Alaskan state and national parks are full of incredible natural beauty. Most of them are the last remaining areas of pristine, untouched wilderness in the country. The land is quite remote from the rest of the country, and it continues to entice adventurers and explorers, daring them to face its challenges. The parks serve the purpose of protecting the incredible beauty of Alaska with its plants and animals as well as to showcase it to the world in all its glory. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Afognak Island State Park

Afognak Island State Park
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Afognak Island was established as one of the country’s first conservation areas in 1892. Afognak Island State Park today includes over 75,000 acres, which represent a large part of the east and north sides of the island. Most of the park is undeveloped and wild, and only the area south of Seal Bay was logged in the 1990s. The park has scenic, rugged topography that includes a forest of Sitka spruce, and it is also known as a salmon spawning habitat. The park is home to Kodiak brown bears, Roosevelt elk, Sitka black-tailed deer, and the endangered marbled murrelet. Visitors come to hunt, fish, hike, or enjoy the spectacular nature. There are two restored U.S. Forest Service cabins in the park available for public use, and they are located on the south shore of Pillar Lake and at Laura Lake.

Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska

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2.Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
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The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was created to protect the largest concentration of Bald Eagles in the world and their habitat. The preserve also protects natural salmon runs, allowing traditional uses as long as such uses do not damage preserve resources. The preserve includes 48,000 acres of the river bottoms of the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers. The boundaries of the preserve include only the habitat areas eagles use at some time during the year. The best area for viewing eagles is along the Haines Highway between miles 18 and 24 because spawned-out salmon and open waters attract the birds in fall and winter. The Chilkat Valley provides permanent home for almost 400 eagles. More than 80 eagle nests have been spotted in the preserve. During the Fall Congregations, more than 3,000 bald eagles have been spotted in the preserve.

Haines Ranger Station, P.O. Box 430, Haines, AK 99827, Phone: 907-766-2292

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3.Baranof Castle Hill State Historic Site

Baranof Castle Hill State Historic Site
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Castle Hill is a 60-foot tall scenic rock on the edge of Sitka Harbor with beautiful views of the city. The hill, now part of the state park and a National Historic Landmark, also serves as the location of the Tlingit and Russian forts. Tlingit natives, who originally lived in this area, built a strategic fortification on the hill, which Russians occupied between 1804-1867. The hill is also the location where Russian Alaska was handed over to the United States in 1867 and where in 1959 the United States flag was flown when Alaska became a state. There is a trail with interpretive panels that runs to the summit. There are also stairs for those who want a bit more exercise.

Sitka, AK 99835

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4.Big Delta State Historical Parks

Big Delta State Historical Parks
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Big Delta State Historic Park, located about eight miles from Delta Junction, is a 10-acre historical park on the Tanana River created to preserve Rika's Roadhouse and Landing. From 1909 to 1947 the area was an important crossroad for miners, travelers, and soldiers on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail. The main attraction is Rika's Roadhouse, which, with the adjacent outbuildings, has been preserved to tell the story about the time in history and surrounding community. The museum complex today includes the WAMCATS station, a sod-roofed cabin filled with pioneer artifacts, and a Swedish-style barn. Many artifacts, period furniture, and accessories have been donated by local residents. In season, there are guided tours through the complex.

Milepost 275 Richardson Highway, Delta Junction, AK

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5.Birch Lake State Recreation Site

Birch Lake State Recreation Site
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Birch Lake State Recreation Site is located about 60 miles from Fairbanks on the shores of Birch Lake on the Richardson Highway. The 48-acre state park has a boat launch, small campground, and swimming and picnic areas. Next to the park is the Air Force military recreation site. The lake is a popular fishing spot rich with Arctic char, Chinook salmon, Arctic grayling, coho salmon, and rainbow trout. In the winter, it becomes a fun and popular ice fishing spot with fishing huts available for rent. In the summer, the lake is covered in lily pads and surrounded by forested wetlands. There are five camping sites as well as tables, benches, and fireplaces for day use. The boat launch does not allow long term docking. The park has a drinking water well, public bathrooms, and a public use cabin.

