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Cook Inlet / Alaska Range

Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles (290 km) from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage in south-central Alaska. Cook Inlet branches into the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm at its northern end, almost surrounding Anchorage. The inlet is named for Captain James Cook, the famous English mariner, who in 1778 explored what is now known as Cook Inlet. At that time the area was occupied by Taniana Indians who harvested seasonal runs of salmon and other wild foods. Remains of Taniana house pits are evidence of the Indians' earlier presence. In recent years the beach area has been used for commercial fishing with beach set-nets.

Cook Inlet tides are some of the most extreme in the world. Although for complex reasons, two of the primary factors are the shape and dimensions of the inlet. The funnel shape and the length of the inlet are key. For this sized inlet the natural resonance time period is close to the 12 and a half hour time period between tidal cycles. This creates a seiche (pronounced saysh) which is a term derived from old Swiss French dialect meaning to sway or slosh. It is this sloshing effect, which can be visualized on a smaller scale as the sloshing when carrying a bowl of liquid, which most influences our tides to make them among the biggest in the world.

The Alaska Range is a relatively narrow, 650-km-long (400 mi) mountain range in the southcentral region of the U.S. state of Alaska, from Lake Clark at its southwest end to the White River in Canada's Yukon Territory in the southeast. The highest mountain in North America, Denali, (or Mount McKinley), is in the Alaska Range.

The range forms a generally east-west arc with its northernmost part in the center, and from there trending southwest towards the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians, and trending southeast into the Pacific Coast Ranges. The mountains act as a high barrier to the flow of moist air from the Gulf of Alaska northwards, and thus has some of the harshest weather in the world. The heavy snowfall also contributes to a number of large glaciers, including the Canwell, Castner, Black Rapids, Susitna, Yanert, Muldrow, Eldridge, Ruth, Tokositna, and Kahiltna Glaciers. Four major rivers cross the Range, including the Delta River, and Nenana River in the center of the range and the Nabesna and Chisana Rivers to the east.