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Cook Inlet's west side tells another story

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

If going remote is the goal, try the west side of Cook Inlet. A 30-minute flight or a short boat ride leads to a wilderness area nestled at the base of two active volcanoes -- Iliamna and Redoubt. Bear, fish, fowl and a backdrop of spectacular scenery await those ready to escape.

Five species of salmon run up 11 relatively untouched major rivers and their tributaries. Salmon, char and halibut await sport fishers. Bird enthusiasts can feast their eyes on the area's feathered inhabitants, including puffins, bald eagles and swans.

Guides are available to coordinate hunting and fishing opportunities and flightseeing is available through local charter flights.

The 4-million-acre Lake Clark National Park and Lake Clark Preserve are where the Alaskan and Aleutian mountain ranges meet.

Overnight accommodations in the area range from tent camping to full-service lodges. For more information on flightseeing tours, fishing charters, lodges or guided hunting, call the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau at 283-1991 or visit their site on the World Wide Web at www.visitkenai.com.

Other west side points of interest include the Athabas-kan village of Tyonek, setnet camps, the Drift River Oil Terminal, the Chisik Island bird rookery and the Trading Bay State Game Refuge.

The Redoubt Bay State Critical Habitat Area, 268-square-miles, is an important waterfowl nesting area that sits in the migration path of sandhill cranes and frequently is visited by bald eagles, ravens and gulls.

At McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, bears come first, but that doesn't mean people are forbidden. In 1973, the state began a permit system to regulate the number of visitors wanting to view this world-famous congregation of brown bear.

For more information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at (907) 267-2100.

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