1. Travel

Best Alaska State Parks to Visit in the Winter


Snowmobiling at Chugach State Park

courtesy of Alaska Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation

The Top Choices Feature a Bald Eagle Preserve and Two Parks with Outstanding Opportunities for Winter Sports.

Chugach State Park

Provides the scenic backdrop of mountains for Anchorage, Alaska. It spans 490,000 acres that can be accessed from the Seward Highway, the Hillside area, and the Glenn Highway. While Chugach can be easily reached by vehicle from many points, much of the park consists of remote backcountry areas accessible only by foot. Chugach State Park offers a variety of winter activities that include snowshoeing, ice climbing, mountaineering, snowmobiling, dog sledding, back country hiking and cross country skiing. Several public use cabins can be rented for overnight excursions. The park is also home to a wide variety of wildlife such as lynx, black and brown bear, moose, sheep, bald eagles, and wolves.

Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Preserve was created in June of 1982 in Southeast Alaska near Haines. The preserve was created to protect and perpetuate the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles. The Chilkat Valley is year round home for 200 to 400 bald eagles. The river “flats” of the Chilkat River along the Haines Highway between miles 18 and 21 are the main viewing area for eagle watchers and considered critical habitat in the preserve. Warm waters and late fish runs provide an easy food source for eagles as winter sets in. The best time to catch a spectacular view of the eagle is from mid – October to mid- December. It is possible to see over 100 eagles from one location during early winter. This year over 3400 eagles were spotted, the highest number documented since the mid -1980’s. Warmer weather and good fish runs this year account for the large number of eagles.

Chena River State Recreation Area

Designated as a 15,360-acre park unit in 1967 by the Alaska Legislature; in 1975, it was expanded to 254,080 acres. This recreation area, located in the northern part of the state offers winter activities of every flavor near Fairbanks. Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, dog mushing, and skijoring are some of the more popular activities. Local dog mushers take advantage of the area’s terrain to train for the 1000-mile Yukon Quest, the Iditarod and local dog sled races. The Chena Hot Springs Winter Trail used by the Yukon Quest sled dog race runs through the recreation area for about 26 miles. Some of the trails are groomed through the winter for skiing and snowmobiling. There are six cabins available for rent throughout the recreation area. Two cabins are located off the Chena Hot Spring’s road, and the other four are within a day ski or snowmachine ride. What a spectacular place to view the northern lights dancing across the skies.

Return to Best of the Best Winter State Parks page

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.