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The Valley of 10,000 Smokes

The Valley of 10,000 Smokes is the site of the world's largest volcanic eruption this century. Beginning on June 6, 1912, the volcanic eruption at Novarupta lasted 3 days. The ash cloud that resulted reached an altitude of 20 miles high and spread for thousands of miles, with sulfurous ash falling as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington.

For two days, in the nearby town of Kodiak, one could not see a lantern held at arm's length. Roofs in Kodiak collapsed under the weight of more than a foot of ash and buildings were razed by ash avalanches rushing down nearby hill slopes.

After the eruption, 40 square miles of Alaskan wilderness lay buried in ash up to 700 feet deep. Four years after the cataclysmic eruption, Robert Griggs, an explorer for the National Geographic Society, wrote "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." Thus, the are was named the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

As time passes, these ash deposits are being carved by the wild Ukak River and its many tributaries, forming dramatic steep-walled gorges. Deep beneath the mountains that rise around the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, there is still molten rock present, confirmed by the smoldering gases of volcanic sulfur one can still see emanating from distant mountain tops on a clear day.

The Valley of 10,000 Smokes is a sight-seeing day which can be added to any King Salmon Guides package.