Considered the largest U.S. state by area, Alaska comprises more total area than Texas, California, and Montana, which are the next three largest states in the country. Alaska is also the seventh largest subnational division in the world and the most sparsely populated state in the United States.
Alaska is known to host many beautiful campgrounds with fishing, hiking, paddling, and wildlife watching that can best be experienced in the summer. If you consider camping in Alaska in the summer, here are the 5 best places to visit for a memorable experience.
1) Denali National Park
Denali National Park is home to wildlife including moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears! These animals are popularly known as “The Big 5.” Denali, 20,310 feet high, the park’s centerpiece, is the tallest mountain in North America.
There is only one road through the park, and you can only access it by tour bus (or bike/hike). Various tour buses travel the road, with some narrating as they go. They make stops along the way and allow visitors to get off and explore or stop at one of the campgrounds along the 92-mile route. Be aware that this summer (2022), the road is closed at mile 42 due to an ongoing landslide, so there is no access past that point.
There are 6 campgrounds to choose including one at the park entrance with lots of amenities for RVs and tent campers. Definitely one of the best places to camp in Alaska this summer!
|Location||Denali National Park, 237 miles north of Anchorage|
|Nearest City||Healy, AK|
|Riley Creek Campground (at the park entrance)||142 sites, 20 tent only, 20 walk/boat in, open year-round, reservations advised in the summer, near the Visitor Center, seasonal flush toilets and hot showers|
|Savage River (at mile 13)||Thirty-two sites, summer only, flush toilets, can see Denali from a short walk!|
|Sanctuary River (at mile 23)||7 sites, summer only, heavily wooded, tent only, vault toilets|
|Teklanika River Campground (at mile 29)||53 sites, tent or RV (they do allow you to drive your RV or vehicle to the site with a 3-night minimum stay), summer only, vault toilets|
|Igloo Creek Campground (at mile 34)||7 sites, summer only, tent only, vault toilets|
|Wonder Lake Campground (at mile 85)||Closed in 2022 due to the landslides|
|Amenities||Varies by campground|
|Pet Friendly||Allowed in the campground but not on the buses|
|What makes it one of the best||Camping with the largest mountain in North America as your backdrop!|
2) Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge: Buskin River State Recreation Site
Kodiak Island is an island off the southern shore of Alaska, just across the Katmai National Park and Preserve. Kodiak Island is known for its amazing Kodiak bears. You can schedule a guided tour or obtain a bear-viewing permit to try to locate them on your own. The several bear-viewing areas available are the safest way to watch, including the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Can you imagine coming across 20 massive Kodiak bears fishing for salmon? It is a site you might be lucky enough to see. This site is also home to a large population of Stellar Sea Lions. You might be able to see some on Near Island, at the St. Herman Boat Harbor.
To get to Kodiak Island, you must take a Ferry, plane, or boat taxi. Once on the island, you can camp at Buskin River State Recreation Site. They have 50 sites for RV or Tent and are located right on the Buskin River. A great place to stay while you explore the island!
|Location||Eastern shore of Kodiak Island|
|RV/Tent Sites||15 sites, RV and Tent, 40′ RV limit,|
|Picnic Tables at each site||Yes|
|Fire Pit at each site||Yes|
|Amenities||Restrooms, water, picnic shelters|
|Reservations||First come, first serve with an overflow area|
|What makes it one of the best||Camping right on Kodiak Island (but safe from the bears!).|
3) Glacier Bay National Park: Bartlett Cove Campground
Visiting Glacier Bay National Park is an amazing opportunity. You will need to fly in or arrive by boat. You can camp right along the shore at the Barlett Cove Campground. They maintain a walk-in campground “in a scenic rainforest setting along the shore,” according to the NPS website. Don’t be confused by the term rainforest, as it also applies to cool, wet forests along the shoreline.
The average temperature in the summer is between 50°F and 60°F. The campsites are a ¼-mile hike from the Visitor Information Center and have composting toilets, bear-proof storage caches, and a small warming shelter. There is also a fire pit on the beach. What a nice way to spend the evening sharing s’mores overlooking the Pacific Ocean!
|Location||About 95 miles NW of Juneau|
|Nearest City||Juneau, AK|
|Tent Sites||Yes, tent only|
|Picnic Tables at each site||No|
|Fire Pit at each site||Fire pit on the beach|
|Amenities||Composting toilets, wheelbarrows for transporting gear|
|Pet Friendly||No, only allowed in a limited area|
|Reservations||First come, first serve|
|What makes it one of the best||Camping on the beautiful shores of Alaska!|
4) Anchorage: Eagle River Campground
If you want to have a mix of city and country life, staying at the Eagle River Campground, just outside of Anchorage, will give you access to both. You can spend the day exploring the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, stop by Kincaid Park to maybe see an enormous moose, or enjoy fresh salmon at any one of the many downtown seafood restaurants. Back at the campground, you can enjoy frying up some salmon you bought in town or relaxing by the fire. Another one of the best places to camp in Alaska this summer!
|Location||Only 12 miles north of Anchorage|
|Nearest City||Eagle River|
|RV/Tent Sites||57 sites, +10 Overflow sites|
|Picnic Tables at each site||Yes|
|Fire Pit at each site||Yes|
|Amenities||Restrooms, water picnic shelter|
|Reservations||First come, first serve, 3-night limit|
|What makes it one of the best||Only 12 miles to downtown Anchorage!|
5) Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (Bear Sighting Trips, Salmon Fishing in the Lake)
One of the lesser-known national parks is Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. This park is perfect for seeing bears (from a safe distance) and salmon fishing! Maybe you could catch a record-breaking salmon like Chuck Leach, who caught a 12-pound salmon in 1974 on the Kenai River.
Lake Clark is one of the largest lakes in Alaska, so there is plenty of room to explore! There is primitive camping at Hope Creek, located on Upper Twin Lake just west of the Proenneke Historic Site. There are also 2 public use cabins. The cabins are on the shore and accessible by boat or water taxi. A beautiful place to enjoy the lake in the summer!
|Location||130 miles SW of Anchorage|
|Nearest City||Port Alsworth|
|Tent sites||Yes, tent-only, backcountry sites|
|Cabins||2 Public Use Cabins|
|Picnic Tables at each site||Not all of the sites|
|Fire Pit at each site||Not all of the sites|
|Amenities||None, primitive backcountry camping only|
|Pet Friendly||No, pets are allowed, but they advised to leave them at home or in a kennel|
|Reservations||First come, first serve, cabins require reservations|
|What makes it one of the best||Some of the best fishing in Alaska!|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © aarbois/Shutterstock.com
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