Destination Series: Camping in Alaska Part II

By Nick Oetken
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A hiker on the summit of Gentoo Peak, in Alaska's Chugach State Park - Author: Paxson Woelber - CC BY-SA 4.0
A hiker on the summit of Gentoo Peak, in Alaska's Chugach State Park - Author: Paxson Woelber - CC BY-SA 4.0
 
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Alaskan residents highly value the availability and quality of outdoor recreation opportunities, and you can be a part of this too. Here are some amazing places to explore.

 

Decision Point State Marine Park

Two moose in a lake in Alaska
Two moose in a lake in Alaska

Decision Point State Marine Park can be found on the south side of Canal Passage, approximately eight miles east of Whittier. The park is generally used by kayakers and small boat users as there is no protected anchorage.

The hut for public use is located on the west side of Squirrel Cove. It has all the necessary amenities needed to have a fantastic time during a camping weekend.

 

Chena River State Recreation Area

Chena River Bull Moose
Chena River Bull Moose

Located 26 miles east of Fairbanks, the Chena River State Recreation Area encompasses more than a quarter of a million acres of hills and the interior river of Alaska.

It is is a suitable camping spot for any time of the year. Take advantage of the atmosphere and escape to the snowy horizon, or maybe ride a four-wheel-drive vehicle on a forest trail.

The variety of activities attracts more than 150,000 people each year to explore the 397 miles of pure fun.

The recreation area offers several natural attractions and top-notch recreational opportunities. Features such as the Granite Tors, Angel Rocks, Chena Dome, the Chena River fishery, navigation, trails, and the cabins for public use offer destination points for residents and travelers alike.

The park follows the Chena River, a class I-II river that flows clearly and is ideal for fishing, kayaking, or canoeing. Chena Hot Springs Road is parallel to the river, providing boaters and fishers with many entry and exit points to choose from.

Wildlife is abundant. Black and grizzly bears also inhabit the area, although they are rarely seen. Brown bears have been seen by hikers in mountainous regions and along the river.

Chena River State Recreation Area – Author: Beeblebrox – CC BY-SA 3.0
Chena River State Recreation Area – Author: Beeblebrox – CC BY-SA 3.0

Camps in the area can accommodate all types of outdoor enthusiasts – from campers to those with luxury recreational vehicles. At the end of Chena Hot Springs Road, mile 56, you will find Chena Hot Springs Resort.

Chilkat State Park

Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, an ice climber rests in a hammock set up in the walls of an ice cave
Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, an ice climber rests in a hammock set up in the walls of an ice cave

Chilkat State Park is a 9,837-acre playground with trails, campgrounds, and an information center. The contact/information center offers incredible views of the Chilkat Inlet, Rainbow, and Davidson glaciers.

The center also has wildlife viewing areas so you can detect incoming wildlife such as seals, porpoises, and whales. Visitors have even been able to spy bears and mountain goats on the other side of the entrance.

Chugach State Park

Chugach Mountains campsite – Author: Beeblebrox – CC BY-SA 4.0
Chugach Mountains campsite – Author: Beeblebrox – CC BY-SA 4.0

Chugach State Park can be found in Southcentral Alaska, primarily within the Municipality of Anchorage. The park, which is one of the four largest state parks in the US, has about 495,000 acres of land.

The west boundary of the park is located in the western foothills of the Chugach Range and is only seven miles east of downtown Anchorage.

The park is more defined by Upper and Lower Lake George and Chugach National Forest in the east, Turnagain Arm in the south, and Knik Arm in the north. Although vast portions of the central Alaskan region are sparsely populated, almost half of the state’s population resides in or near Anchorage.

Chugach State Park occupies much of the west end of the Chugach Range. Within the park, steep peaks rise from sea level to over 8,000 feet, with local relief often varying more than 5,000 feet.

The landscape within the park is a visible result of the action of the glaciers – Author: Diego Delso – CC BY-SA 4.0
The landscape within the park is a visible result of the action of the glaciers – Author: Diego Delso – CC BY-SA 4.0

At the highest elevations of the park there are ice fields and glaciers, many of which are very large. Lake Eklutna, almost seven miles long and one mile wide, is the largest lake within the park boundary.

The main activities that take place at Chugach State Park are camping, picnicking, picking berries, photographing, observing wildlife, backpacking, hiking in summer and winter, studying nature, sightseeing, rock and ice climbing, hang gliding, boating, ATV, fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

The park also serves the purpose of providing areas for viewing local wildlife. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including large mammals such as moose, Dall sheep, mountain goats, black and brown bears; and smaller mammals such as beaver, lynx, and wolves.

Breeding salmon can also be observed, along with numerous birds – of which visitors to the park have the potential to meet.

Negative encounters with wildlife are rare, and most are the result of people getting too close to a wild animal. Also, the Eagle River Nature Center and its associated trail system is a major attraction for school groups and the residents of the municipality.

The facility is open all year and provides information for visitors, outdoor and interpretive programs, viewing platforms, and facilities for public use at night. The Crow Pass Trail (a segment of the Iditarod National Historic Trail) is accessed through the Nature Center. Chugach State Park has more than 280 miles of trails.

 
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