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Alaska State Parks & Alaska National Parks

"State Park" may sound mundane, but don't be fooled; Alaska parks are real wilderness - home to Dall sheep, mountain goats, brown bears and several packs of wolves residing on the edge of Anchorage. Alaska national parks have more land than the rest of the parks system combined, and Alaska state parks include the first and third-largest state parks in the nation.

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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 National Parks

Alaska national parks are show-stopping. Alaska is home to more national park land than any other state, and five of them are easily accessible as a day trip from Anchorage. The glacier-filled Kenai Fjords National Park is a mere two hours south. Short on time? Take flight to Denali National Park for a peek at North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley. Day trips to Alaska National Parks including Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park are also unforgettable, complete with bear viewinghiking and fishing. Mighty Wrangell-St. Elias has glaciers larger than Rhode Island, and a gold history that runs deep.

Denali National Park & Preserve

Surrounding Mount McKinley, the tallest peak on the continent at 20,320 feet, is the 6 million acre Denali National Park & Preserve. Denali National Park offers great wildlife viewing and colorful wilderness expanses. Shuttle buses take wildlife lovers and campers deep into the park. Outside of the park there is plenty to do including hiking, rafting, mountain biking and flightseeing. Reservations are recommended.

See Denali in a Day! 

Flightseeing tours from Anchorage are perfect for travelers with a long "to see and do" list.

Wide Open Spaces

Within Anchorage's boundaries is Chugach State Park, the third-largest state park in the nation and a stunning backdrop to the Anchorage landscape. Encompassing the park, the 5.6-million-acre Chugach National Forest 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.

While in Chugach State Park, truly immerse in Alaska's most accessible wilderness. The nearly half a million acres promise plenty of room for adventure. Park boundaries stretch 60 miles, from Eklutna on the north side of Anchorage all the way to Girdwood on the south, with mountains bearing such lively names such as Temptation Peak, Mount Magnificent and Mount Rumble. The park has nearly 30 trails suitable for short hikes, weeklong backpacking and mountain biking.

Front-edge trailheads including Glen Alps, Prospect Heights, McHugh Creek, Eklutna and the Eagle River Nature Center link hikers to peaks towering as high as 8,000 feet. Three campgrounds, public-use cabins and wide-open spaces are available for camping.

Learn more about the Chugach State Park at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.