Birch Lake Pull Off, Salcha, AK 99714, Phone: 907-269-8400

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6.Chilkat State Park

Chilkat State Park
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Chilkat State Park is a 9,837-acre park located south of Haines, Alaska near the southern end of Chilkat Peninsula. The park has a beach access, a boat ramp, hiking trails, and spectacular views of glacier-covered peaks. There are magnificent waterfalls, and a narrow bay is home to water birds, seals, and whales. The information centers offers fantastic views of Chilkat Inlet, Rainbow, and Davidson glaciers and has wildlife spotting scopes. There are three trails that run through the mixed forest of evergreens and deciduous trees on the Chilkat Inlet. The seven-mile long Seduction Pint Trail offers an easy hike from the campground, running between the woods and the beach. The boat launch offers easy access to the inlet and, in early June, the run of king salmon.

Haines, AK 99827, Phone: 800-458-3579

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7.Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park
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Chugach State Park, located just outside Anchorage, is the fourth-largest state park in the States. More than 200 coastal miles long, it stretches from Anchorage to Canada. Incredibly rich in wildlife, it includes nine unique ecosystems. The park is known for having easy access to all sorts of activities for adventurers and athletes. Visitors in the park have the opportunity to go through hemlock-spruce forests, alpine tundra, muskeg, coastal wetlands the riparian habitat of rivers and lakes, and even marine waters. The park is home to over 45 species of mammals – brown bears, moose, black bears, Dall sheep, one wolf pack, lynx, beavers, fox, river otters, and mountain goats. The Chugach has 16 trailheads and 110 trails covering almost 280 miles. The park is a popular destination for hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, camping, kayaking, glacier-viewing, gold-panning, horseback riding, ATV riding, berry picking, snowmobiling, and much more.

Mile 115 Seward Highway, Girdwood, Anchorage, AK 99587

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8.Denali State Park

Denali State Park
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The 324,240-acre Denali State Park is the fourth largest state park in Alaska. It borders Denali National Park at its southern end, located 147 miles from Anchorage, between the Talkeetna Mountains and the Alaska Range. The park does not have the developed infrastructure of Denali National Park, but it has a number of great campgrounds and offers fantastic hiking, plenty of wildlife, and some of the best views of Denali. The park’s environment ranges from heavily forested areas, streams, and river valleys to the alpine tundra. Denali State Park is home to brown and black bears, moose, marmots, muskrats, beavers, red foxes, and many others. The Susitna and Chulitna Rivers are home to Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout and five species of Pacific salmon. Denali State Park has excellent vantage points to view both Denali's north summit and south summit, which rises to 20,310 feet. Besides admiring Denali, visitors engage in hiking, fishing, rafting, camping, and wilderness exploration.

George Parks Highway, Trapper Creek, AK 99683

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9.Denali National Park

Denali National Park
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Denali National Park is vast with six million acres of wilderness crossed by one ribbon of road only. Travelers along the road can see the low-elevation taiga forest change to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, finally ending in North America's tallest mountain peak, 20,310-foot tall Denali. Boasting incredibly scenic views, Denali Park Road is 92 miles long and made mostly of dirt and gravel. In the summer, private vehicles are allowed to drive the first 15 miles of the road up to Savage River. Beyond Savage River visitors have to use the park’s narrated and non-narrated buses. Most of the park’s six million acres are undeveloped, with a number of trails that lead off the park road into the wilderness. There are six campgrounds but no lodge or hotel.

PO Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755, Phone: 907-683-9532

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10.Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park

Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park
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Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park on the eastern shore of Kodiak Island, Alaska includes 182 acres of land at the end of Miller Point. The park was established in 1969 to protect the historical World War II fortifications built in 1941 as well as the magnificent scenery with spruce forests, bluffs overlooking the ocean, and wildflower-covered meadows. The fortifications’ surviving parts include remnants of the building foundation, gun emplacements, and underground magazines. The fortification did not see any action and was abandoned after the war. The park has a campground best for tent camping, a picnic area, a group camping area, and a network of hiking trails.

Miller Point, Kodiak, AK 99615

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11.Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
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Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is part of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, a coastal route popular with cruise ships and other boats. Located just north of the town of Gustavus, the bay is surrounded by high peaks (Mount Fairweather is the highest peak in southeastern Alaska) and more than 50 glaciers, among them the massive Grand Pacific Glacier. Forest and riverside trails start at Bartlett Cove. There is plenty of wildlife such as humpback whales, puffins, brown and black bears, moose, whales, mountain goats, seals, eagles, and over 200 other species of birds The park is home to a huge variety of plant communities that range from barren land to lush, dense temperate rain forest. More than 400,000 tourists visit the park every year, mostly by cruise ships.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, AK

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12.Grindall Island State Marine Park

Grindall Island State Marine Park
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Grindall Island Marine Park is located in a remote part of Alaska only accessible by plane or boat. The Grindall Island is known for superb salmon and halibut fishing and has two lakes in the middle surrounded by marshlands. Between 1922 and the 1950s a homestead was established and operated as a fox farm. There is a trail that leads from the cabin on the homestead to the lake in the heart of the island. A mooring buoy in the north harbor is used by the visiting boats. Most visitors come to watch whales, hike through the island, and fish for king salmon.

