Best Tent Camping in Alaska

A few random notes on camping in Alaska:

  • Most private and government owned designated campsites in Alaska are open mid to late May through early September, with the more northern sites having a slightly shorter season.
  • Make sure to consider the midnight sun in some northern areas of Alaska and pack a sleeping mask.
  • Alaska does not prohibit roadside camping in the numerous turnouts and rest stops (The only exception: some rest stops have “no camping signs.”).
  • You might have more problems with the mosquitos, than the bears, but be prepared for both.

Here is a list of great Alaska State Parks and State Recreation Areas to tent camp:

Anchor River State Recreation Area

The furthest point west on the U.S. Highway system. Three volcanoes are visible from across the Cook Inlet and, like everywhere in Alaska fishing and wildlife viewing is excellent. Camping is allowed in designated sites only, and fires are restricted to the provided fire gates. The nearby Stariski State Recreation Site also has a small, quiet campground, but there is no fishing (it’s up on a bluff, so you’ll just have to be happy with the views).

Chena River State Recreation Area

A popular spot which draws 150,000 visitors year. Camp in developed campgrounds like the Red Squirrel or Rosehip campground, or find a quieter spot in the undeveloped areas, along the many gravel bars or river access roads.  

Chugach State Park

Almost a half-millions acres located in south-central Alaska, mostly within Anchorage. There are three campgrounds (Eklutna Lake, Eagle River, Bird Creek) that offer tent camping. Only Eagle River allows reservations. You can also camp in the backcountry provided you follow the regulations. There are also several primitive backcountry campsites that are first come, first serve.

Chilkat State Park

Four walk-in campsites, as well as 35 upgraded sites in among the forest of evergreen and deciduous trees, near the Chilkat Inlet, and Rainbow and Davidson glaciers.

Denali State Park

Halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and between the Talkeetna Mountains and the Alaska range, it’s the showcase of Alaska. From the tallest peak in North America, to the low lying streams and alpine tundra. The park is mostly wilderness with a few roadside facilities offering a safer place to camp. There are designated campsites at Denali Viewpoint North, Lower Troublesome Creek Campground, Byers Lake Campground, and the more secluded Lakeshore Campground.

Kodiak State Park

Camping is available at the Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park (a good place to avoid RVs as the narrow rustic roads are difficult to maneuver); Buskin River State Recreation Site (where all the RVs are sent; however, the wildlife of all sorts -- brown bears, eagles, harlequin ducks, harbor seals -- and excellent fishing for coho and sockeye salmon might make up for the hum of generators); and Pasagshak River State Recreation Site (a great spot for sports fishing and wildlife watching). The Pasagshak campground is underdeveloped with only a hand-pump well and one latrine.

And for the more adventurous:

Wood-Tikchik State Park

The park is in a remote south west Alaska, north of Bristol Bay. Remote being the most important word here: you can only access the park by boat, airplane, or foot. Camping is allowed throughout the entire park; however camping near Upper Tikchik Lake may require a permit.

Other Resources to help plan your trip:

Alaska Campground 2016 Camping Guide

List of private, designated campgrounds in Alaska, and other resources such as route planning advice and information on travel.

The Milepost

Guide to campground, activities, weather, and travel in Alaska and Canada. They also publish a magazine with maps, route guides, and camp site logs.

Top Ten Places in Alaska You Must Explore

More Bear Safety Tips

Child-Friendly Camping Destinations in Alaska