Aniakchak National Monument

Park in Alaska Peninsula

Aniakchak’s centerpiece is a six-mile-wide caldera (a massive crater formed when a volcano collapses inwards) that sits in the middle of the narrow Alaska peninsula. The caldera has a dramatic effect on the local weather, causing clouds to billow over the edges of the crater rim in what have been christened ‘cloud Niagaras’.

More people orbit the earth annually than set foot in Aniakchak National Monument, the least visited segment of the US National Park Service’s 400 protected areas where the annual visitor count routinely struggles to break a ‘score’. High travel costs, volatile weather, 1000lb bears (lots of ‘em), and a curious lack of knowledge about the area’s Garden of Eden landscapes deter the bulk of would-be adventurers. What they’re missing defies written description. Imagine a kind of psychedelic cross between Crater Lake and the Ngornongoro Crater with a bit of the Colorado River thrown in for good measure.

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