Chugach State Park
It's only a short drive from downtown Anchorage to the city's backyard wilderness. Several of the park's most popular trailheads can be reached from city streets, while other trails and park facilities are accessible from either the Glenn or Seward Highway. Inside the park, travel is generally by foot in summer and by skis in winter, though limited areas are open to bikes, ATVs, horses, motorboats, and snow machines. Check park regulations for details.
Summers tend to be cool, with mostly overcast skies and frequent rain, often as drizzle. Summer daytime temperatures are most commonly in the 50s and 60s, though balmy 80-degree days occasionally occur, as do summer snowstorms at higher elevations.
When to Go
The prime visitor season is June through September, but local residents frequent the park year-round. The best time to see wildflowers is from late June through early August (more than fifty species are found here, including geraniums, paintbrush, monkshood, bluebells, forget-me-nots, and fireweed); birding is best in May and June; berry picking in August and September.
Facilities and Services
Park headquarters is in the Potter Section House, MP 115 of the Seward Highway, while a ranger station is staffed at Eklutna Lake. There are three public campgrounds; all are road accessible and have picnic tables, fire pits, water, and latrines. A nonprofit concessionaire-run nature center is located at the end of Eagle River Road; center staff lead nature programs throughout the year and they also manage a nearby public-use cabin and yurt. A list of area campgrounds outside the park, and companies that offer guide services and park tours, is available from headquarters.
Spring through fall: Hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, wildlife and wildflower viewing, photography, picnicking, horseback riding, mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing, glacier travel, berry picking, hunting, windsurfing, paragliding, boating.
Winter: Ice climbing, snowmobiling, nordic and telemark skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering. Check with park managers for restrictions on certain activities, for example hunting and snowmobiling.
Some thirty trails, totaling more than 150 miles, crisscross the park; most have parking lots, information displays, and latrines at their trailheads. Among the most popular Chugach hikes are Flattop Mountain, Bird Ridge, Williwaw Lakes, Turnagain Arm Trail, and the Crow Pass Crossing.
For More Information
Contact Chugach State Park Headquarters, Milepost 115 Seward Highway, HC 52, Box 8999, Indian, AK 99540, phone: (907) 345-5014.
Other helpful resources include A Naturalist's Guide to Chugach State Park by Jenny Zimmerman; 55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska by Helen Nienhueser and John Wolfe, Jr.; and Ridgelines, a newspaper-style guide published by the park.
For more information on the Eagle River Nature Center, call (907) 694-2108.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication