Camping in Alaska has got to be one of the most popular activities in the state. It’s also one of the few activities that both visitors and locals enjoy equally. I think there is an allure to camping in the great wilderness of Alaska that draws people to it. It is possible to go camping in Alaska State Parks, National Parks in private campgrounds and even in the wilderness!
Camping Reservations in Alaska
If you are planning to camp during the summer, we recommend making camping reservations as early as possible. Many private campgrounds fill up quickly during the summer. Most state campgrounds do not accept reservations. However, some state campgrounds operated by private concessionaires may accept reservations. This also means that annual camping passes to state parks are not honored at these privately run state campgrounds. It is a good idea to calling ahead to find out if reservations are possible.
Camping in Alaska State Parks
Alaska State Parks encompass around three million acres, making it by far the largest state park system in the United States. There are five state parks: Chugach, Chilkat, Kachemak Bay, Wood-Tikchick, Afognak Island and Shuyak Island. There are also dozens of State Recreation Areas, Marine Parks and Historical Sites throughout Alaska that are managed by the Alaska State Parks. Click here for more information on the parks in every region of Alaska.
Alaska state parks come in many variations. From rustic dry camping sites next to wilderness lakes and streams, to camping sites that are serviced with electric and water and close to Alaska's towns and cities. Keep in mind that that the closer a campground is to good fishing, the busier it will be, especially during the salmon runs. The state of Alaska has an excellent website for information on fees and regulations. http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks
Camping and Bear Safety in Alaska
Camping in the Alaska backcountry means you must remain Bear aware. Bears are very common in Alaska, and anyone who is camping or hiking needs to keep alert. Keep in mind that most bears tend to be wary of humans and often do their best to avoid them. The most important way to stay safe while in camping in Alaska is to use proper food storage and trash disposal. Here are some best practices from Alaska’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/safety/bears.htm)
- At trailheads look for posted signs about recent bear activity.
- Make plenty of noise when traveling. Hiking in groups is safer than hiking alone.
- Dogs can be trouble in bear country. It is best to keep your dog at home or on a leash.
- Never leave food out when not in use. Store food in your vehicle or a bear-proof locker.
- Use bear-proof garbage cans or dumpster for your garbage.
- Keep your camp clean and odor free.
- Don’t camp near a trail, salmon stream, garbage, or any backcountry metal fire pit (others may have left food odors).
- Camp in a tent in an open quiet area where you can see and hear nearby wildlife and where they can see and hear you.
- Do not cook near your camp, cook smelly foods, sleep in clothes with food odors, or bring any food or lotions into your tent. Store food, pots, lotions, clothes with food odors, and trash away from camp. If there are no trees, hang food off of a rock face or a bridge, or store it out of a bear's sight off the trail and downwind of camp.
- Pack out all trash. Do not bury garbage, bears have very keen noses and can find buried garbage. Use a tent. Do not sleep in the open.
More tips for staying safe can be found on the National Parks Service Website.
Campgrounds in Alaska
Listed below is a collection of some of the best campgrounds in Alaska listed by region. Some campgrounds are ideal for tent campers, while others are more suited for RV camping in Alaska. RV travel is an extremely popular way to explore the state, either by driving through Canada or by renting an RV in state and touring around.
Campgrounds in Alaska are plentiful and varied. Some of the commercial campgrounds offer site as large as 100 feet long with 50 amp hookups, laundromats, stores, and everything you would find in the lower 48.
Camping In Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage has two campgrounds that are conveniently located near the many attractions of this amazing city. Ship Creek RV Park is located off the beaten path but still very close to many of Anchorage’s main attractions. Creekwood RV Park, is just off the Seward Highway so is very close to downtown. Eagle River campground is a state campground that does take reservations. It is located on the outskirts of Anchorage off the Glenn Highway.
Camping in Seward
In Seward, the most common place to camp is in the Waterfront City Campground. The Seward City Campground has 500 spaces with the best ocean views in the State. 99 sites have electric hookups. There is also water and toilets available. Campers are required to self-register. There is a public dump station across the street at B Street that has easy access for any size RV. The dump station has a small fee.