Kasaan, Prince of Wales Island, AK 99919

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13.Harding Lake State Recreation Area

Harding Lake State Recreation Area
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Located about 45 miles south of Fairbanks, Harding Lake State Recreation Area was established in 1967 and is one of the oldest park facilities in the Alaska State Park system. The park has more than 90 campsites with five walk-in group campsites, numerous picnic sites, two picnic shelters and fields for baseball, volleyball, and horseshoes. There is a boat launch for canoes, boats, jet skis, and other watercraft. The boat launch and the center of the lake are connected via a canal. The lake is popular with anglers who are looking for arctic char, lake trout, and burbot. There is a network of hiking trails throughout the park.

Salcha, AK 99714

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14.Independence Mine State Park

Independence Mine State Park
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Independence Mine State Historic Park is located across Hatcher Pass from Palmer, Alaska at the site of an abandoned gold mine in the Talkeetna Mountains. The mining in the area started as early as 1897, when the first claims were reported near Fishook Creek. Eventually these early mining attempts formed the Wasilla Mining Company that operated the mines from 1934 to 1943 and again from 1948 to 1950. It was the second-largest Alaskan hard-rock gold mining operation. A large mining camp grew around the operation, consisting of sixteen wood frame houses connected to each other by covered wooden "tunnels." The company closed operations in 1950, leaving behind a great collection of well-preserved mining structures and equipment, which are now a part of a gold-mining museum. There is a self-guided tour through a mine camp.

23264 Gold Cord Rd, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-745-2827

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15.Kachemak Bay Wilderness State Park

Kachemak Bay Wilderness State Park
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Established in 1972, 400,000-acre Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park was Alaska’s first state park and the state’s only wilderness park. It borders the Kachemak Bay State Park’s southern boundary in the Kenai Mountains. It extends into the Gulf of Alaska and has 79 miles of scenic, rugged coastline, glaciers, mountains, and forests. The park is known for superb backcountry skiing, hunting, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and sightseeing. Kachemak Bay is a critical habitat for many species of marine animals. Visitors can expect to see seals, otters, porpoise, and whales. On land they can observe moose, mountain goats, black bear, coyotes, and wolves. Large numbers of bird species attract avid bird watchers who come to see eagles, gyrfalcons, and puffins. There are no facilities in the park. The park can be accessed by boat from Homer.

Homer, AK 99603, Phone: 907-262-5581

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16.Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords
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Kenai Fjords National Park is 669,984-acre park near Seward at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula. The park was established in 1980 to protect the area with almost 40 glaciers that flow from the Harding Icefield, the park’s crowning feature. Icy waters and dense forests around the area support rich wildlife. The area is home to Sugpiaq people who rely on these resources to support lifestyle closely connected to the sea. Most of the park is accessible only by water, the fjord ecosystem as well as glaciers. Numerous boat tours provide visitors opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy spectacular scenery. Half-day tours cruise the protected waters of Resurrection Bay. Full-day tours enable visitors to see some of the park’s tidewater glaciers. During the tours, park rangers provide fascinating information about the park. They also present programs at Fox Island.

Seward, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

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17.Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
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Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a huge four million acre protected area at the north end of the Alaska Peninsula. The park includes large number of streams and lakes, including Lake Clark, crucial to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. The park protects many ecosystems, including alpine tundra, rainforests on the coastline of Cook Inlet, glaciers, glacial lakes, rivers and two volcanoes – Mount Redoubt, which is active, and Mount Iliamna. The diversity of ecosystems in the park ensures great conditions for all major Alaskan animals including bears. The park can only be reached by boat or small aircraft, mostly floatplanes. Most popular activities for visitors in the park and preserve are hiking, kayaking, rafting, and camping. Port Alsworth on Lake Clark is the main settled area. Five other settlements in the park are mostly populated by Dena'ina natives.

