Many of us would never consider camping in Alaska. Considered to be one of the still wild places on Earth it can seem daunting. With the frigid temperatures, the wildlife, and the remoteness you may think to yourself why would I ever want to take my children out into this wilderness? However, challenging yourself and your family in such a remote wilderness can have its benefits and rewards. In fact, I think you will find that there is far more to Alaska than the scary bits. Alaska is so expansive and diverse in its camping opportunities. With so many options to choose from I have done the hard task of finding the best! So strap into your floatplane while we take a look at the Top 5 family campgrounds in Alaska!
5. Eklutna Lake Campground
The Eklutna Lake Campground starts off as our number 5 of the Top 5 Family Campgrounds in Alaska. This is an extremely popular campground with families due to its proximity to Anchorage and nearby highway access. There is quite a bit to do in the Chugach State Park. For instance, you can go hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing all on the same day! The major drawback to this campground is how popular it is and since only the group campsites can be reserved the sites go quickly! If you are able to get into a site on a busy weekend your family will have a blast. If you rush out to reserve your spot you will be rewarded with a calming atmosphere of campfire dinners and looming trees. Don’t forget to venture out though on the 11-mile lake trail!
Looking for something more adventurous? Well, there are kayaking rentals right on the lake so you can explore away from the water’s edge! No to mention that this park is open year-round for camping. This means that beyond the summer adventures you can also enjoy cross-country skiing, dog mushing, snowshoeing, and other winter activities. The park even has a telescope for viewing wildlife! With so many options your family is sure to have a great time!
Eklutna Lake Campground Details
Number of Sites: 50 RV/Tent Sites with 15 Overflow campsites
*Cost: $20 per site / Parking – $5 / Group Campsites – $150 – $250 per night
Reservations: First come first served (Cabin/Group site Rentals)
Features: Limited Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Vault Toilets / Airport / Food Storage Locker
Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 6 am / Generator Use 8am – 10 am and 4pm – 8pm / Food and scented items must be kept in hard-sided vehicle or food storage lockers / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection
Activities: Bike Rentals / Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Ranger programs / Stargazing / Astrophotography / Canoeing / Fishing / Mountain Biking / Skiing / Sledding / Snowmobiling
4. Valdez KOA Journey
While there is a limited season at this campground your family is going to love the amenities that it provides. The Valdez KOA Journey is situated just outside of Valdez, Alaska. For us lower 48 folks, Valdez is a fantastic launching point for any Alaskan adventure. This KOA provides nearby access to hiking, biking, and fishing. Not to mention that that access comes with amenities that many families have come to expect from a KOA. These include full RV hookups, cabins, the easy tent, wi-fi, cable, and a snack bar. While for me camping isn’t about modern conveniences it is nice for families with a broody teen to allow some connection back to the modern world! That is what makes this number four on the Top 5 family campgrounds in Alaska.
While there are no longer hiking trails right on the 18 acres of the campground, you will have easy access to trails. Additionally, there are fishing, wildlife, and glacial excursions that you can book for your family at nearby outfitters. Many of the reviews that were found online hint at a welcoming and friendly staff that is willing to aid in your camping experience. The sites are clean and well maintained. With all of these great things right at your fingertips, you will be paying a bit more. Also, the campsites are close but that makes meeting friends that much easier! For an adventure from the lower 48, it would be an easy transition into the Alaskan frontier.
Valdez KOA Journey Campground Details
Number of Sites: Approximately 80 with additional cabins for rent
Season: May 18 – September 15 (Weather Dependent)
*Cost: From $65 and up dependent on site type, equipment, number of people
Reservations: Site / Cabin Rentals (Valdez KOA Journey)
Features: Electric Hookups / Wi-Fi / Limited Cell Reception / Propane / Dog Park / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Laundry / Playground / Tour Bookings/ Restrooms / Showers / Dump Station
Regulations: Check-In – 3pm & Check Out 11am / Quiet Hours 10pm – 7am / Food and scented items must be kept in hard-sided vehicle / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection
Activities: Bike Trails / Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Campfire programs / Stargazing / Astrophotography / Canoeing / Fishing / Mountain Biking / Access to Glacier Excursions, Whale watching, helicopter tours, museums, fishing guides
3. Chena Lake Recreation Area
The number three campground on the Top 5 Family Campgrounds in Alaska is the Chena Lake Recreation area. This campground is actually two campgrounds which are two of the best places in Alaska to view the northern lights. It provides clear skies with limited light pollution which leads to a stunning array of both the lights and the midnight sun! You can easily access this campground from Fairbanks to the north. It will provide a wonderful base camp for your outdoor activities. Not to mention since it is closer to Fairbanks you will have access to modern amenities for your family. There is a peak season here so it is important to make it to the campgrounds early to get a spot. The camping is limited to five nights consecutively, so keep that in mind.
