What to do in Chugach State Park

*This information provided by The Alaska Department of Natural Resources*

Those of us lucky enough to live here feel the influence of Chugach State Park almost daily. The mountainous backdrop to Anchorage reminds us that, although we live in an urban setting, we really reside in the middle of a vast wilderness. The Chugach foothills are a beacon for changing weather and resident wildlife have been known to wander into town.

And those of you who are visiting are able to discover Chugach State Park and take home memories of high alpine wildflowers, browsing moose, soaring eagles, roaring glacier-fed rivers, the howl of a wolf, unrivaled mountainous vistas, clearwater streams dancing through a mature spruce forest, and maybe even a glimpse of a grizzly bear.

As a resident or visitor, Chugach State Park is awaiting your discovery. Whether you prefer frontcountry trails, backcountry bushwhacking, one of our three campgrounds at Eklutna Lake, Eagle River, or Bird Creek, a visit to the Eagle River Nature Center, or just to gaze upon the mountain view from town, we at Alaska State Parks are dedicated to helping you safely enjoy your visit and most importantly, to ensure you have fun.

Viewpoints
There are several viewpoints along the Seward Highway, overlooking Turnagain Arm. One of the most visited is Beluga Point, Mile 110.5, named for the Beluga whales that frequent the Arm. Another popular viewpoint along the Seward Highway is Windy Corner at Mile 106. It has no facilities accept parking, but Dall sheep just up the hill are worth the stop.

On the Hillside, at Glen Alps Trailhead, is the Anchorage Overlook Viewpoint. A short quarter mile walk takes you to a spectacular view of the Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and the Alaska Range.

Eagle River Nature Center
The Eagle River Nature Center is just 45 minutes north of Anchorage at the end of Eagle River Road. Nestled among 7,000 foot peaks, towering waterfalls and forests of birch and white spruce trees in Upper Eagle River Valley, the Center offers a hosts of nature-oriented activities: daily guided nature walks, weekend interpretive programs, guided backcountry wilderness hikes, wildlife viewing, interpretive education exhibits, self-guided hiking trails.

Also available is a nature gift shop, rest rooms, snacks, and beverages. There is one public use cabin and two public use yurts available for backcountry overnight stays. Rentals are made at the Nature Center by calling (907) 694-2108. There is a parking fee of $5 per day, or with the purchase of a $35 annual membership comes a parking pass, good for one year from date of purchase. The Alaska State Park day use parking pass is not valid at the Nature Center. The Center is operated by a non-profit organization in cooperation with Alaska State Parks.

Recreation
There are three campgrounds in Chugach State Park, offering experiences ranging from fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, wildlife viewing, and spectacular sunsets. Two are north of Anchorage – one at Eklutna Lake, and one on Eagle River – and the third is south of Anchorage at Bird Creek.

All have wooded sites with fire rings and picnic tables, water and latrines. Campground hosts offer assistance and answer questions about the area. Firewood is often available near the host's site for a small fee. Campsites for organized groups are available by reservation at Eklutna Lake Group Use Site.

A. Eklutna Lake CampgroundDescription: 50 sites with picnic tables, fire pits, water, latrines, and ranger station. Overflow camping area of 15 sites. Campground Host.Recreation: Trails for hiking, ATV use, bicycle and horses. Boating and fishing.Fee: $10/night.Stay Limit: 15 nights.Location: 45 minutes north of Anchorage.To Find It: From Glenn Highway, take Eklutna Exit at Mile 26. Turn toward mountains and follow park signs 10 miles on gravel road to Eklutna Lake and campground.

B. Eagle River CampgroundDescription: 57 sites with picnic tables, fire pits, water, latrines, flush toilets and dump station. Overflow camping area of 10 sites. Campground Host.Recreation: Fishing, whitewater rafting. Short hiking trails.Fee: $15/night.Stay Limit: 4 nights.Location: 12 miles north of Anchorage, 1 mile south of town of Eagle River.To Find It: From Glenn Highway, take Hiland Road Exit (Mile 12). Follow park signs onto frontage road to river and campground.Special Note: One-half of the campsites are available by reservation - call (907) 694-7982. Reservations can be made year round and up to one year in advance. However, the campground itself is usually only open from May through September, depending on the weather. This campground is operated by Lifetime Adventures under a commercial permit and is the only campground in the state park system to take reservations.

C. Bird Creek CampgroundDescription: 28 sites with picnic tables, fire pits, water, latrines. Campground Host. Overflow camping area.Recreation: Fishing, walking, sunsets and whale watching.Fee: $10/night.Stay Limit: 7 nights.Location: Southeast of Anchorage about 20 miles (Mile 101 Seward Highway).To find it: On Seward Hwy., just east of Bird Creek Bridge, at mile 101.

D. Group Use SitesThere is one group use site at Eklutna Lake for either day or overnight use. Fee is variable and reservations required. For more information, call 345-5014. There is also a group use site available at Upper Huffman .

Day Use AreasThere are day use sites next to Eklutna Lake and Eagle River Campgrounds described above. There is also the McHugh Creek Picnic Site along Turnagain Arm at Mile 112 of the Seward Highway, south of Anchorage. All three have a parking fee of $5 per day. An annual day use pass is available for $40.

CabinsThere is one public use rental cabin at Eklutna Lake. The Eagle River Nature Center has a cabin and a yurt for rent. Cabins and yurt in both areas have a fee and reservations are required.

Sanitary Dump StationAn RV dump station is available at the Eagle River Campground. The fee for use is $5. Persons using the campground are entitled to one free use of the dump station during their visit. See the campground host for assistance.

Also available is a nature gift shop, rest rooms, snacks, and beverages. There is one public use cabin and two public use yurts available for backcountry overnight stays. Rentals are made at the Nature Center by calling (907) 694-2108. There is a parking fee of $5 per day, or with the purchase of a $35 annual membership comes a parking pass, good for one year from date of purchase. The Alaska State Park day use parking pass is not valid at the Nature Center. The Center is operated by a non-profit organization in cooperation with Alaska State Parks.

Location
Beyond the foothills at Anchorage's edge

Climate
The climate in Alaska varies with terrain and region. The south-central region of the state is most temperate because it is protected from cold northern winds by the Alaska Range. The large bodies of water that lies closely to this area create a stabilizing factor for the air temperature. Southeast Alaska is wet. An average of 80 inches of rain comes to this region directly from the Gulf of Alaska.

In contrast to the southeastern region, the interior receives very little precipitation. The winters are long in this region with spring, summer and fall taking place from May through September. The western coast of Alaska experiences long, cold winters and short, chilly summers. This area is very far north and at the mercy of huge water bodies that don't warm. Southwestern Alaska experiences foggy, wet summers with high temperatures reaching 60 degrees F. Winters are severe on this long peninsula of land with storms rising from the surrounding waters frequently. The average rainfall for the region is 75 inches/year.
  • Chugach State Park Travel Q&A

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