The 5 Best Places to Camp in Alaska this Summer

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: August 3, 2022
Image Credit aarbois/Shutterstock.com
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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

Mount Denali Alaska
Home to moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears, Denali National Park is one of the best places to camp in Alaska.

iStock.com/SteveAllenPhoto

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!

LocationDenali National Park, 237 miles north of Anchorage
Nearest CityHealy, 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
AmenitiesVaries by campground
Pet FriendlyAllowed in the campground but not on the buses
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestCamping with the largest mountain in North America as your backdrop!

2) Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge: Buskin River State Recreation Site

Known for its amazing Kodiak bears, you can obtain a bear-viewing permit on Kodiak Island to view the bears.

Hillebrand, Steve – Public Domain by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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!

LocationEastern shore of Kodiak Island
Nearest CityKodiak
RV/Tent Sites15 sites, RV and Tent, 40′ RV limit,
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, water, picnic shelters
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsFirst come, first serve with an overflow area
What makes it one of the bestCamping right on Kodiak Island (but safe from the bears!).

3) Glacier Bay National Park: Bartlett Cove Campground

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park is one of the best places to camp in Alaska this summer.

iStock.com/AntonyMoran

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!

LocationAbout 95 miles NW of Juneau
Nearest CityJuneau, AK
Tent SitesYes, tent only
Picnic Tables at each siteNo
Fire Pit at each siteFire pit on the beach
AmenitiesComposting toilets, wheelbarrows for transporting gear
Pet FriendlyNo, only allowed in a limited area
ReservationsFirst come, first serve
What makes it one of the bestCamping on the beautiful shores of Alaska!

4) Anchorage: Eagle River Campground

Keep your eye out for a moose at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, AK.

Gremio / Creative Commons

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!

LocationOnly 12 miles north of Anchorage
Nearest CityEagle River
RV/Tent Sites57 sites, +10 Overflow sites
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, water picnic shelter
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsFirst come, first serve, 3-night limit
What makes it one of the bestOnly 12 miles to downtown Anchorage!

5) Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (Bear Sighting Trips, Salmon Fishing in the Lake)

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Lake Clark has some of the best fishing in the state!

iStock.com/Alexei Perelygin

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!

Location130 miles SW of Anchorage
Nearest CityPort Alsworth
Tent sitesYes, tent-only, backcountry sites
Cabins2 Public Use Cabins
Picnic Tables at each siteNot all of the sites
Fire Pit at each siteNot all of the sites
AmenitiesNone, primitive backcountry camping only
Pet FriendlyNo, pets are allowed, but they advised to leave them at home or in a kennel
ReservationsFirst come, first serve, cabins require reservations
What makes it one of the bestSome of the best fishing in Alaska!

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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