Alaskans love adventure and people come to Alaska because they seek adventure. Alaska personifies adventure. Our State Parks are the ultimate place to find that from trails, wilderness and camping opportunities to a variety of State Park cabins located throughout the state.
Alaska State Parks has 87 cabins in 159 State Park units and boasts 2 of the 4 largest State Parks in the nation. Wood Tikchik State Park in southwest Alaska has 1.6 million acres and Chugach State Park has 495,000 acres. Other regions include Kenai Peninsula/Prince William Sound-known for its fishing, Mat-su/Copper River Basin-home to the best views of the great Denali, the Northern Region-where you will find the best Aurora sightings, Southeast and Kodiak-both boast fantastic sea life and rich in history.
All regions have cabins that provide endless opportunities to find that true Alaska experience for visitors and locals. Cabins vary in size, amenities and access, but all are unique in atmosphere and none have running water. In Alaska, we refer to this as a “dry” cabin. It adds to the Alaska experience but also important for planning purposes.
Jessica Lemaire works at the Public Information Center for the Department of Natural Resources and not only fields questions about State Park cabins from the public, she is a frequent visitor as well. Her favorite are the Lynx Lake cabins on Nancy Lakes in the Matsu Region. “Portaging there in a canoe on a hot summer day was amazing. We were able to fish, swim, and lay out on the dock. The cabin is just far enough away that you feel like you are on a mini vacation, but easy to access from Anchorage,” she says.
Sometimes just getting to your destination can be part of the fun. Another favorite for Jessica is Byers Lake #2 cabin in the winter. “You can ski to it and then use the sled you brought all your gear to the cabin in to go sledding from the front door of the cabin onto the lake!”
Summer Louthan works in History and Archaeology for DNR, Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (Alaska State Parks) and also spends many weekends at State Park cabins. She loves the Sea Star cabin on Tutka Bay in Kachemak Bay State Park. “It’s a great cabin, secluded, with access across Tutka Bay to the Grace Ridge trail. Great kayaking and wildlife viewing (so many sea stars!). I have never not had a good time and great weather staying in Tutka Bay.” She also loves the Kokanee cabin on Eklutka lake in the Chugach State Park. “Best outhouse by far”, she says.
Booking a cabin that is popular takes some planning and effort as all cabins open for booking on Reserve America seven months out, at 12:01 Alaska Standard time. Some hidden gems may be available later in the booking window especially during the week and are well worth it. So if you don’t find that the cabin you want in the timeframe you are looking, think bigger and broader. Go somewhere you haven’t gone, consider a hike or ski in, or for some cabins a water taxi may be just the ticket. All details regarding amenities and access are available on the Alaska State Parks website, so do your research before you book!
Ethan Tyler is the Director of Alaska State Parks and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. He is a fan of the Callisto and Derby Cove cabins out of Seward, Alaska. “I love their versatility- you can go big and get a water taxi into the cabins with all the fixins- or you can go the more simple route and simply hike in, but it requires a little more planning than that because of the tidal trail. The access to historical sites in the area, and the network and infrastructure of trails is unbeatable- you can easily spend a weekend in the high alpine, or you can lounge away on the beaches in the area, watching for whales and combing the beaches,” he says.
Do your research now and book that cabin soon for a true Alaska adventure!