Camping in Denali National Park
Camping in Denali National Park can mean different things to different types of visitors. There are many who are looking for an amazing backcountry camping experience which can definitely be had in Denali. There are others who will arrive in RV’s and want the full services of an RV park, while taking day trips into the national park. Whichever type of traveller you are, you’ll find what you are looking for.
There are six campgrounds run by the National Parks Service in Denali National Park. They range from large campgrounds for RV Parks and tent campers to small tenting only campgrounds deep in the park.
Riley Creek Campground is right at the entrance to Denali National Park and is open to RVs and tents.
Savage River Campground at mile 13 of the Park Road. After mile 15 of the Park Road you will need to take the Park Shuttles to go further into the park. Open to both RVs and tents.
Teklanika River Campground has 53 sites open to both RVs and tents, but RV campers must stay a minimum of 3 nights. Located at mile 29 of the Park Road. Normally private vehicles are not allowed past mile 15, but RVs are allowed past this point to go directly to the campground. Tent campers will need to take a “camper bus” to reach the campground.
Sanctuary River Campground at mile 22 has seven tent only campsites. This campground is only accessible via the park shuttle buses.
Igloo Creek Campground is also only available to tent campers. There are seven sites available at mile 35 of the Park Road.
Wonder Lake Campground is located at mile 85 of the Park Road and is the closest campground to Mount Denali. There are 28 tent only sites.
There are also a number of privately run RV Parks in the Denali area. South of the park entrance is Denali Grizzly Bear Resort at mile 231. This is a full-service resort and is very close to Denali National Park. Denali Rainbow RV Park is situated in the center of town which makes it very convenient for shopping and arranging tours of the area that include rafting, ATV rentals, and backcountry adventures. Finally, eight miles north of the park entrance at mile 245 is Denali RV Park and Motel, which has some of the best prices available in the area.
Camping in Fairbanks Alaska
Fairbanks is often called the golden heart city, because of the friendliness of its residents and it’s gold rush past. When we are in Fairbanks we stay at Rivers Edge RV Park. This is an excellent full-service facility that is close to everything.
Camping in the Mat-Su Valley
The Matsu Valley offers many choices for campers and one of my favorites is the Matanuska River campground in Palmer Alaska. Quiet and convenient this is a great spot to stay for both RV and tent campers.
If you're headed for Talkeetna be sure to make a reservation at the Talkeetna Camper Park, as this is a the only RV campgrounds in town.
Camping in the Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai Peninsula is one of the most popular areas in Alaska, not only for visitors, but also for Alaska's residents. The main attraction is world-class fishing. This can be done in the streams and rivers, or on the ocean that borders the peninsula. Homer Alaska, at the end of the Kenai Peninsula is famous for its Halibut fishing. Needless to say, the camping is also fantastic in this region of Alaska.
Several of my favorite campgrounds can be found here, including Porcupine campground near Hope. This is a wonderful State campground with lots of nearby activities including hiking and biking trails and exhilarating whitewater raft trips with Chugach Adventure Guides.
Seward Alaska, at the end of the Seward Highway has several campgrounds. Most visitors stay at the City Campground which is on the shores of the ocean and has amazing views over Resurrection Bay. Seward is a popular cruise destination and you will likely have views of large ships in port.
Between Soldotna and Kenai you will find Diamond M ranch and resort. A full-service facility that makes an excellent base camp while visiting the Kenai. It is close to Soldotna, the City of Kenai and less than 2 hours from Homer.
Heading further south you will find excellent camping near Ninilchik and Deep Creek.
Camping in Homer Alaska is excellent. Ocean shores Resort and a Motel, RV Park and restaurant located near downtown Homer. It has full hookups and spectacular views of Kachemak Bay. The Heritage RV Park is found on the Homer spit close to the popular “Fishing Hole” which is a large inlet on the Homer Spit that attracts visitors and locals.
Camping in Tok Alaska
Tok Alaska, is called Main Street Alaska, because of its many hotel rooms and campgrounds. The Sourdough Campground just west of Tok is a favorite of many visitors and Alaskans alike. This is a full-service campground and even has some RV parts on hand. The restaurant is excellent and is famous for its sourdough pancakes. They also have nightly entertainment that features a pancake toss that can win you a free breakfast in the morning.