The United States Congress designated the Becharof Wilderness (map
) in 1980 and it now has a total of 400,000 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Alaska
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Becharof Wilderness is bordered by
the Katmai Wilderness
to the north.
Set where the state begins to slim down into the Alaska Peninsula, 35-mile-by-15-mile Becharof Lake is Alaska's second largest body of inland water (only Lake Iliamna is larger). Becharof Wilderness, about one-third of the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, extends from the lake's northeastern shore south to the Pacific Ocean. Becharof Lake is also the world's second largest salmon nursery. When the salmon spawn, brown bears cluster here in greater numbers than anywhere else. Some actually den on islands in the lake, a behavior noted nowhere else on Earth. On the coast, Puale Bay provides haul-out beaches for thousands of Steller sea lions and other sea mammals. Multitudes of seabirds come and go along a coastline cut deeply by misty fjords (steep cliffs falling into narrow saltwater bays). Wolves, moose, and members of a caribou herd numbering 15,000 are commonly sighted.
Becharof shows the scars of recent volcanic activity. Mount Peulik (4,835 feet) leaks gasses from rocks at its foot near the southern shore of Becharof Lake. In 1977, violent eruptions formed the shallow, broad, low-rimmed craters of Ukinrek Maars, also near the lake.
Hunters score an unusually high success rate with bears and caribou. Wildlife observers and photographers are common human visitors. Bear precautions are in order. Summer temperatures may rise into the 70s. Rainfall has reached 160 inches per year on the Pacific side of the Alaska Peninsula.