Camping on the Parks Highway, Alaska.

Camping on the Parks Highway

Actually, the highway is called the George Parks Highway, but it is more commonly known as just the Parks Highway, or Alaska Route 3. This 327 mile highway runs from a junction with the Glenn Highway about 35 miles north of Anchorage to Fairbanks. It has been designated a National Scenic Byway and it is also considered an Alaska Scenic Byway from about Mile 132 to Fairbanks.

This highway runs right through the Denali State Park and on the edge of the Denali National Park and Preserve. Mount McKinley, which is locally called Denali (elevation 20,320 feet), is viewable from several points along this highway. It is typically about a 6 hour drive, unless you stop and see the sights like we always do. There are several stops and side trips along the way that will draw your interest for sure.

In this article, I will be pointing out the campgrounds and RV Parks that include tent camping, mostly because a large multitude of the campgrounds are privately run on this highway. Otherwise, I will not post the private businesses. For a complete, mile-by-mile, listing of this highway and all of the RV parks and much more, I highly recommend The Milepost (www.themilepost.com). I will include some points of interest near each camping site whenever possible too. I will start this list at the Glenn-Parks Junction and continue up the Parks Highway to Homer.

For the ease of writing, I will only post the mileposts heading North (N). I will also put a (+) sign if it is within the mile marker; for instance, if the location is at mile 44.4, I will put 44+. You can assume that all campsites have a fire-pit, toilet, and table; unless I claim that it is primitive. Please watch for bears in the campgrounds and moose along the highway. So come along and go camping with me!

Mile N 0Starts at mile 0 in Anchorage.

Mile N 35Glenn-Parks Interchange: The sign heading north indicates that the Glenn Highway ends and the Parks Highway begins. Thus begins Alaska Route 3.

Mile N 36+Exit to Trunk Road: This newly completed road will take you to not only the hospital but also the Mat-Su Visitor Center and Veterans Monument. It will also eventually take you to Finger Lake State Recreation Site.

If you travel down Trunk Road to Bogard Road and go through the roundabout heading west down Bogard (left); you will find the Finger Lake State Recreation Site at mile 6.6 Bogard Road. This park has 39 campsites with wheelchair-accessible toilets, water, and boat launch.

Mile N 42.2Junction with Main Street/Wasilla Fishhook Road & Knik-Goose Bay Road: This confusing intersection throws many travelers. Heading North, is Main Street which turns into Wasilla Fishhook Road within a few blocks (at Bogard Intersection). Wasilla Fishhook heads toward the hills and junctions with Palmer Fishhook Road, which heads northeast to Hatcher Pass Road and Independence Mine State Historical Park or south towards Palmer (see more about Hatcher Pass at Camping on the Glenn Highway [coming soon]). If you take Knik-Goose Bay Road, instead of Main Street, you will head towards Point Mackenzie and it’s a nice side trip.

My family at Hatcher Pass.
My family at Hatcher Pass.

About 2 miles in, you will find the main entrance for the Iditarod Trail sled Dog Race™ Headquarters and visitor center. Just after that turnoff is Endeavor Street and about ½ a mile down that road is Lake Lucille Park (managed by the Mat-Su borough) campground and day use area. This campground has 59 sites, picnic pavilions, water, restrooms, playground, and trails at Lake Lucille.

At about 13 miles in, you will come across Knik Historic District which has a private campground on Knik Lake. (I have heard recently that this campground is for sale, so am not sure if it will be open for a little while.)

At just over 17 miles in you will find a junction with Point Mackenzie road. Follow this road for about 7 ½ miles and you will come to a “T” junction. If you turn left, you will head out to Point Mackenzie; if you turn right, you will head towards Susitna Flats State Game Refuge. We will head right from here and follow the road around the bend to the left.

At about 10 miles in, you will come to a fork in the road (after passing some railroad construction); take the road to the right. Then about 3 more miles in, you will come to the Little Susitna River Public-use Facility. You will find 40 campsites, outhouses, boat ramps, water, and great fishing. Please watch for bears and bring extra mosquito repellent.

Return to the Parks Highway at Mile 42.2 and continue north.

Mile N 52+Junction with Big Lake Road: Taking Big Lake Road will bring you into a resort destination for most Alaskans. In the winter, the lake has roads graded into it and they usually have snowmachine races and such. In the summer, you will find boaters and ATVs. There are three state recreation sites in the area that include swimming, camping, boating, fishing and much more.

At a little over 3 miles in, there is a junction with Beaver Lake Road. You can take this road to visit Martin Buser’s Kennels and Rocky Lake. Follow the signs to Rocky Lake State Recreation Site with 12 campsites on a gravel loop road with outhouses, water pump, and boat launch. (Lake is closed to jet skis, jet boats, and airboats)

At about 3 ½ miles on Big Lake Road, you will come to a “Y”, which is a junction with North Shore Drive. Take a right (North Shore Drive) and follow it for 1 ½ miles to the end at Big Lake North State Recreation Site with 60 overnight parking spaces and some walk-in tent sites. They have outhouses, shelters, water, and boat launch.

