When government geologist Walter Curran Mendenhall crossed this valley in 1898—scouting for an overland route from Resurrection Bay to the Tanana River on one of Alaska’s most historic exploration treks—he climbed the moraines above Tangle Lakes and gazed through the rain at a stunning U-shaped cut in the mountain mass ahead. He named it “Landmark Gap . . . a prominent feature all day.”
Scoured out by glaciers during the Ice Age, the gap forms an easy passage through the Amphitheater Mountains, irresistible to migrating caribou and Native hunting parties over millennia. The Nelchina caribou herd still migrates through this area. The mountain peaks visible through the gap are McGinnis Peak (11,400feet) and Mount Moffit (13,020feet).