[1]
Settlements Iliamna, Newhalen, Kokhanok, Pedro Bay, Igiugig
References [1][2]

Iliamna Lake or Lake Iliamna is a lake in southwest Alaska, at the north end of the Alaska Peninsula, between Kvichak Bay and Cook Inlet, about 100 miles (160 km) west of Seldovia, Alaska.[1]

It is the largest lake in Alaska, eighth largest lake in the United States of America, and one of the largest in North America, covering about 2,600 km² (1,000 sq. miles). The lake is 77 miles (124 km) long and up to 22 miles (35 km) wide, with a maximum depth of 988 feet (301 m). Through the Kvichak River, its waters drain into Bristol Bay.[3]


Location of Iliamna in Alaska


The lake is marked as 'Oz[ero] Bol[shoy] Ilyamna' (Big Ilyamna Lake) on the Russian Hydrographical Department's Chart 1455, published in 1852. On an earlier Russian map, from 1802, the lake was named 'Oz[ero] Shelekhovo' (Lake Shelekov) after Russian explorer Grigory Shelekhov. According to G.C. Martin, of the United States Geological Survey, Iliamna is said to be "the name of a mythical great blackfish supposed to inhabit this lake, which bites holes in the bidarkas of bad natives."[1]

The name Iliamna is derived from the Inland Dena'ina Athabascan name Nila Vena, which means island's lake.[4]


Williamsport-Pile Bay Road portage[edit]

Originally constructed by the Alaska Road Commission during the mid 1930s, the Williamsport-Pile Bay Road is a utility-class road maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Connecting Pile Bay on the lake's northeast side with Williamsport, a tiny settlement on the Iliamna Bay of Cook Inlet (about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Homer), the road is 15.5 miles (24.9 km) long and one lane wide with four bridges. The Williamsport-Pile Bay Road is maintained as a gravel utility road for the purpose of hauling boats and freight, and is not intended for general purpose use. The road allows boats small enough to be hauled across the road's bridges an opportunity to portage from Cook Inlet to Bristol Bay, saving a trip on the open ocean which involves traveling around the Alaska Peninsula. For this and other reasons, the road is also believed to significantly reduce fuel costs for the Lake Iliamna and Bristol Bay regions.


Populated Places[edit]

The villages of Iliamna, Newhalen, Kokhanok, Pedro Bay, Pope-Vannoy Landing and Igiugig lie on the shores of Iliamna Lake.

Flora and Fauna[edit]


Iliamna Lake is noted for its sport fishing. The three primary targets of anglers in the lake are trout, salmon, and grayling. August through September is prime time for catching fat rainbow trout, some of which exceed 28 inches long. The Kvichak River Policy (the drainage of Lake Iliamna) is catch and release on trout (and all other native fish), but not on salmon. Sockeye (Red) and Chinook (King) Salmon are consistently found in the lake and are open to harvest under Alaska Department of Fish and Game Regulations. Lake Iliamna also has one of few populations of freshwater seals in the world.[5] It also serves as a nursery for the largest Red Salmon run in the world. Red salmon spend half of their 5 year lifespan in fresh water. This is longer than any other species of salmon.


Local residents have a number of stories about the alleged Iliamna Lake Monster, an aquatic creature much like the rumored Loch Ness Monster.[6] Speculation exists that reported sightings may be an undocumented population of white sturgeon. If true, this would be the most northerly population known to exist, just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. Jeremy Wade of Animal Planet's "River Monsters" is among those who speculate these sightings of a reputed "monster" is a White Sturgeon. Many others believe that it is a Pacific Sleeper Shark

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Iliamna Lake
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mathisen, Ole A.; Norma Jean Sands; Norma Haubenstock (July 2002). "Trophic ranking of biota in Iliamna Lake, Alaska" (PDF). Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. (Stuttgart) 28: 1060–1065. Retrieved 2008-11-13. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Profile of the People and Land of the United States". US Department of Interior, National Atlas of the United States. 
  4. ^ Kari, James; Russell Kari, Priscilla (1982). Dena'ina E\nena: Tanaina Country. Alaska Native Language Center. p. 17. 
  5. ^ "Resident Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) in Iliamna Lake, Alaska: Summer Diet and Partial Consumption of Adult Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)", Aquatic Mammals, July 2008.
  6. ^ Snifka, Lynne (October 2004). "Monstrous mysteries". Alaska. v. 70 (8): 44(4). ISSN 0002-4562. 

External links[edit]