Port Alsworth, AK 99653, Phone: 907-781-2117

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18.Liberty Falls State Recreation Site

Liberty Falls State Recreation Site
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Liberty Falls State Recreational Site is located in the Copper River Valley near Chitina. The site is located next to the beautiful cascading Liberty Falls and Creek just off the road. The Recreational Site is known as one of the most scenic camping spots on the Edgerton Highway. The campground offers a unique combination of privacy and easy road access with a magnificent location in a river canyon by the falls. The site is operated by Taral Enterprises by a private concession contract.

Liberty Falls State Recreation Site Rd, Chitina, AK 99566, Phone: 907-269-8400

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19.Pasagshak State Recreation Site

Pasagshak State Recreation Site
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Pasagshak River State Recreation Site is located a short drive from Kodiak and was created in 1980 to provide easy access to the lower part of Pasagshak River for camping, sport fishing, and picnicking. Pasagshak River is one of the most popular sport fishing streams on Kodiak Island. It provides outstanding angling for all five species of salmon. Besides seasonal salmon runs, Pasagshak Bay and area provide home to rich coastal and marine wildlife, including whales, seals, dolphins, brown bear, sea birds, waterfowl, shrimp, and crab. There is an undeveloped campground with three latrines and a hand-pump well for drinking water.

20 Pasagshak Rd, Kodiak, AK 99615, Phone: 907-486-6339

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20.Point Bridget State Park

Point Bridget State Park
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Point Bridget State Park is a 2,850-acre park located about forty miles from Juneau, overlooking Berners Bay and Lynn Canal. The park has a bit of everything, including cliffs, meadows, salmon spawning streams, rocky beaches, and the sea. In the winter, the open forest and meadows are excellent location for skiing and snowshoeing. There is plenty of wildlife, with porcupine and squirrels in the woods, and in the middle of Beaver House Meadow there is a large beaver dam. There are also black bear, sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, and many other animals. The park is a popular area for bird watching, beachcombing, wildlife observation, boating, and hiking. Anglers come to the Berners Bay beaches and in Cowee Creek for superb salmon fishing.

Juneau, AK 99801, Phone: 907-465-4563

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21.Shuyak Island State Park

Shuyak Island State Park
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Shuyak Island State Park is a 47,000-acre Alaska park on Shuyak Island in the Kodiak Archipelago. The park consists of a unique forest of Sitka spruce on the coast, beaches, coastline, and waterways. The park has four cabins for visitors and is only accessible by plain or by boat. The island is only 12 miles long and 11 miles wide, but it has more protected interior waterways than any other location in the Kodiak Archipelago. The area is home to a large diversity of seabirds. In the sea, there are otters, whales, sea lions, harbor seals, and Dall porpoises. The dense forests are home to Kodiak brown bear and Sitka black-tailed deer. The park offers a true feel of wilderness, with few amenities.

Kodiak Island, AK

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22.Summit Lake State Recreation Area

Summit Lake State Recreation Area
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Summit Lake State Recreation Site is a 360-acre park along Hatcher Pass Road near Independence Mine State Historic Park. The area includes beautiful Summit Lake and 3,886-feet-high Hatcher Pass Summit. Summit Lake is a cirque lake, carved by a long-gone alpine glacier. There is a trail that runs around the lake, through magnificent alpine wilderness, leading to a bluff with breathtaking view of the Susitna Valley, the Willow Creek Drainage, and the western arm of the Alaska Range. In the summer, the area attracts a large number of hikers and paragliders. Berry-picking is another popular activity, as well as nature photography. In the winter, Summit Lake is heaven for backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers.

Willow, AK 99654

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23.The Baird Glacier

The Baird Glacier
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Located about 20 miles from Petersburg, Alaska, the Baird Glacier is terminal moraine and a large glacial outwash plain in front of the ice. It supports a rich diversity of plants and animals. The outwash plain was created over time from sand deposits due to coastal uplift and floods. The moraine is a long mound of boulders, cobblestones, and sand glacier left behind where its terminus rested for many years. There are no facilities for visitors, and there are no cabins or shelters at the glacier. Spurt Cove and Cascade Creek Forestry Service cabins are available not far away in Thomas Bay. There are hiking trails in the area that include Falls Lake and Swan Lake trails. The Baird Glacier is accessible by boat from Petersburg.

