Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai National Park and Preserve

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#53 of 113 in Nature in Alaska
Volcano · Hidden Gem · Valley
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a valley within Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska which is filled with ash flow from the eruption of Novarupta on June 6–8, 1912. Following the eruption, thousands of fumaroles vented steam from the ash. Robert F. Griggs, who explored the volcano's aftermath for the National Geographic Society in 1916, gave the valley its name, saying that "the whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands—literally, tens of thousands—of smokes curling up from its fissured floor."

Prior to the eruption, the area now called the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was an unremarkable and unnamed portion of the Ukak River valley. Although never permanently inhabited by humans, it served as a pass for the Alutiiq people, as well as animals such as grizzly bears.
The 1912 eruption was the largest eruption by volume in the 20th century, erupting a magma volume of about 13 cubic kilometers (3.1 cu mi). As many as 14 major earthquakes between









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6 to 7, and over 100 earthquakes greater than









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5, resulted from the collapse of the caldera at Mount Katmai and movement within the magmatic plumbing system.

The ash-filled valley covers a 40-square-mile (100 km2) area. The ash can be up to 700 feet (210 m) deep. In places deep canyons have been cut by the River Lethe, allowing observers to see the ash flow strata. Since the ash has cooled, most of the fumaroles are now extinct and despite its name the valley is no longer filled with 'smoke' (i.e. steam). Vegetation still does not grow in the valley. The signs of volcanic activity are still visible on nearby hills.

Katmai's most recent eruption was in 1927, but there have been non-eruptive events as recent as 2003. The Alaska Volcano Observatory still monitors Katmai's activity as part of the Katmai Cluster, where there are 5 active stratovolcanos within 15 kilometers (9 mi) of Katmai.

Visitors to the valley most commonly arrive via bus along the 20-mile (32 km) road from Brooks Camp, which is the only road in Katmai Park. The valley is a source of creative exploration by photographers and naturalists.
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Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes reviews

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  • We did the bus ride and hike in Valley of Ten thousand Smokes and it was both interesting and informative. The ranger provided a lot of information and we stopped for views along the way  more »
  • I did the Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes tour while visiting Brooks Camp. The bus ride was great and the bus driver Carter was really funny and made the ride a lot of fun. The Fall colors were in full....  more »
Google
  • The place is not easily accessible which makes this landscape totally preserved even more grandiose and beautiful. The thick layer of ash left by the eruption of the Novarupta in 1912 extends to the loss of sight.
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  • A hike has shown us in this valley that nature is cruel. A sand storm forced us to turn back.
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