Alaska is an iconic travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Many travelers choose camping in Alaska over hotel lodging so they can get up close and personal with nature. And who can blame them? It’s Alaska!
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Camping in Alaska
Alaska is a camper’s paradise. With more than 156 state parks to choose from, you’ll have no trouble at all finding the perfect place to set up camp and take in the beautiful scenery. And it truly is beautiful – from mountains to glaciers, shorelines to forests – you’ll never run out of sites to see and outdoor activities to enjoy near your campground.
Alaska State Parks
Alaska State Park Pass: You will need to purchase an Annual Pass to visit the state parks in Alaska. Parking Passes are $60 per calendar year, plus $150 if you also want a Boat Launch Pass. Both passes can be purchased online here.
Note: There is no annual camping pass. Instead, you will need to pay the nightly site rates.
State Park Campgrounds: If you plan on camping in Alaska, you’ll be happy to know that most of the state parks have onsite campgrounds. Some campgrounds are more primitive and may require you to hike-in, while others are easily accessible in any vehicle and have full hookups and amenities. Additionally, fees for the sites generally run between $15 and $35 per site per night, making them very affordable.
1. Denali State Park
Location & Park Size: Denali State Park is located in southern Alaska between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It borders Denali National Park to the west and can be accessed via George Parks Highway at mile 135. Denali State Park is 325,240 acres of wilderness.
Why You’ll Love It: Because it is situated between two mountain ranges, the Alaska Range and Talkeetna Range, Denali State Park has a varied landscape. From cold alpine tundras to lowland rivers, the terrain lends itself to campers with a penchant for exploring. Park-goers can enjoy hiking, fishing, berry picking and kayaking in the summer, or cross country skiing in the winter. And, of course, no visit to Denali State Park would be complete without taking in the picturesque views of Denali, the tallest peak in North America.
Campgrounds in Park: With 6 camping areas and 160 sites, Denali State Park has plenty of camping options, including walk-in tent camping and RV-specific sites. Camping is available at K’esugi Ken Campground (42 campsites), Denali View North (20), Denali View South (9), Lower Troublesome Creek Trailhead (10), Byers Lake Campground (73), and Byers Lake Lakeshore Campground (6). Most of the sites in the park are first-come, first-served, but a few sites at the K’esugi Ken Campground can be reserved through Reserve America. Prices range from $15-$35 per night.
All Denali State Park campgrounds have toilets and picnic tables. Campfires are allowed, and firewood is available for purchase from the Campground Host at Byers Lake and K’esugi Ken Campgrounds. Most RV sites can accommodate RVs up to 75 feet in length, while a very limited number of sites can accommodate RVs up to 100 feet. Your best bet for full RV hookups is to stay at either Byers Lake Campground or K’esugi Ken Campground. Otherwise, plan to camp off-grid at the other sites. Byers Lake also has a dump station.
Can’t find an open RV site? The K’esugi Ken Campground has overflow camping at a discounted fee for RVs up to 60ft, however, there are no hookups in the overflow lot.
2. Chugach State Park
Location & Park Size: Chugach State Park is 495,204 acres and lies mostly in the city of Anchorage in southcentral Alaska. However, a small portion of the park does carry over into Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Visitors can access the park via Seward Highway.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re going camping in Alaska, you don’t want to miss Chugach State Park. Named for the indigenous people of the upper Cook Inlet region, this nature-lovers paradise is the third-largest state park in the United States. It is bordered by both mountains and coastline and is known for the beautiful lakes and glaciers throughout the park. Besides camping, visitors can be entertained by backpacking, canoeing, fishing, ATVing, birdwatching and so much more!
Campgrounds in Park: Chugach has three main campgrounds, Bird Creek (28 campsites), Eagle River (57) and Eklutna Lake (50), as well as three overflow camping areas, Bird Creek Overflow (20), Eagle River Overflow (10) and Eklutna Lake Overflow (15). Both tent and RV campers are welcome at all campgrounds. At Bird Creek and Bird Creek Overflow, the size limit for RVs is 35 feet. Conversely, there are no RV size limits at the other campgrounds.
Most of the campsites in Chugach State Park are first-come, first-served, but half of the sites at Eagle River can be reserved through Reserve America. The price is $20 per site for all campgrounds in the park.
Finally, campers will be glad to know that the campgrounds have public toilets and water, plus each site has a fire ring and picnic table. Unfortunately, there are no hookups for RVs, but the Eagle River campground does have a dump station.
3. Moon Lake State Recreation Site
Location & Park Size: Moon Lake State Recreation Site is located in Tanacross, Alaska near mile 1332 of the Alaska Highway. This small, but not-to-be-missed park measures just 22 acres.
Why You’ll Love It: For those who revel in water recreation in addition to camping in Alaska, Moon Lake is a perfect choice. Water skiers with small boats can take advantage of the boat launch on site, while casual summer campers can enjoy swimming or lazing on the sandy beach.
Campground in Park: Moon Lake State Recreation Site has 15 first-come, first-served campsites priced at $20 each. Also, there is no limit on RV size. However, RVers should plan for off-grid camping as there are no hookups. Toilets and picnic areas are also available onsite.