Stay on Big Lake Road to a bit over 5 miles and you will find the Big Lake South State Recreation Site. This park has a bumpy, graveled parking area with an overnight area that includes 20 campsites, outhouses, water, fishing, and boat ramp.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile N 57+Little Susitna River Campground: (Houston city operated) Take a right like your heading towards the public safety building and you will find the campground around to the right. This nice sized campground has 86 sites with a playground, restrooms, water pump, and picnic pavilion.

Mile N 66+Nancy Lake State Recreation Site: Turn west and then left (south) on Buckingham Palace Road and then go about a 1/3 of a mile to Nancy Lake State Recreation Site. This campground has 30 campsites with toilets and public access to Nancy Lake.

Mile N 67+Junction with Nancy Lake Parkway (South Rolly Lake Campground): This very small side road heads into the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area with lots of canoeing and public-use cabins (www.dnr.state.ak.us). There are lots of trailheads down this road that ends at South Rolly Lake Campground. This campground is heavily wooded and has 98 campsites with toilets, water, canoe rental, boat launch and fishing for trout.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile N 70+Junction with Willow Creek Parkway (Willow Creek State Recreation Area): Take the Willow Creek Parkway to head to the Deshka Landing boat launch. To go to the campground at Willow Creek State Recreation Area, follow Willow Creek Parkway for nearly 4 miles. This campground has paved parking for side-by-side camping with tables, water, toilets, and really great fishing. They also have interpretive signs, walking paths, and campground host.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile N 82+Susitna Landing Access Facility: This campground and boat launch is run by a concessionaire on ADF&G land. There are fees charged for camping and it has an RV Park, playground, boat launch, cabin rentals, restrooms, showers, and bank fishing.

Mile N 84+Caswell Creek: Take Susitna Shores to a public access for fishing at Caswell Creek. It has some extremely primitive campsites and there are a few portable bathroom stalls at the entrance. The fishing is down a steep cliff. Bring a case of mosquito repellent.

Mile N 86Sheep Creek Slough: Public fishing access with a graveled parking area, toilets, and a wheelchair-accessible trail. There is no fee and it is primitive camping (last checked). A really great fishing spot.

Mile N 88Sheep Creek Lodge: this lodge has cabins and camping. This lodge also has a restaurant and you must see the large burls on the porch. (Last seen, the Lodge was closed and for sale.)

Mile N 96+Montana Creek Campground: Campground is on the east side of the highway, while the Montana Creek State Recreation Site is on the west side of the highway. Both sides have camping. On the east side, you will find a general store, short-term parking for fishermen, and firewood. On the west side, the camping is a bit more primitive. There is a pedestrian tunnel under the highway and a pedestrian bridge. There is also a public access trail to the mouth of the Montana Creek on the Susitna River. Great fishing opportunities here.

Mile N 96+Chetta’s Corner: Listed as unsupervised camping. Rules and rates are posted.

Mile 111+Junction Talkeetna Spur Road: The Talkeetna Spur Road heads north to the community of Talkeetna (population: 848). This area is truly Alaskan and it is a must see for anyone visiting! I highly recommend more than a quick passing through. There are two camping options.

Head to the end of Main Street and you will find tent camping at the Talkeetna River Park. Another option would be to head to the private campground called the Talkeetna RV Park and Campground found at the public boat launch by turning off at the airport and following the signs.

This photo was taken from the beach in Talkeetna. You can see Denali in the background.
This photo was taken from the beach in Talkeetna. You can see Denali in the background.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile N 104+Susitna River Bridge: There is a western access to gravel bars on the north side of the bridge. I have seen people primitive camping in this area. There are no facilities whatsoever.

Mile N 114+Trapper Creek Inn & RV Park: I mention this RV Park because there are not many camping grounds nearby for Trapper Creek. It is a one stop shop with many conveniences. You can also camp there, so that is a plus.

Mile N 114+Junction with Petersville Road: Petersville Road heads nearly 19 miles into the wilderness and is a major recreational destination for Alaskans. It was built as a mining road with a lot of history attached. There are no major campgrounds but lots of cabins, lodges, and some primitive camping.

At just over 18 miles in, you will come to a fork in the road, the right fork heads to the Forks Roadhouse. The left fork heads to Peters Creek which has some informal camping available with no facilities. There is a bridge that crosses the creek but is restricted to the types of vehicles that can cross. It is a beautiful area with some nice fishing capabilities.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile N 115+Trapper Creek Trading Post: On the east side of the highway, you will find this trading post that also provides cabins and a campground. There are other amenities available too.

Mile N 134+Denali Viewpoint South (Denali State Park): This small area is heavily trafficked with mostly day use capabilities. It gets a lot of traffic and is right on the highway. However, it has some of the best views of Denali. There are 9 campsites with toilets, water pump, and the parking area can accommodate large vehicles. There is also a scenic viewpoint, viewing scopes, and an 800 foot long uphill trail to overlook.

