Spring has arrived, the snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and everyone is excited for some summer fun to begin. As an avid camper and backpacker, I can’t wait for the camping season to start!  And the best thing about living in Alaska is that you can get outdoors year-round, and camping in Anchorage in the spring is a hidden gem.  If you’re impatiently waiting for the camping season to start, I have some good news: you don’t need to wait until summer to go camping. There are some great cabins and yurts in the Anchorage area that are a perfect place to kick off the camping season while waiting for the snow to melt.  Here are some of my favorites:

Eagle River Nature Center:  The nature center doesn’t just have great hiking trails - it also has three yurts and one cabin available for year-round camping trips!  Each one is located less than two miles from the parking lot so they’re perfect for people who are new to backpacking.  Each costs $100 per night ($85 for members) and can be rented up to a year in advance, so you can already start booking for next spring!  More information about each yurt and cabin including the occupancy limits for each can be found here.

Bird Creek Campground:  This campground has two public-use cabins available for rent year-round.  The Beluga Cabin holds up to eight people, while the larger Boretide Cabin holds up to 12 people. They are both easily accessible during breakup season and are located right along the Bird to Gird trail for some late-season Nordic skiing or early-season biking with epic views of Turnagain Arm.  These cabins are $100 per night and can be reserved at reserveamerica.com.

Eklutna Lake:  There are multiple options for cabins out at Eklutna Lake.  This is one of my favorite places to stay year-round because the views are incredible and there are so many options for outdoor activities like hiking up the Twin Peaks Trail, skiing on the lakeside trail, or just playing in the snow on the shore of the lake. Two cabins that are easy to access:  Dolly Varden and Rainbow Trout.  Depending on snow conditions, you can park at the Dolly Varden cabin (making this the easiest cabin to access) and from there, it’s a short walk to the Rainbow Trout cabin.  The Yuditna Cabin is located 3 miles down the lakeside trail and is perfect for more remote adventures, and the Serenity Falls Hut is located 12 miles down the lakeside trail and is an epic backcountry adventure.  There’s also the Kokanee Cabin, but it can only be accessed by crossing the lake so it’s better for winter or summer adventures. Each cabin costs $100-$125 and can be reserved at reserveamerica.com.

Eagle River Campground:  The newest cabin in Chugach State Park is the Delgga Cabin, located in the Eagle River Campground.  This cabin can hold up to four guests.  The best part about this cabin is that you can drive right up to it (depending on snow conditions), which makes it easily accessible and perfect for families. It’s close to town but perfect for a quick getaway and a chance to spend some time in nature.  This cabin can be reserved at reserveamerica.com.  

Each of these cabins is rustic with wooden bunks to sleep on, a table and chairs/benches, a wood stove for heat, and an outhouse. None of these cabins have electricity or running water.  So if you’re looking for a camping experience this is a perfect option!  The cabins are great options for families, people who are new to camping, and experienced campers as well.  You’ll need to bring all of your gear out there with you including sleeping bags and pads, camping cookware, food, water, lights, wood for the stove, and any other gear you might need for a few nights off the grid.  Some of these cabins do have cell service, but why not put your phone on airplane mode and unplug for a weekend?  I hope you get the chance to try one of these cabins this spring and enjoy some early-season camping!