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Unimak Wilderness

General Area Management Wilderness Laws Images
The Shishaldin and Isanotski volcanes are blanketed in snow and thin clouds scuttle about them as they stand silently.
Library image #2019: Shishaldin and Isanotski Volcanoes, Unimak Island, July 2006

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Unimak Wilderness (map) in 1980 and it now has a total of 910,000 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Alaska and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Description

At almost one million acres, huge Unimak Island extends west from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. Only a relatively thin strip of sea separates Unimak from Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and Unimak Island may someday transfer from being a subunit of the Aleutian Islands Unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge to being a part of Izembek. About 93 percent of Unimak Island has been designated Wilderness.

Here you'll see the nearly perfect cone of Shishaldin Volcano, the highest cone in the Aleutians. At 9,372 feet, it served as a navigational aid first for Aleuts and later for Russian seafarers. Shishaldin and two other Unimak volcanoes are active, surrounded by extensive lava flows and fields of bare ash. On the highest peaks of the island lie perpetual snowfields, some covering glaciers. Fisher Caldera has gone dormant and is now filled with icy water.

The coastline features steep bluffs with many offshore sea stacks where seabirds and marine mammals may be seen frequently. Near the shoreline, wetlands provide nesting, feeding, and resting habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds, including whistling swans, geese (Canada, emperor, and black brant), sea ducks, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, green-winged and common teal, common goldeneyes, and greater scaup. Brown bears have migrated to Unimak, swimming from the mainland and living near caribou, wolves, and wolverines.

The coast of Unimak offers sea kayaking possibilities, and the interior, although typically wet and virtually without trail, provides an opportunity to hike across rolling tundra and treeless grasslands, a wild and lonesome land. Carry a stove and plenty of fuel; firewood is scarce away from the driftwood-littered shore.

Planning to Visit the Unimak Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Unimak Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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