4. Chilkat State Park
Location & Park Size: Chilkat State Park is located on a peninsula 7 miles south of Haines, Alaska. This 9,837-acre park is situated between the Chilkat and Chilkoot Inlets.
Why You’ll Love It: Hikers will love the trails at Chilkat State Park. Seduction Pint Trail and Battery Point Trail both offer an easy jaunt with ample opportunities to view the park’s wildlife. By contrast, the Mount Riley Trail is more difficult and steep but has stunning views of the area. Additionally, visitors can use the spotting scopes at the information center to whale watch, or launch boats into the inlet to fish for king salmon.
Campground in Park: There are 35 traditional campsites at Chilkat State Park and 4 walk-in campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Like other Alaska state parks, the price for camping is reasonable at $20 per site per night. The size limit on RVs is 35 feet.
Surrounded by forests and equipped with fire rings and picnic tables, these campsites will feel like a cozy home. Plus, if you decide to stay for a while, you’re allowed to camp for up to 15 days! RVers should be prepared to dry camp, though, because there are no hookups at the campground.
5. Lake Louise State Recreation Area
Location & Park Size: Lake Louise State Recreation Area is located near Glennallen, Alaska on the aptly named Lake Louise Road. This park is on the small side at 511 acres. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm.
Why You’ll Love It: What’s so charming about this park? Three words: Northern Lights viewing! Yes, Alaska travelers love visiting this park to see the Northern Lights and to indulge in a plethora of outdoor activities. From hiking to biking, skiing to skating, there’s an activity for every interest at Lake Louise. Avid fishing enthusiasts will also enjoy year-round access to lake trout, whitefish, burbot and arctic grayling.
Campground in Park: Lake Louise State Recreation Area offers 67 campsites at a rate of $20 per night. And, according to the park’s website, “there is always space available for camping.” If you’re tired of jockeying for position at other campgrounds, this park is a great option when camping in Alaska. In addition, RVers will be pleased to know there are no size limits.
This pet-friendly campground has toilets and picnic areas to make your stay more comfortable. And for cold nights or simply for ambiance, fires are allowed. If you’re an RVer, plan to camp without electricity as Lake Louise does not have electric hookups. On the other hand, it does have water hookups – just no sewer or dump stations.
6. Chena River State Recreation Area
Location & Park Size: This recreation area is just to the east of Fairbanks in central Alaska on the Chena River. The park has 254,080 acres, or 397 square miles, of woodlands and tundras.
Why You’ll Love It: This park stays busy with approximately 150,000 visitors each year – and for good reason! There’s so much to see and do here, including rock climbing at Granite Tors, kayaking the Chena River and fishing for arctic grayling. If you’re camping in Alaska in the winter months, you can dog sled, cross country ski or ride snowmobiles on the winter trails.
Pro Tip: Drive to the end of the road to visit Chena Hot Springs and the Ice Museum!
Campgrounds in Park: Chena River State Recreation Area has three campgrounds to choose from: Rosehip Campground (37 campsites), Granite Tors Trail Campground (24), and Red Squirrel Campground (5). All three campgrounds are open to tent and RV campers on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are no RV size limits.
Great for campers on a budget, the campsites are only $15 per night! The only downside is the campsites are rustic and have no hookups.
7. Captain Cook State Recreation Area
Location & Park Size: Captain Cook State Recreation Area is located on the coast of the Cook Inlet on the Kenai Peninsula. The park is about 25 miles north of the city of Kenai in Nikiski, Alaska, and is 3,466 acres.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re looking for undiscovered gems while camping in Alaska, Captain Cook State Recreation Area is the place for you! Known for its diverse wildlife sightings, this quiet park includes moose and Beluga whales. Fishing is also popular here. Captain Cook park-goers can reel in rainbow trout and silver salmon from the Swanson River or arctic char from Stormy Lake.
Campground in Park: Discovery Campground is Captain Cook State Recreation Area’s only campground. But it has 53 campsites and no RV size limits. Sites are an affordable $20 per night.
For RVs, the campground has water hookups, but not electric. Campers can enjoy a fire pit, picnic table and a bench for hanging out at their campsites. There are also public toilets, dumpsters for trash…and a lot of mosquitos at Discovery Campground! We recommend you bring insect repellent or try the ExOfficio BugsAway Clothing we took on our road trip to Alaska.
Planning Your Alaska Camping Trip
If your sights are set on an Alaskan adventure, make sure you check out one (or all!) of these 7 state parks. With so many great campgrounds and nearby activities, you’re sure to have a great time!
If you need help planning your Alaska trip, check out our Complete Guide for Planning Your RV Trip to Alaska. We share everything we learned from our 6-month Alaska adventure, including how we found resources and how much it costs.
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Monday 14th of December 2020
Hi, love your blog! Just wondering where the cover photo for this post was taken? Absolutely stunning! Thanks!
Mortons on the Move
Monday 14th of December 2020
That is one of the most stunning mountains we have ever seen! That is in the brooks range very near Gates of the Arctic National Park.