Two of my kids are at the Denali Viewpoint enjoying a rare clear day!
Two of my kids are at the Denali Viewpoint enjoying a rare clear day!

Mile N 137+Lower Troublesome Creek campground and trailhead: You will find 10 campsites in the trees with 32 overnight parking spaces, picnic sites, toilets, water, and trailhead. There is a 0.6 mile trail to the Chulitna River from this area.

Mile 147Byers Lake Campground (Denali State Park): This campground features a nice day use parking area with picnic tables and cabins that are available to rent from www.dnr.state.ak.us. There are 73 sites with a dump station, wheelchair accessible toilets, water, and many trails. There is a trail that also connects you to the Veterans Memorial, which is the very next turnoff after Byers Lake Campground. This area is a must see and has an interpretive kiosk, viewing scopes, visitor information center, and is a very popular picnic spot.

Mile N 162+Denali View North Campground: This Park has some day use parking and 20 side-by-side spaces for overnight parking with picnic tables, firepits, interpretive kiosks, spotting scope, nature trail and it overlooks the Chulitna River and views of Denali.

Mile N 194+Primitive camping and parking: Watch for spots to have primitive campsites on the side of the road. There is informal parking next to the Middle Fork Chulitna River. Watch for Caribou in this area. I have seen the Caribou in the brush starting from mile 194 to mile 210, and then on up into The Denali Highway.

Mile N 210Junction the Denali Highway: Please see my upcoming article on this Highway. Another must see for tourists with many camping capabilities.

Mile N 231Denali Grizzly Bear Resort: The only AAA-approved campground in the Denali area. They have many accommodations available and they have riverside tent areas. Visit www.denaligrizzlybear.com for more information.

Mile N 237+Junction with Park Road/Denali National Park and Preserve: This is the entrance to the Park Road and a great spot for pictures. There is a visitor center, shuttle services, and so much more. I highly recommend this area to all tourists and locals who want to camp and have a lot of activities available. I also recommend that you visit http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm to make reservations, get maps, and any other details that might be needed for a successful trip into the Denali area. There are a lot of rules and regulations so be sure to check out all of the links. Also, be very careful about the bears!

Since this park has many different rules that are very different from normal camping rules, I am just going to describe the locations of the 6 campgrounds. You can do primitive camping and backpacking in the back country, but you need permits and there are some extensive rules and you must watch the backcountry simulator program first. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of wolves, bears, and such out there and they want the least impact on the park possible. Stop by the Wilderness Access Center at about 0.2 mile on the Park Road.

At about a 1/3 of a mile in, you will find the largest campground in the park. Riley Creek Campground has 147 spaces that are located along 3 gravel loops. They feature a Mercantile, shuttles, laundry and shower facilities, and many other amenities. This campground pretty much has it all but the spaces are limited (even at 147) and you would do well to reserve your spaces ahead of time. This campground is open year round but has no running water in the winter.

If you travel in to mile 12.8, you will find the Savage River Campground with 33 campsites that includes 3 group tent sites. There is a trail, restrooms, and firepits. You must have a permit or shuttle bus ticket to go beyond the Savage River check station.

At mile 22 you will see the Sanctuary River Campground that accommodates tents only. You can access this campground via shuttle bus only and no reservations in advance allowed. There is also a Sanctuary River ranger station.

At mile 29.1 you will find the Teklanika River Campground which is at an elevation of 2,580 feet. There is Tent camping, RV’s, and 5th wheels allowed but no trailers or towed vehicles. There is a water filling station. You must have a camping reservation and it’s a good idea to watch for bears in the area.

Igloo Creek Campground is found at mile 34.2 and it is tent camping only. They have vault toilets, and the only water is from the creek. You must reserve these spots and there are grizzlies in the area.

The final campground is at mile 84.6 and it is called Wonder Lake Campground, which is at an elevation of 2,090 feet. There are tents only allowed here and access is shuttle bus only. You can see Mount McKinley (Denali) from here and lots of Denali calendars feature it’s reflection in Wonder Lake.

I feel it important to note that at the end of Park Road are several lodges, resorts, and camps. Please make reservations in advance.

Back to the Parks Highway

**Caution** Please drive carefully and slowly through the next 10 miles due to people crossing the street.

Mile 240+Denali Riverside RV Park: this is a private park but it has some great views of the river that is nearby and it is only a few miles from the park entrance. You will find 90 sites; some with RV pull-throughs and some are dry and tent camping. There are handicapped-accessible bathrooms, TV, pay showers, laundry, gift shop, tours, and more.

Mile 247Junction with Otto Lake Road (Denali Outdoor Center): If you travel a ½ mile down this road you will find the Denali Outdoor Center which has some cabins and a campground. They also offer many tourist packages that include kayaking and equipment rentals. It is about 10 minutes to the Park Entrance from here.

