King Salmon is located near the north shore of the Naknek River in the Alaskan panhandle, off of Kvichak Bay. The area flourishes by way of the expansive food web that near by Bristol Bay provides. The ecosystems in King Salmon rely on a variety of wildlife, most importantly, the abundance of salmon populations. The rivers that lace through this region supply world class fishing for both tourists and bears alike.
This area is protected by the Aleutian Islands, keeping the persistent storms from the coast moving towards the east. This leaves the area relatively dry during the summer and winter months. King Salmon is a subpolar region. This is causation for some of the more extreme temperature ranges that can happen here in all of the seasons. Location wise, King Salmon is just below the southern most line for permafrost.
The Yup’ik peoples were the first stewards of this land. In the same vein, this area had a mixture of different nomadic tribes living here. The people held values that the land was sacred and blessed by bountiful resources. The indigenous peoples lived in partnership with the land by means of hunting, fishing, and gathering. They specialized in trade, maintaining routes from sea to land, and even created closed and open seasons for hunting and fishing. (Brittanica)
As Alaska developed around Russian culture and influxes of trade, the native people were eventually “managed” out of their land by new resident trades or by disease. Russians established trade with the people but the land would eventually make it’s way into the ownership of the United States. WWII started, as did the construction of a military base for the Air Force.
The eruption of Novarupta in 1912 left a blanket of ash over much of Alaska, including King Salmon. In 1918, once the ash settled, Katmai National Park and Preserve was established, encompassing the village. King Salmon expanded in 1949 with the construction of both a post office and a roadway that connects to Naknek. Transportation and the fishing community continued to grow from these establishments. (Bristol Bay)
King Salmon Today
Today King Salmon is accessible by plane or boat, helping to maintain features of remote and pristine wilderness. Anchorage airport does offers direct flights to the area. This region still thrives on commercial fishing, tourism, and transportation. Many visitors use King Salmon as a hub to access Katmai and The Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Native and Russian culture decorate aspects of the community still. And the fishing docks remain lively with fresh catches and the community that thrives on the bay and shorelines.
What to Do, Where to Go
Exploring the outdoors through activities like hiking, river rafting, plane sightseeing, fishing, is easily available in King Salmon. This region is known for it’s close proximity to Brooks Camp, where you can view wild brown bears catching and eating salmon from the rivers. Additionally, Katmai National Park and Preserve serves as 4.2 million acres of post volcanic landscape to explore nearby.
Many visitors come for the renowned fishing opportunities. There are a hundreds of fisheries that supply commercial services and equipment down the Naknek River. Sea kayaking companies provide guided tours and rentals so as to explore the coastlines. There are even chances to spot the Pacific Walrus. This locations ocean sides are the only place you can spot this walrus in all of North America.