Becharof Lake, Alaska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Alaska - Southwest -

Becharof Lake, the second* largest lake in Alaska, is located on the Alaskan Peninsula. Stretching an incredible 290,000 acres, the lake measures 35 miles long and 15 miles wide and reaches depths of as much as 600 feet. Deep in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Becharof Lake offers its visitors an unforgettable setting for hunting, fishing, hiking, and observing wildlife.

Located in the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, Becharof Lake provides a scenic and unforgettable backdrop for such pastimes as fishing, hunting, hiking and enjoying Alaska’s plentiful wildlife. The wildlife refuge offers a variety of breathtaking scenery, from craggy cliffs along the coast, sandy beaches, gently slopes, stark tundra and volcanic Mount Peulik on Becharof Lake’s southern shoreline. The 1.2 million-acre wilderness can only be reached by boat , plane or a rugged hike along an unmarked trail. Most visitors take a commercial flight from Anchorage to nearby King Salmon Airport before heading into the wilderness.

Popular activities at the refuge include hunting, especially for bear, caribou, and moose, fishing, hiking, and camping. The refuge’s stunning vistas and varied wildlife also make it an ideal place for wilderness observation and photography. Approximately 500,000 acres of the refuge have been designated by Congress as the Becharof Wilderness, insuring that this land will be protected for many more generations of nature lovers to enjoy.

Becharof Lake is best known for its salmon population. The lake and its tributaries spawn an estimated 6 million sockeye salmon per year, making it the second largest producer of the fish in the world. In addition, the lake and surrounding streams are home to arctic char, grayling, trout, dolly varden, northern pike, and burbot. Fishing is available year-round, and most visiting anglers take advantage of local commercial fishing guides to find the best fishing spots.

The lake’s large population of salmon attract brown bear, which can be found at Becharof in some of the largest numbers in the state. The bear have been known to inhabit dens on islands in the lake, a behavior that has not been observed anywhere else in the world. Large numbers of caribou also reside in the land surrounding Becharof Lake, as well as moose, wolverine, and fox. A trip to the nearby coastline affords more nature watching opportunities. Eagles and falcons often nest in the steep cliffs towering above the shoreline. Seals, sea lions, and sea otters can be spotted frolicking in the frigid waters and basking on the sandy beaches, and whales can be found just offshore.

Becharof Lake can be enjoyed from the air by visitors not inclined to weeks of strenuous hiking: ‘Flightseeing’ trips can be arranged over the Wildlife Refuge so the visitor can see as much as possible in a short period of time. Mount Peulik’s 4846-foot cone is reflected in the lake’s surface and gaseous clouds can often be seen rising from the cone. Volcanic activity has been observed near here as recently as 1977 when the Ukinrek Maars craters formed. Thw gassy rocks produce a steady stream of carbon dioxide: the gases heat the water at the base, causing hot springs often reach temperatures as high as 120 degrees.

For those seeking adventure in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, Becharof Lake offers the trip of a lifetime. Whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, or just observing the beauty of your surroundings, Becharof won’t disappoint. The Becharof Wilderness beckons, promising its visitors a glimpse of natural wonders that they will never forget.

*Acreage figures are from the Alaskan Dept of Hydrology. Shoreline lengths are not given as most of Alaska’s large lakes have ill-defined shorelines: water collecting in the lakes does not pass thru the permafrost level and thus must either dissipate via evaporation or river drainage. Most shorelines are seasonal wetlands and their size depends on the amount of snow-melt and precipitation. Many lakes have no outlet so water simply continues to collect there, causing the lake to grow larger.

Things to do at Becharof Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge

Fish species found at Becharof Lake

  • Burbot
  • Char
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Grayling
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout

Becharof Lake Photo Gallery

    Becharof Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 289,705 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 13 feet

    Maximum Depth: 600 feet

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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