Mile 248+McKinley RV & Campground: This area has tent and RV sites that are wooded right off the highway. There is free Wi-Fi, shuttle to Denali Park, a grocery store, gas station, deli, ATM, and Brewery/Restaurant. You will find a lot of amenities at this this campground for sure.

Mile 276Tatlanika Trading Co. and RV Park: This gorgeous site is right on the Nenana River and has tent sites and RV parking with services. They also have a dump station, clean restrooms, showers, laundry, and water. There are also trails and they are only 39 miles from the Denali Park. You can also view their educational and historical displays.

Mile 283+Junction with Clear Air Force Station and Anderson: This is a ballistic missile early warning site (Military installation) and also the small town of Anderson (pop: 536) is nearby. You cannot enter the military base but you can turn right and travel 1.2 miles into Anderson which has a small amount of services.

At the end of the road (a bit over 6 miles in), is the Anderson Riverside City Park. This park is a bit simplistic but it has 40 sites on the Nenana River and lots of room to run. The last time I came to this site for a picnic the place seemed a bit rundown but that was about 5 years ago. I hope that they have started maintaining it better.

Back to the Parks Highway

Mile 304+Entering Nenana (Nenana RV Park & Campground): Take the junction to the right to enter Nenana (pop: 553) at A Street and then take a right on 4th. You will then find the Nenana RV Park & Campground. This is the only campground in the area although I am not sure of the amenities that they provide. I will update you the next time I travel through the area. This city sits on the confluence of the Tanana and the Nenana Rivers and is home to the Nenana Ice Classic.

**Fairbanks arrival and junction with the Richardson Highway (Alaska Route 2 South) and Steese Highway (Alaska Route 2 North). I will write about Fairbanks campgrounds in another article.

I will leave you here and continue with writing about the camping opportunities of the different highways within Alaska. I hope this has helped you and please let me know if you have any questions about camping on the Parks Highway or anywhere else in Alaska.

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Men Taking Picture of Eagle get stuck in Mud Flats

Mudflats.
Mudflats.

Men Taking Picture of Eagle get stuck in Mud Flats

It seems like every year I hear about someone who wanders out onto the mudflats in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska. Sometimes they make it out, sometimes they don’t. There are some legendary stories about some of the ones who didn’t make it out; like the newly-wed couple, where the brand new wife didn’t make it out. Truly the most sad story of all. I think they should post signs all over the place, maybe every 50 feet or so, warning everyone. However, there will still be those people who test fate. I got stuck in the mud flats one time as a child down in Nikiski (North Kenai) and it took a bunch of camping people to get me out. I lost my boots. The mud flats are like quick sand and once your stuck, your stuck! Anyhow, here is the latest story.

Camping on the Seward Highway in Alaska

 

The Seward Highway has garnered a triple threat of designations: National Forest Scenic Byway, All-American Road, and Alaska Scenic Byway. This beautiful highway travels 127 miles from Anchorage to the community of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. The first 9 miles are within the city of Anchorage and it is called the New Seward Highway.

In this article, I will be listing all of the camping sites on the Seward Highway (Alaska Route 1 & 9) that I know of and what I know of them. Some will be RV capable and some may be primitive; however I will not post RV park businesses unless there is a special circumstance and I will post that circumstance. For a complete, mile-by-mile, listing of this highway and all of the RV parks and much more, I highly recommend The Milepost (www.themilepost.com). I will include some points of interest near each camping site whenever possible too. I will start this list just outside of Anchorage and continue down the Seward Highway to Homer.

For the ease of writing, I will only post the mileposts heading South (S). I will also put a (+) sign if it is within the mile marker; for instance, if the location is at mile 44.4, I will put 44+. You can assume that all campsites have a firepit and table, unless I claim that it is primitive. Please watch for bears in the campgrounds and moose along the highway. So come along and go camping with me!

Mile S 101+ Bird Creek, Chugach State Park: There is a parking area to the east for day-use with interpretive signs and 20 overflow spots. To the West is the campground with 28 campsites, toilets, water, and payphone. There is a paved bike trail from Indian to Bird Creek that runs about 3 miles and goes through the campground. **Warning: Do not go out on the mud flats as it is like quicksand.

Mile S 90 (Side Trip) – Girdwood – Alyeska Highway: The 3 mile Alyeska Highway heads into Girdwood which is known for the skiing and hiking in Alyeska. There is an Aerial Tram and a restaurant on the mountain.

Forest Fair Park – has 20 walk-in campsites available off of Egloff Drive. I have seen people camping there and there is a playground nearby. It is pretty full during certain times of year, especially during the Alyeska Blueberry Festival.

Crow Creek Mine National Historic Site: At mile 1.9 of the Alyeska Highway, you turn down Crow Creek Road and travel 3 miles down to the site. There is a trailhead for Crow Pass Trail at mile 6.

Return to Mile S 90 of the Seward Highway.

