Camping the 50 States Series: Alaska

April 20, 2010
Mud Lake, Alaska

Mud Lake, Alaska
Photo by: Jeremy Sauskojus (Stock Exchange)

Hello, hello, hello! In today’s AllCampgrounds blog, we cross another state off our list by zooming out to the frozen tundra of Alaska!

Now, unless you’re an Eskimo, your goal will probably be to camp in what passes for summer in this icy region, but rest assured there’s phenomenal natural beauty for you to enjoy when you do.

There’s also some of the greatest trout fishing anywhere in the world.

The Camping Scene: Basic Info, Common Precautions

Alaska has over 100 park units and 2,500 camp grounds to choose from. Overnight camping fees of $10 to $20 a night are fairly standard in these parks, but so are outdoor toilets, well water, fire pits, and fire wood. Virtually all campsites operated by public entities are within a short distance of lakes or streams. Alaskan camp grounds are just as well-maintained as those in other states, but do have some unique issues to be aware of thanks to the harsh climate.

Naturally, the most serious issue facing campers in Alaska is the cold. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly, and you need to be prepared. Brush up on your winter camping skills. Though the Alaskan summer isn’t as fierce in some places, it can still hold surprises. Dress in layers, but be aware that overdressing can slow your reaction time and cause you to sweat, actually having the opposite effect you intended. Stay hydrated and keep the body, including the head and hands, well covered.

Backcountry campers also have to be aware of bears and avalanches. Remember that in Alaska, the wild frontier is always a lot closer than it may seem. Only experienced frontierspeople should really “go primitive” around here!

Tent Camping, RV Camping and More in Alaska

Want to go camping quick? It’s not hard to find camp grounds even a short distance from major population centers like Anchorage and Fairbanks. This is only a quick overview: we’ll come back for more in a future post. Alaska covers a huge territory; it’s sparsely populated and full of chances for exploration.

Eklutna Lake in Chugach State Park: Offering 50 tent camping sites in the Eklutna Lake Valley, beneath the majestic peaks of the Chugach Mountains, this site offers up to 15 consecutive days of camping. In addition to all the great water sports you can enjoy, be prepared to spot moose on the lakefront. Mountain goats and other, less hospitable critters such as bears and wolves inhabit the backcountry.

Tok River Recreation Site: Sad to say, you can’t find RV space just anywhere in Alaska, but Tok River offers ten sites for motorhomes. Great riverboating, a public campfire area, telephone access, and a “camping bathroom” round out the facilities.

Kenai Fjords National Park: For camping right on the Gulf of Alaska, try Kenai Fjords. This national park offers fully-featured boat tours and kayaking. With the help of a ranger, you can enjoy a walking tour that brings you up close and personal with Exit Glacier. During the winter, the closed Exit Glacier Road provides a wonderful space for winter sports like skiing and sledding. Be aware of the black bears!

You just can’t get away with writing about Alaska without mentioning the fishing scene. During prime fishing season, thousands of hardcore enthusiasts descend on Alaska every year to do battle with record salmon, halibut, and trout. A lot of the top fishing takes place in the Kenai Peninsula region, above, but there are plenty of spots to choose from.

Klutina Salmon Charters and Campground: This place offers full-service charter fishing for king and red salmon on Klutina River along with camping for tents and RVs with full electrical hookups. Well water, picnic tables, fire pits, and dump stations are available, along with rental cabins.

Alaska is so enormous, it would take a month of posts to crack into it region-by-region. Hopefully, though, this is enough to spark the imagination of our pioneering AllCampgrounds readers. Next time, a change of weather and another terrific camping destination. Until then, my friends, time to make camp!

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