Alaska's National Parks, At A Glance

Alaska's best national parks for adventure trips and activities


Park

Famous for ...

Visitors (per year)

Getting there

Denali National Park

20,310' Denali (North America’s tallest Peak), Ruth Gorge and Glacier

560,000

Park entrance is off the Parks Highway, easily reached by vehicle (120 miles south of Fairbanks; 235 from Anchorage)

Katmai National Park

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, bear-viewing at Brooks Camp

37,000

Park headquarters are located in King Salmon, which is 290 air miles southwest of Anchorage.

Prince William Sound & Kenai Fjords National Park

Tidewater glaciers and fjords, wildlife watching, and glacier viewing

250,000+ in PWS;

297,000 in Kenai Fjords

Access PWS through Whittier (60 road miles from Anchorage); Valdez (300 road miles from Anchorage) and Cordova (45-minute flight from Anchorage).

Lake Clark National Park

Richard Proenneke's cabin, Iliamna and Redoubt volcanoes, bear-viewing

17,000

Usually reached by small plane, 100 miles (1 hour flight) southwest of Anchorage.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Enormous caribou herds; controversy over drilling for oil

1,200 - 1,500

Small-plane access from Fairbanks to either Arctic Village or Kaktovik, then bush plane into the park itself

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Its size (largest national park in the US), mountaineering, volcanoes

80,000

One of few Alaska parks accessible by road (4-5 hours from Anchorage and Fairbanks). Two dirt roads lead into the park: Nabesna Road and McCarthy Road

Aniakchak National Monument

Its 2,500-foot-deep caldera, very low visitation

150

450 miles southwest of Anchorage, regular 1-hour flights from Anchorage to King Salmon

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Its intact Arctic ecosystem

11,000

Access by small plane from the gateway communities of Bettles and Anaktuvuk Pass. Both have daily flights from Fairbanks

Kobuk Valley National Park

Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Kobuk River, aurora borealis viewing

--

Charter an air taxi from Fairbanks to the two nearest communities: Kotzebue and Bettles


Important note about travel in Alaska's parks and wilderness areas: These lands are truly wild and usually very remote; in some parks, it's possible to travel for many days and never see another human being. Always approach travel here from the mindset that you're completely on your own. You'll have no cell service, and in areas with tall mountains, satellite phone service isn't completely reliable either. There are usually no established services, trails or facilities in these parks, and access is almost always by boat or small plane only (there are no roads, either!)

These are all excellent reasons to hire a guide service so you can experience Alaska's wildest areas comfortably and safely. Only consider taking a trip on your own if you have the appropriate gear, skill set and experience to handle backcountry travel, navigation and survival in Alaska's very challenging terrain and weather. Keep in mind that in the most remote places, rescue is never guaranteed, and if it does come it can take quite a while, so you should always think in terms of being completely self-sufficient.

Despite the remoteness of Alaska's parks, you might occasionally encounter private land dotted with camps or cabins, often sites for subsistence activities like hunting or processing fish. Respect these private areas and steer clear of them, even if they appear to be unoccupied.

Finally, never plan a trip based solely on the information given in a guidebook (including this one!) Conditions, routes and access all change rapidly in the Alaska wilderness. You alone are responsible for thorough preparation and making decisions, both beforehand and on the spot, to ensure your safety.