Mile S 78+ (Side trip) – Portage Glacier Access Road/Whittier: This road is your access to both the Glaciers, campgrounds, and the port town of Whittier whose only access is through a 2.5 mile shared train/vehicle tunnel. The Portage Glacier area has a visitor’s center, a lake cruise to the Glacier, campgrounds and some awesome scenery. One thing you may want to know is that you can camp pretty much anywhere along the Portage Glacier Access Road. The port town of Whittier is fairly small with a winter population of 159 souls. They grow quite a bit during the summer due to all of the cruise ships and tunnel traffic. The tunnel charges round trip tolls depending on the vehicle size.

At about 3 ½ miles in, you will see the Black Bear USFS Campground; which has 12 campsites, toilets, and it is a nicely wooded area. Watch for bears in this and all areas of this road. I have seen them cross very near here.

At a little over 4 miles in, you will see the Williwaw USFS Campground. This campsite is very near the Middle Glacier and has 60 campsites with some pull-through sites, water, and lots of trails. There is a fish viewing platform nearby. Again, watch for bears.

As you go through the tunnel and enter into Whittier, you will come across a road on the left before coming to the Whittier Creek. It is a beach access road (not sure of the name of the road) with parking, bathrooms, and no other services. I have seen people camping in this beach area.

Just past Whittier Creek, you will see Whittier Street on the right. This road will take you to the paid parking and there is a campground nearby with basic accommodations but no services for RVs.

My 3 kids at Portage Lake. You can see the glacier in the background. When I was a child, the glacier was in the lake near the bank. (photo 2012)
My 3 kids at Portage Lake. You can see the glacier in the background. When I was a child, the glacier was in the lake near the bank. (photo 2012)

Return to mile S 78.9 of the Seward Highway.

Mile S 75Welcome to the Kenai Peninsula! It is fair to note that most any pull out or gravel pit allows primitive camping on the side of this highway, but I will mention the ones that I have seen used the most. Just make sure it is not private property and does not have any “no fires/camping” signs. Be careful of any wildlife in the area.

Mile S 68.5 (West) & 68 (East)Turnagain Pass Recreation Area: (elevation 988 ft) Parking areas with bathrooms and picnic tables on both sides of the highway. This area is a favorite for snowmobilers (west side) and cross country skiers (east side.) Snow often reaches 12 feet and might last well into June. There are some great trails here but the camping will be mostly in your RV or farther in on the trail and very primitive if you walk into the trails. It was worth mentioning this area though.

Mile S 67+Primitive gravel camping area. On the west side is gravel access to some informal camping.

Mile S 65+Bertha Creek USFS Campground: This small campground has 12 sites with water, toilets, and bear proof food lockers. It is in a wooded area by a creek so be watchful of bears.

Mile S 62+Granite Creek USFS Campground: Take the gravel road nearly a mile to the campground that has 19 sites with toilets, water, firewood, host (usually), interpretive signs and fishing. Pretty nice area and you must still watch for bears. Yes, it requires repeating it often.

Mile S 56+ (Side Trip) – Hope Highway Junction: This paved highway is nearly 18 miles long towards the small community of Hope, which is an old gold rush mining town from the late 1800’s. With a population of 151 and some buildings still in good shape from the gold mining days, you can really enjoy this small oasis that is preserved so well.

At about 16 miles in, you will find a junction with Resurrection Creek Road. This road leads to the airport and some trails, but at about ½ mile in you can take Palmer Creek Road which gives you a gravel access into Chugach National Forest. If you go 7 miles down Palmer Creek Road, you will find the Coeur d’Alene USFS Campground with 6 walk-in primitive campsites. (No fee) Watch for bears and I do not recommend this road for RVs or trailers. Return to Hope Highway.

At nearly 17 miles down the Hope Highway, you will find the center of Hope towards the beach. There is access to the Seaview Café and Bar and campground. I do not know very much about this camping area so I am just mentioning it as an option.

At the end of the highway, about 18 miles in, you will a nearly 1 mile loop road that runs through the Porcupine USFS Campground. This campground boasts 24 paved campsites with outhouse, water, firewood, trails, and some overlooks with great views of the Turnagain Arm. I highly recommend this campground and the Hope area for those that want to see Alaska in depth. Watch for bears, once again.

Return to Mile S 56+ of the Seward Highway.

Mile S 46Tenderfoot Creek USFS Campground: About ½ a mile in on a gravel road, you will find a nice campground that is located at the back of Upper Summit Lake. There are 35 sites with water, toilets (wheelchair accessible), boat launch, and fishing. Please be bear aware here. There is a lodge nearby with food and lodging. It is a very beautiful area and they ice fish at this lake during the winter too.

Mile S 39+Devils Creek Trail: There is an expert trail that runs 10 miles into the hills and starts at 1,000 feet and runs up into 2,400 feet. There are camping options available (very primitive) at miles 2.3 and 5.3 along the trail. There is also a public-use cabin (must be reserved in advance).

