Alaska Lakes: Lake Minchumina

Alaska Marine Highway

Alaska's State Flower is the "Forget-Me-Not. Forget me not flowers are very fragrant in the evening and night time, though there is little or no scent in the daytime. They can be annual or perennial plants. Their seeds are found in small, tulip shaped pods along the stem to the flower.

Alaska has about 3,197 officially named natural lakes, out of over 3,000,000 unnamed natural lakes. 86,051 square miles of Alaska are covered by water.  The largest, Lake Iliamna, encompasses over 1,000 square miles. Many of Alaska's lakes are only reachable by air or boat. Lakes that are easily accessible are used for recreation such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

Lake Minchumina is situated near the geographical center of Alaska, 65 miles north-northwest of Mt. McKinley. If we were to cut out a map of Alaska from a piece of paper and balance the map on the point of a pencil, we would have found the center point of the physical structure of the state. 'Minchumina' comes from the Athabascan words Menchu Mene' or Menhchu Mene'. To the Athabascan Indians, Minchumina and Minkhotana meant the 'lake people.' The people who lived in Minchumina were known as the Minkhotanas. The lake may be accessed by boat in the summer. There is no road connection.

The lake, nine miles long and roughly six miles wide, has been a reliable source of whitefish, an important food resource for native residents, especially during lean times, and to later trappers, fur farmers and roadhouse operators.

Lake Minchumina has been central as a portage between the navigable waterways of the Yukon-Tanana and Kuskokwim Rivers. Its location was important as a midway point for sled trail mail transportation in the 1920s and 1930s, and for airplane transportation between Fairbanks and McGrath.

Historically a Native area, this is the location of an airfield, a small village, and a lodge. A post office was established in 1930. The school was closed in the 1999-2000 year due to insufficient students.  Many residents run dog sled teams. Few Natives live at Lake Minchumina year-round. A subsistence lifestyle is practiced.

This central location at the headwaters of the Muddy River and the availability of subsistence resources made Lake Minchumina an attractive location for native Athabascans, prospectors and trappers, as well as current residents. From prehistory to the early 1900s, Athabascans hunted big game on the lands that would later become Denali National Park and Preserve. As the native population declined due to warring, disease, and a move to the rivers, prospectors and trappers utilized the same areas. They hunted in the foothills and carved out trapping areas in the lowlands.

With the enactment of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980, federally managed lands were extended virtually to the Lake Minchumina doorstep on the east and south. ANILCA allows local rural subsistence users to continue the practice of traditional hunting and gathering activities on those lands added to Denali National Park and preserve.

South of Lake Minchumina lies a combination of foothills and lowlands that provide big game resources including caribou, moose, sheep and bear, and in the lowlands, furbearers, including mink, marten, beaver, red fox, lynx, otter, wolf and wolverine, and to the northeast in the Muddy River flats region, muskrats.


Lake Minchumina is in the exact center of the state of Alaska

Lake Minchumina in Alaska

Alaska Rivers:

Alaska has more than 12,000 rivers including the nine major rivers listed below:

Learn more about Alaskan rivers

Colville River Copper River Gulkana River
Kuskokwim River Noatak River Porcupine River
Susitna River Tanana River Yukon River.