123 Scow Bay Loop Road, Petersburg, AK 99833-0309, Phone: 907-772-3841

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24.Totem Bight

Totem Bight
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Totem Bight State Historical Park is located north of Ketchikan on the site of the former traditional Native campground called Mud Village. This 33-acre-state park contains a fascinating collection of 14 native totem poles and a copy of a traditional chief's house, a wood-frame structure with a low oval entrance. The entrance leads to a square room with a fire pit, decorated with intricately carved "house posts" with stylized raven symbols that decorate the main facade. The carvings on the replica house were created by Charles Brown, a Saxman Native. The entrance of the park has a beautifully landscaped garden filled with indigenous plants. Two totem poles are placed at the path entrance: an Eagle Grave Marker and a Thunderbird Whale mortuary pole. The park also has a lovely beach and waterfront, which offer great views of the park and its totems. The main park’s path runs through a lush rainforest area full of native trees, berry bushes, devils club, shrubs, and ferns.

9883 N Tongass Hwy, Ketchikan, AK 99901

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25.Wood-Tikchik State Park

Wood-Tikchik State Park
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Wood-Tikchik State Park is the biggest and the most remote state park in the country, located north of Dillingham in southwest Alaska. The 1.6 million-acre park was established to protect the area's fish and wildlife, to support native ecosystems, and to secure the continued use of the area for subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering, as well as for recreation. The area is mostly left undeveloped and wild, and there are very few park facilities. The park includes 12 lakes, 60 miles of rivers, more than 5000-foot tall mountains, and extensive lowlands. Wood-Tikchik State Park has a camp and picnic areas on magnificent lakeshore beaches, vast scenic hillside with a network of hiking trails, and plenty of fish in its clear water stream.

Dillingham, AK 99576, Phone: 907-842-2641

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25 Best Alaska State & National Parks



Hotel Spotlight: Glacier Bay Country Inn

Set on 160 acres of pristine Alaskan rainforest and rolling meadows with spectacular mountain views, Glacier Bay Country Inn is a relaxing retreat in the heart of Gustavus, Alaska. Offering unparalleled scenery and tranquility, and excellent fishing, hiking, bike riding, wildlife viewing, the Glacier Bay Country Inn features a variety of accommodations ranging from deluxe guest and lodge rooms to private cabins with private bathrooms and modern amenities, spacious living and dining rooms and a fully equipped kitchen where a house chef prepares delicious cuisine. Other facilities at the Inn include a library, television and games room, and a 2,000 square foot recreational room adjacent to the main inn with a pool and ping pong table, arcade, and board games, and theater room.

Guest Accommodations

Glacier Bay Country Inn features a variety of accommodations ranging from five well-appointed guest rooms and four lodge rooms with spacious stand-alone cabins. All accommodations feature king, queen, double or twin pillow-top beds dressed in deluxe linens, comforters and pillows, and en-suite bathrooms with shower/bath combinations, fresh towels, and quality bath products. Spacious living areas have comfy sleeper sofas and armchairs, flat-screen televisions with cable channels, and some rooms have kitchenettes with microwaves, fridges, and coffeemakers. Modern amenities include flat-screen TVs with cable channels and DVD players and complimentary wireless Internet.

Five guest rooms include Gardenside, Seaside, Countryside, Sylvan and Welkin and feature queen-size pillow-top beds dressed in deluxe linens, comforters and pillows, and en-suite bathrooms with shower/bath combinations, fresh towels, and quality bath products. Modern amenities include flat-screen televisions with cable channels and DVD players and complimentary wireless Internet.

Five spacious cabins offer 320 square feet of space with private porches and breathtaking views. Cabins have a king, or queen-size pillow-top beds dressed in deluxe linens, comforters and pillows, and en-suite bathrooms with shower/bath combinations, fresh towels, and quality bath products. Modern amenities include flat-screen televisions with cable channels and DVD players and complimentary wireless Internet. Cabins include Fairweather, Wildflower, Big Bear, Rainforest and Northern Lights.

Dining

A complimentary full breakfast is served every morning and includes coffee, tea and hot beverages, fresh fruit and juices, cereals, granolas and yogurts, egg dishes, and freshly baked pastries, and bread. Hot drinks such as coffee and tea are available throughout the day and award-winning cuisine, including fresh seafood, is served for dinner in the evenings. Bookings for dinner are essential.