Mile S 37+ – Southbound exit for Sterling Highway (Alaska Route 1): To continue to Seward, continue straight ahead on Alaska Route 9. For the Sterling highway and its campgrounds, click here.

Mile S 37Tern Lake Junction (Sterling Highway 2nd junction): You can turn here to access a second junction with the Sterling Highway (Alaska Route 1) if you want, but I mention it because you must turn here to access Tern Lake USFS Wildlife Viewing Area. There are not campsites here but I have seen people do primitive camping in the parking area corners. This is a great spot to see nesting birds and other wildlife. Return to Alaska Route 9, the Seward Highway.

Alaska Route 9: Heading toward Seward. Travel slowly through Moose Pass (at mile S 28) and stop in and visit a few places here.

Mile S 24+Trail River USFS Campground: There is a side road that leads 1.2 miles in to this gorgeous campground. I highly recommend this campground which has 91 campsites with day-use picnic sites, shelter, volleyball net, playground, and host. This is a great place for berry picking in the fall.

Mile S 23+Ptarmigan Creek USFS Campground: This is a cozy campground with 16 campsites featuring water, toilets, and fishing in the creek or in Ptarmigan Lake (hike in 3.5 miles). There will be salmon spawning in the creek in the fall.

Mile S 16+Primrose USFS Campground: This campground is located about a mile down Primrose Spur Road (past private homes) on the Kenai Lake. It is a dirt road and may not be great for larger RVs or trailers. The day use area is located on the lake and has a sizable beach that many use for access to the Kenai Lake for winter snowmobiling. The campground has 8 sites in a heavily wooded area with toilets, boat ramp, firepits, and water. There is a trail that is used for hikers in the summer and snowmobilers in the winter which runs 6.5 miles and connects with Lost Creek Trail (7 miles).

Mile S 3+ – Exit Glacier Road via Herman Leirer Road: Turn to the west for Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park. This road travels nearly 8 ½ miles to reach Exit Glacier. I will warn you right now, there are a lot of bears in the area!

Right after turning onto the Herman Leirer Road, take a right onto the Old Exit Glacier Road loop. Travel about 1 ½ miles in and you will enter the Glacier Road Special Use Area with semi-primitive camping and an 8 day camping limit.

If you don’t take the Old Exit Glacier Loop junction, and remain on Herman Leirer Road, you will enter the Kenai Fjords National Park at about 1.3 miles in. This road is closed in the winter to vehicles but open to skiers, snow machines, and mushers. You are now entering Exit Glacier Road Special Use Area (Alaska DNR) with recreational tent and RV (no services) camping at designated pullouts along the next 2.2 miles of the road. There is an 8 day limit, outhouses, and you must pack out your garbage. This is a fairly primitive area with gorgeous views of the river and surrounding areas.

At about 8 miles in you will find the turn on your left for a walk-in tent campground with 12 sites. There is a bathroom, picnic shelter with bear proof food locker, and no fees. I personally have seen pictures of cars that have been broken into by large bears in this area and they open them up like a tin can. Please be careful and aware. Just past this camping area is the Exit Glacier Nature Center, which is a must-see for anyone visiting the area.

Bear warnings
Bear warning sign found at the Exit Glacier campground in 2013.

Return to the Seward Highway at mile S 3.7.

Mile S 2+Forest Acres Municipal Campground (At Hemlock St.): You will find wooded sites on a gravel loop with flush toilets and RV hookups.

Mile S 2+Seward Military Resort/Seward Air Force Camp (via Sea Lion Dr.): Both vacation facilities for active and retired military. There are camping sites available as well as cabins and RV services in both areas. This area is beautiful and well kept. If you or someone is your party is active or retired military or a federal employee, you will gain access to this coveted camping area.

Mile S 0 – Two more areas to mention that are not on the Seward Highway but are accessible. The Waterfront Park Municipal Campground is located literally on the waterfront in Seward (between the docks and downtown) and they have some RV hookups, restrooms with coin-op showers, and a dump station. (Owned by the City of Seward)

Another area to mention is Lowell Point Recreation Area that is located past Seward on Lowell Point Road (3 miles). There is the Lowell Point State Recreation Site with many trails available, but be sure to take a tide table book with you as much of the trails require low tide access.

In Lowell Point, down Pinnacle View Road, you will find the Lowell Point State Recreation Area Beach Parking with a trail to the beach. The beach is beautiful and a great area for photographs. Throughout this community, you will find private campgrounds, cabins and other lodging and kayaking businesses. The two that I am aware of are Millers Landing and The Silver Derby Campground & RV Park.

Alaska Sealife Center with my 2 boys in March 2009. Seward, Alaska
Alaska Sealife Center with my 2 boys in March 2009. Seward, Alaska

Don’t forget to visit the Alaska Sealife Center while you are in Seward. I also find that a short cruise can take you to see Fox Island, a multitude of glaciers, and tons of sea life. Halibut fishing is a definite perk and don’t forget to walk through downtown Seward and the docks to get a closer glimpse into the locals world in beautiful Seward. This area is one of my favorite weekend vacation spots.

