The 6 Best State Parks in Alaska
1. Denali State Park
The big one, Denali, (formerly known as Mt. McKinley) is the tallest mountain in North America, and resides in this park. Denali State Park shares a boundary on the east with the Talkeetna Mountains and on west resides Denali National Park which is much larger than the state park and much more crowded. The National Park only allows personal vehicles up to Savage Creek — beyond that you have to take a bus to get to Denali. Denali State Park has camp sites, public use cabins and plenty of hikes, if you hike along the Kesugi Ridge you can see the most impressive views of Denali. Wildlife is almost guaranteed: Moose, bears, sheep and smaller creatures can be found walking along the trails. Be prepared for an encounter.
2. Chugach State Park
A million-acre park. Located next to the Chugach National Forest and Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, there are 280 miles of trails that you can hike, bike, ATV, horseback ride. Campsites are available as well if you want to stay the night under the midnight sun. Eagle River is a great place to go canoeing, kayaking or rafting. If you want to take a thrill ride Campground Rapids has class II and III rapids. And you can take a look at the campground before heading into the water to see if it fits your abilities and comfort level.
3. Boswell Bay State Marine Park
Just a ferry ride away from Seward is Boswell Bay State Marine Park in Cordova, one of my favorite spots to visit. Cordova has amazing kayaking spots that are great for beginners and those with fins. Boswell Bay is adjacent to Copper River Delta Critical Habitat area which has vast tidelands and wildlife to be seen. With plenty of fishing, camp sites, and scenery you can’t go wrong with Boswell Bay State Marine Park or just Cordova in general.
4. Birch Lake State Recreation Site
In the summer, you can enjoy the water and take out motorized or non-motorized boats on the lake for fishing or just a spin around the water. In the winter, you can enjoy ice fishing and snow machining on the lake. Birch lake is unique in its accessibility, there is an area of the lake just for military families to enjoy which includes cabin and boat rental along with camp sites. There is also a civilian side of the lake too with campsites available. Many people have homes on the lake as well, you may sometimes spot a resident washing their hair in the lake.
5. Shoup Bay State Marine Park
Just outside of Valdez is Shoup Bay State Marine Park. You can get there by hiking, taking a boat or kayaking to the bay. Cabins are available for rental if you want to stay the night, hiking trails and of course the bay with fishing, sight-seeing and boating adventures.
6. Chena River State Recreation Site
Located in the heart of Fairbanks Chena River State Recreation Site also known as Chena Wayside Park is a frequent spot for locals looking to escape the workweek grind. In October, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts race down the Chena River in the Freeze Up Canoe Race, starting at Chena Wayside Park and finishing down the river at Pikes Boat Launch. Chena is a city park with campsites, picnic areas, river side trails, restrooms with plumbing (a rarity in Alaska) and access to the Chena River.