Amenities and Recreation

Amenities at the Glacier Bay Country Inn include a 2,000 square foot recreational room adjacent to the main inn with a pool and ping pong table, arcade, and board games, and theater room, a library, television and games room, and dining room where a complimentary full breakfast is served every morning. Other facilities at the Inn include a hot tub, a Ramada with a fireplace, a modern meeting room, a 24-hour service desk, a shuttle service, a private landing strip and a network of hiking trails. The Glacier Bay Country Inn offers a variety of packages, including fishing and adventure packages and combination packages.

Activities in the area include fresh water and salt water fishing, kayaking, bear and whale-watching tours, sightseeing flights, golf, Skagway train rides, visiting the Glacier Bay National Park, and kayaking on the McBride Glacier.

35 Tong Rd, Gustavus, AK 99826, Phone: 907-697-2288

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Hotel Spotlight: Denali Backcountry Lodge

At the furthest reaches of Denali Park Road lies the Denali Backcountry Lodge, located at the historic Kantishna settlement deep within the wilderness of Alaska’s Denali National Park. Denali Backcountry Lodge is the perfect place for couples and friends to begin their Alaskan journey. Beginning just south of the park entrance, The Denali Backcountry Adventure leads travelers on a private bus tour 92 miles into the heart of Denali National Park for 13 hours of sightseeing, ending at the Denali Backcountry Lodge. The all-inclusive lodge with 46 private cabins, fresh meals, bar, lounge and spa and wellness center is a restorative home base for the area’s renowned hiking and sightseeing.

The two-story Main Lodge at Denali Backcountry features dining, bar, and lounge areas, as well as a souvenir gift shop, with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout.

Separate from the main lodge, Denali Backcountry offers 42 individual heated cabins in three styles, all with private baths and rustic decor.

Each Traditional Cabin can accommodate up to four guests with two full-sized beds, while the larger Superior Cabins feature one king-sized bed. With one king- or two full-sized beds, Creekside Cabins offer direct views of Moose Creek from a private deck.

Dining

The Main Lodge serves a daily breakfast buffet with hot and cold selections including fresh fruit, coffee, juice, baked goods, eggs, bacon, French toast, and waffles. Lunch is also served buffet-style in the Day Lodge with house-made soups, sandwiches, and salads. Classic American dinners are served family-style in the Main Lodge dining room. All meals are included as part of the accommodations at Denali Backcountry Lodge.

Spa

The Nest Spa & Wellness Center at Denali Backcountry Lodge offers a range of services for guests to relax and unwind after a long day exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Professional therapists administer light to intensive massage treatments with essential oils and heated river stones, as well as a hand, foot and scalp massage with gentle exfoliation and moisturizing balm. Couple’s sessions are also available.

The Denali Backcountry Adventure is Denali Backcountry’s signature tour through the wilderness of Denali National Park. The 92-mile private bus tour and guided wilderness safari promises 13 hours of sightseeing, with the best viewing of the park’s wildlife, from bears and wolves to moose and caribou. The trip begins at the Denali Train Station and follows the entirety of Denali Park Road, with stops for photos along the way. The tour makes a stop at the park’s Eielson Visitors Centre and lookout, located 33 miles from the Denali summit, then heads to Miner’s Day Lodge for a full lunch buffet, with creek side views from the lodge’s screened-in porch.

Travelers reach the end of the Denali Park Road at Kantishna, the sparsely populated community originally founded in 1905 as a gold mining camp and home of Denali Backcountry Lodge. Activities in Kantishna include panning for gold in Moose Creek or a visit to renegade Alaskan Fannie Quigley’s Cabin. Nearby Wonder Lake is known locally for its spectacular sunset views, with Denali peak sometimes reflected in its surface. The surrounding tundra offers endless routes of trail-less hiking.

Hiking trails are plentiful in the wilderness surrounding Denali Backcountry Lodge, with Naturalist Guides available for a guided hike or botanical walk. Hidden Lake Trail at Glacier National Park is a popular hike through soaring alpine meadows. Hikers can view North America’s highest peak and the Alaskan Range from the McKinley Bar at Denali National Park. Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park takes hikers through crackling ice up to the Harding Icefield Trail.

Guests visiting Denali Backcountry Lodge between late August and September may even see the Northern Lights dancing across the sky.

For a shorter trip from a unique perspective, guests can schedule to take their return trip from the Denali Backcountry Lodge on an Alaskan Bush Plane. The 35-minute Kantishna Air Taxi allows travelers to experience the park’s glaciers, wildlife, and mountains all from the air.