Seward, Alaska
This is downtown Seward. March 2009

Feliz Alaska!!

I don’t speak their language, but the language of love is universal! ❤ They drove in their limo 30,000 miles from Patagonia to Alaska. They drove through 17 countries and that is pretty amazing! 🙂 I just wanted to share it! I would love to do this! Check out their facebook page too! https://www.facebook.com/americasenlimo

América sin límites

llegada a Alaska Los sueños se cumplen ¡¡Feliz Alaska para todos!!

En este sencillo pero emotivo acto damos por conquistado nuestro sueño de una vez y para siempre.
845 días de viaje, 50000 kmts y 17 países después de que nos dijeran que no se podía. Abrazos desde Alaska y nuestro eterno agradecimiento a todos los que fueron parte.
Los sueños se cumplen.

PD: en estos días actualizaremos la información, aún no podemos creer haber llegado. 

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Salmon-Mushroom Quiche

A quiche, or ‘salmon pie’, is often brought to potlucks (potlatches) in Alaska. We often have ‘feeds’ to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or to commemorate anniversaries. My husband’s auntie Mary used to bring the most delicious Salmon Pie to every feed. This is not the recipe for it, she wouldn’t give it out, but this is the closest I could come to it.

Salmon-Mushroom Quiche

1 10-inch baked pie crust

Filling

1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 Tbsp. flour
2 cups cooked salmon, flaked
1/2 cup cream cheese (or other creamy, fresh cheese)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives

Custard

2 cups half-n-half (or evap. milk)
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Heat butter in a small pan over medium heat. When is gone, add mushrooms and onions. Stir and cook till wilted. Stir in flour and combine well. Remove from heat.
3. Distribute salmon evenly in pie shell. Dot with fresh cheese and add the mushrooms and onions mixture, as well as the chives.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add salt and cayenne and pour over filling and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until quiche is golden on top and slightly puffed. REmove from ove, cool 15 minutes, then slice.

Serves 6

 

Caramel Spice Cake

Caramel Spice Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup chopped pecans

Frosting:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Set aside.

 

2. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with 1 1/2 buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans.

 

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

 

4. To make the frosting:  In a large bowl, combine butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and about 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Beat well, then gradually beat in the remaining confectioners’ sugar alternately with 1/4 cup buttermilk. Beat until smooth and creamy and spread on cake.

Serves 16

 

Alaska Nuggets

Delicious as a main dish or party tidbit!

Alaska Nuggets

1-1/2 cups canned salmon
1/2 cup mashed potatoes, thick
1 tbsp. minced celery
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sifted bread crumbs or flour

Mix flaked salmon and potatoes. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender; mix with salmon. Add seasonings and shape into little balls the size of a walnut. Push a cube of cheese into each ball; reshape. Dip in egg and roll in crumbs or flour. Fry in enough fat at 375ºF to cover. Or use less fat and turn balls to brown.

(I will add a picture when I make the recipe again.)

Knitter ‘yarn-bombs’ sign poles around Alaskan town

This is an awesome story that really highlights the uniqueness of Alaska! I really love what she is doing to beautify her city. I imagine the cost of all of that yarn and wonder if she happened to have lots of extra yarn laying around her house. It’s a great idea to look to your inner creative child and you never know who’s day you might make with that creativity. Great story!!!

Global News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A knitting enthusiast in southeast Alaska is yarn-bombing her seaside community by wrapping public poles in knitted casings, sort of like a small-town Christo let loose with doilies.

Fran Hartman has just begun her personal beautification effort in picturesque Sitka. She’s decorated four poles and plans at least eight more, with some knitted contributions coming from fellow knitters she’s met around the world. The Sitka idea is one she’s thought about for months before launching it earlier this month.

“You can only knit and crochet for so many people in your life,” Hartman said. “I needed to keep my creative juices flowing.”

She doesn’t have the city’s official permission, but her work is drawing positive reactions. Hartman, 61, is a former teacher who retired from the Everett School District in Washington state before sailing around the world with her husband, then settling in Alaska several years ago…

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The Legend of the Sleeping Lady

sleeping lady
Mount Susitna, Alaska. Also known as Sleeping Lady. She is in her winter blanket.

The Legend of the sleeping Lady

Growing up in Alaska, I have heard many of the legends, myths, and rumors in and around this state. The legend of the Sleeping Lady has been one of the most shared legends that I know of. The legend states that I heard while growing is stated to have been an old native legend; however I have heard recently that their legend is much different than the one I grew up with and that one was most likely created by old miners or homesteaders.

The basics of what I heard were that long ago there were a race of giant people and that there was a princess named Susitna who was waiting for fiancé warrior who never returned. She fell asleep while waiting and became Mount Susitna, also known as the sleeping lady. This mountain across the Cook Inlet from Anchorage has this legend and then another from the original people in the area, the Dena’ina.