Want to try something a little different? There are six tent sites that are boat access only! Think of how much fun you can have with your family by canoeing out to the site and setting up camp in a more secluded spot. In all, there are two campgrounds in this recreation area. There is so much to do as well. From boat rentals. fishing, hiking, and animal watching you will not run out of things to do with the family. For younger kids, there are also playgrounds to keep them occupied while dinner cooks on the fire! Don’t forget to pack that telescope so you can gaze at the stars or sit below the northern lights!
Chena Lake Recreation Area Details
Number of Sites: Lake Park – 45 RV or Tent Sites / River Park – 35 RV or Tent sites
Season: Summer (Limited maintenance/access in winter)
*Cost: Tents – $15 per night / RVs – $20 per night
Features: Limited Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash Collection / Playgrounds / Volleyball Courts / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Restrooms / Beach Access / Boat Launch
Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 6am / Food and scented items must be kept in hard-sided vehicle or food storage lockers / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No wood collection
Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Fishing / Stargazing / Astrophotography / Boat Rentals / Kayaking & Canoeing / Swimming Areas
2. Hidden Lake Campground
We are getting closer to number one on our list. First, let’s stop off at Hidden Lakes Campground which makes the number two spot on our Top 5 Family Campgrounds in Alaska. This campground is the largest located in the Kenai Peninsula and is within the boundaries of the Kenai Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the more popular campgrounds on the peninsula and offers paved access with wide, private campsites. You can view stunning scenery right from your site, or access the shores of Hidden Lake from the boat launch. There are ample areas to take your family out fishing on this lake or look for waterfowl. Not to mention some of the predefined canoe routes that you can find in the Reflections Visitor Guide!
This campground can be a fantastic base camp for other attractions around the peninsula. While the sites may lack some of the more developed amenities we have seen in the other campgrounds on the list, it makes up for it in access and views. With some sites right alongside the lake, you could be fishing in no time! There are no rangers on duty at these primitive sites, but this adds to the wild nature of your family camping trip. Resources are not far away though if you do need to venture for more food or water. A little further drive of about an hour and a half will put you at the visitor center to the Kenai Fjords National Park which is a true gem for glacier viewing.
Hidden Lake Campground Details
Number of Sites: 44 RV or Tent Sites (more sites available in the Refuge)
Season: Open year-round – Fees collected Mid May to Labor day
*Cost: $10 per night
Features: Limited or No Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash Collection / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Restrooms / Boat Launch / Large private sites / Dump station
Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 6am / Generators 8am – 9pm / Food and scented items must be kept in hard-sided vehicle or food storage lockers / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No wood collection
Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Fishing / Stargazing / Astrophotography / Kayaking & Canoeing / Swimming / Viewing Dock
1. Denali National Park’s Savage River Campground
There are many options to choose from in Denali National Park like Igloo Creek, Riley Creek, or Teklanika. The Savage River Campground has to be the best one for families to bunk down in. The fact is that there is really no bad camping in Denali and with many options for different experience levels you can always find something. However, based on reviews online we have found that Denali’s Savage River Campground is number one in our Top 5 Family Campgrounds in Alaska. This is because it is somewhat secluded but you are still within reach of common amenities like hiking trails and ranger resources. Not to mention you are able to see the crowning jewel of the park!
The campground itself is located well within the park (mile marker 14), but it is still accessible by vehicle. Once at your campsite, you will have access to numerous trails right from the campground or within driving/shuttle distance. Not to mention that this easy access means that you can head to camp stores and food if you don’t feel like cooking after a long day on the trail.
So enjoy your lack of cell service, gather round the campfire, and enjoy the peaceful sound of the water coursing down the river.
Savage River Campground Details
Number of Sites: 32 RV/Tent Sites with 3 Group Sites
Season: Summer (May – September)
*Cost: Large RV site – $39.75 (max 40ft) / Small RV or Tent Site – $32.25 / Group Site – $49.00
Reservations: Not required but strongly recommended (https://www.reservedenali.com/)
Features: No Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Food Storage Lockers / Staff on-site / Amphitheater / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Flush and Vault Toilets / Vehicle Access to Riley Creek Mercantile
Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 6 am / Generator Use 8am – 10 am and 4pm – 8pm / Food and scented items must be kept in hard sided vehicle or food storage lockers / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No wood collection
Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Ranger programs / Jr. Ranger Program / Stargazing / Astrophotography
*Costs and other information shown on this page are at the time of research and are subject to change. Please check linked reservation tools or contact facilities directly for the most up-to-date prices, availability, and site regulations/information.