Travelers taking the Denali Backcountry Adventure back to the park entrance arrive in time to take the afternoon train to Talkeetna or Anchorage.

Located at the base of Mount McKinley, Talkeetna attracts climbers from around the globe eager to challenge North America’s tallest mountain. Trout and salmon fishing are a renowned attraction. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Talkeetna offers a number of museums to explore, as well as artisans and musicians making a living in the frontier settlement.

Anchorage meanwhile is Alaska’s largest city, home to nearly half the state’s population, and offers golf, shopping, and nightlife entertainment along outdoor activities like rafting, sightseeing cruises, and railroad tours.

Mile 92 Denali Park Road, Healy, AK 99743, Phone: 800-808-8068

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Hotel Spotlight: Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge

The Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge in Copper Center, Alaska, is owned and managed by Princess Lodges. It is on 200 acres of land at the gates of the great Wrangell-St. Elias preserve, which is the biggest national park in the US. The lodge features scenic views of both the Copper and the Klutina Rivers as well as the Wrangell-St. Elias mountains. It is in operation from May through September. The lodge has been open since 2012 and offers a variety of on-site amenities and optional excursions for hotel guests.

The lodge offers 85 rooms for hotel guests.

The majority of the rooms at the lodge are traditional style rooms that come with either two queen beds or one king bed. All rooms were designed to feature a view of either the mountain or the valley. Room options are available for an occupancy of up to nine hotel guests at a time, and adjoining rooms are offered for larger hotel guest parties.

Each guest room also has a telephone and a television with a selection of local cable options and pay per view choices. They also have an alarm clock, a radio, a combination shower and bathtub and a bathroom hairdryer, a coffee maker (with a variety of self-serve coffee options), and a ceiling fan.

Every room also comes with an ice bucket, and each floor has its own ice machine. Many of the floors also have soda machines that are cash only.

Amenities

The lodge offers a variety of amenities to hotel guests. There is a gift shop offering hotel branded merchandise and guest essentials like Tylenol and toothbrushes. There are also guest computers available for use in the main lobby.

The lodge offers a fully staffed guest services desk to help with any potential questions, amenities, or optional excursions. Complimentary wireless internet access is also offered in the main lodge, and there is a nightly flag ceremony that offers active duty and military veterans.

For hotel guests traveling into the park, the lodge offers a free shuttle to the visitor center at both Wrangell-St. Elias and the Ahtna Cultural Center.

Copper River has three different dining areas located in the lodge.

The Two Rivers Restaurant is a sit down, elegant dining experience with views of both the valley and the mountain range and serves fresh, locally caught seafood options for breakfast and dinner. They are closed for lunch. Hotel guests are encouraged to obtain a reservation and to check the dress code prior to dining. The restaurant is two stories and is one of the most scenic areas of the lodge.

The lodge is also home to the Whistle Stop Bar and Grill. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves up local favorites as well as locally brewed beer and a selection of wine and cocktails. The restaurant also has a large patio with outside seating and televisions set up for guests to view while dining. This is the most popular restaurant at Copper River and can be crowded.

A final dining option at Copper River is the Dragonfly Espresso cafe. The cafe serves up freshly made pastries, specialty coffees, and other snack options on the go. They are only open in the mornings.

Kid Friendly Activities

Copper River provides a selection of kid friendly activities, most of which are offered free of charge. There are card and board games, shuffleboard, on-site walking trails, horseshoes, and park ranger programs. In additional, many of the optional excursions provided by the lodge are kid friendly.

Optional Excursions

The lodge provides a diverse selection of optional excursions that leave from the premises. Guests can take an ATV Wilderness Adventure and Hike or the Copper Country Discovery Tour. Guests can also go King Salmon fishing on a jet board or a fishing raft or take the Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise. Hotel guests should contact the staff at the guest services desk for more information or to reserve their space.

One of the most popular optional excursions is the dog sled demonstration and ride, which is enjoyable for families of all sizes and ages. Hotel guests can learn about how the dogs are kept and trained, and then either watch or take part in one of the dog sled rides.

There are also a variety of self-led excursions just outside the lodge’s front doors. Guests can make their way down to the Copper River with one of the walking trails and ask the guest services desk for materials for field sketching or water color (which can also be undertaken with a hotel tour guide).

1 Brenwick Craig Road, Copper Center, AK, Phone: 907-822-4000

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