Here is the legend I knew as a child:

Long ago, there lived a Gentle Giant people. The Giant people loved their land in lived in peace and harmony. The children played and danced and the adults talked of their land that stretched into the inlet by the sea.

Within the Giant People’s tribe, there lived a young couple: Susitna and Nekatla. These two young people loved each other like no others. Their love lit up the sky with great dancing lights and their people loved and respected them for their devotion to one another.

One terrible day, a stranger visited the Giant People. He told them stories of a fierce and warlike tribe that lived far to the North. The stranger warned that the Giant People would one day be attacked by the warlike tribe.

After hearing the news, the Great Chief of the Giant People gathered the tribe together in council. The Giant People decided that all of the men, young and old, would travel North to convince the warlike tribe to live in peace and harmony.

Susitna and Nekatla knew they would be separated for a long time. They walked hand in hand to their favorite plateau, overlooking the slender inlet. Nekatla gazed into Susitna’s tearful eyes and promised her that he would return. He asked that she wait at this spot, as he wanted to find her as soon as he returned.

Many days and nights passed with no sign of the Giant Men or Nekatla. Susitna wove baskets and picked berries, but she grew weary and lay down on the plateau and was soon fast asleep. Meanwhile, the Giant People’s Men arrived at the Northern Warlike Village.

Their plea for peace and harmony was met with a swift and terrible answer. Suddenly the Warlike Tribe attacked the Giant People. The battle was fierce, but short. Many of the Giant People were killed and others were taken prisoner.

The news of the disaster quickly swept across the Great Land. The name of Nekatla was on everyone’s lips, for he too had fallen. With his last breathe he spoke the name of his precious Susitna. The women of the Giant People could not bear to awaken Susitna and tell her the fateful news. To shield her from heart break they wove a blanket of grass and wildflowers and gently placed it over her sleeping form.

That night the women prayed to their Gods to place Susitna in a deep, unwakening sleep. The Gods answered the women’s prayers, but the price was high, as the Great land would be changed forever. The air tuned cold and a light snow began to cover Susitna and the long stretch of land that ran into the inlet. That snow was the first that had fallen in the Great Land.

Days turned into years and Susitna continued to sleep and dream of Nekatla’s return. The Giant People disappeared from the Great Land, and a different smaller people came in their place to watch over the Sleeping Susitna. Each summer her sleeping body is still covered by the blanket of grass and wildflowers and each winter the God’s gently place a soft blanket of snow upon her.

There are some who say that when all the warring people of the world disappear and peace and harmony return, Nekatla will awaken his sleeping Susitna. But today few remember the Giant People. Many call the great mountain Susitna but the wise, who believe the legend, gaze at her from a distance and respectfully address her as the “Lady”.

As you can see, this story has a lot of beautiful drama with a fairly sad ending. It is the story I knew as a child but, even then, there are a few different versions of this legend. There is another legend told by the Dena’ina people but it is quite different from this one.

The basics of this legend are as follows:

Cook Inlet Region Inc. Historian A.J. McLanahan cited evidence that Mount Susitna was sacred to the Dena’ina people in the area, and linked the mountain, which they called “Dghelishla,” or “little mountain,” with Denali, which they called “Dghelay Ka’a,” or “big mountain.”

In “A Dena’ina Legacy,” Peter Kalifornsky told the story of the Mountain People who gathered at Susitna, and a giant lady who said she would lie down by the river she loved to become Susitna Mountain. Her relatives followed, Kalifornsky said, to become Mount Redoubt, Mount Iliamna and the Chigmit Mountain Range. Another wandered inland to become Denali.

And yet another version of the Dena’ina legend:

The Dena’ina name for Mount Susitna is Dghelishla, “little mountain.” It is a sacred place. Here, Dena’ina elders said, the ancestors of the Nulchina clan descended from the sky on a frozen cloud. Here, the renowned Dena’ina qeshqa, Diqelas Tukda, obtained spiritual power. Here, centuries before, a young Dena’ina man from Tuqen Kaq’ (Alexander Creek) discovered a deposit of copper and through trade became rich.

The ridge sloping to the south of Dghelishla is Ch’chihi Ken, “Ridge Where We Cry.” Shem Pete explained this name:

That big ridge going downriver from Dghelishla all the way to Beluga,

They call Ch’chihi Ken.

They would sit down there.

Everything is in view.

They can see their whole country.

Everything is just right under them.

They think about their brothers and their fathers and mothers.

They remember that,

And they just sit down there and cry.

That’s the place we cry all the time,

‘Cause everything just show up plain.

That’s why they call it Ch’chihi Ken.

 

I find it very interesting that this simple beautiful mountain has so many stories and legends connected to it. I love all of them and I am just so very glad that this beautiful Mt. Susitna, forever known as The Sleeping Lady, is in my view on a daily basis.

If you enjoyed this story, then please follow me for some more Alaskan information and stories in the future.

 

My Sources: (last accessed 6/19/2014)