Williamsport, Iliamna Bay

Williamsport is a boat landing on Iliamna Bay in Cook Inlet and the end of the Pile Bay-Williamsport Road, also known as the Iliamna Portage Road. The 15.5 miles (25 km) road was originally constructed in the 1930s and allows small commercial fishing boats and other materials to travel across the Chigmit Mountains that separate Cook Inlet on the east and Iliamna Lake to the west. Iliamna Lake drains into Bristol Bay via 50 miles (80 km) of the Kvichak River. The braided channels of the Kvichak are navigable by small boats and are home to the largest Red salmon run in the world. Commercial harvests are worth hundreds of millions (USD) annually. The portage road greatly reduces the journey between Cook Inlet and the Bristol Bay fisheries, the only other option being the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) route around the Alaska Peninsula. The one-lane, unpaved road is owned and maintained by the state, but was originally built by the Williams family who still operate the only freight hauling business. The road is open only during the summer and about four boats can be hauled per day, depending on the tide heights in Cook Inlet. Learn more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of Williamsport and Iliamna Bay.