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Alaska State Parks & Alaska National Parks

Flanked by one of the largest Alaska State Parks and surrounded by Alaska National Parks, Anchorage is the perfect starting point for outdoor adventures. See natural treasures, find amazing wildlife, enjoy exciting activities or just enjoy a peaceful natural scene.

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McHugh Creek thunders down out of the mountains underneath the Turnagain Arm trail at the McHugh Creek rest stop.
McHugh Creek thunders down out of the mountains underneath the Turnagain Arm trail at the McHugh Creek rest stop. ©Roy Neese

Alaska parks are unlike anything else. They hold the most accessible outdoor adventure opportunities, the tallest mountains on the continent, iconic bear viewing locations, amazing whale-watching waters and bird nesting grounds. An amazing 500,000 acres of wilderness awaits in Chugach State Park to the east of the city. Alaska is home to more national park land than any other state, and five national parks are easily accessible as day trips from Anchorage.

Alaska State Parks

State parks in Alaska dwarf even national parks in other parts of the United States. One of the best examples is a stone’s throw from the city. Chugach State Park is the third-largest state park in the nation and a stunning backyard for people who live or stay in the city.

The park encompasses the Chugach Mountains that provide Anchorage’s gorgeous backdrop. Many popular trailheads are within 20 or 30 minutes of downtown. Amazing views don’t require a big effort. Several short, accessible trails lead to several of the best known spots. The park has dozens of routes suitable for day hikes, mountain biking or weeklong backpacking. Lake kayaking, rafting, ATV trips are among the other amazing ways to explore the park. Campgrounds, public-use cabins and wide-open spaces are primed for camping.

Chugach State Park borders the 5.6-million-acre Chugach National Forest. It is the nation's second largest national forest. Roughly the size of as the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined, the wooded playground is favorite of outdoor enthusiasts. Popular spots like Portage Glacier and the Alaska Railroad’s Spencer Glacier whistle stop are some of the best entry points for trips into the forest.

Alaska National Parks

Alaska national parks are show-stopping. The glacier-filled Kenai Fjords National Park is a two and a half hour drive south. Denali National Park holds North America’s tallest peak, Denali, and amazing wildlife. Day trips to Alaska national parks including Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park are also unforgettable, complete with bear viewing, hiking and fishing. Mighty Wrangell-St. Elias has glaciers larger than Rhode Island, and a gold history runs deep.

Getting Started

The Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage is the perfect start for an exploration of Alaska parks. The office has informative displays, educational films, helpful rangers and loads of information. Whether planning an excursion or just looking for an entertaining stop on a walk in downtown, it’s a must.