Some of the Most Spectacular Alaska State Parks
With its towering mountains, glacier valleys, and abundant Alaska wildlife, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley is home to some of the most spectacular Alaska state parks. This region sprawls across 23,000 square miles of wilderness and attracts adventurous travelers from around the world. Whether you’re planning to visit in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, Alaska state parks offer a wide range of activities year-round. Here are some of our favorite places to explore.
Top 4 Alaska State Parks
1. Denali State Park
Denali State Park was established in 1970 and is located halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It’s 325,240 acres provide visitors with a wide variety of recreational opportunities, from roadside camping to wilderness exploration. Moose, wolves, grizzly and black bears, and other animals can be seen meandering through the varied landscape.
Denali State Park is adjacent to Denali National Park where you’ll find North America’s highest peak: Denali. (Formerly known as Mt. McKinley.) At 20,320 feet, this mountain literally towers over Southcentral Alaska. If climbing Denali is on your bucket list, read our blog to find out where to start.
2. Independence Mine State Historical Park
Located within Hatcher Pass Management Area is Independence Mine State Historical Park, a former gold mining camp that was one of the largest in Alaska. Workers recovered 140,000 ounces of gold here before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. Independence Mine was designated a state historical site in 1982, and today, visitors can take self-guided tours, check out an interpretive museum, and even pan for gold.
3. Summit Lake State Recreation Site
This 360-acre park is located off Hatcher Pass Road, just two miles from Independence Mine State Historical Park. Summit Lake once served as the beginning of an alpine glacier, and the surrounding terrain is all glacially carved. Visitors can follow a trail around the lake for incredible views of the Susitna Valley and the Alaska Range.
Above Summit Lake is April Bowl, a small valley with a lake and several small ponds. This area is a popular destination for backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter. Tip: Avalanches occur regularly on the steep slopes of this area – please use extreme caution when visiting Summit Lake State Recreation Site.
4. Nancy Lake State Recreation Area
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is different from most Alaska state parks; it’s one of the few flat, lake-studded landscapes that’s been preserved for recreation purposes. The area’s clear waters are surrounded by unspoiled forests and provide a tranquil setting for canoeing, fishing, hiking, and camping. In the winter, the rolling topography is ideal for cross-country skiing and snow machining. Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is a 90-minute drive north of Anchorage along Parks Highway.
Book Your Stay at Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages
For the perfect home base near Alaska state parks, look no further than Alaska Garden Gate in Palmer. We offer private guest cottages, luxury apartments, and economical inn rooms to satisfy every kind of traveler. Many of our accommodations feature stunning mountain views, and each comes with a hearty buffet breakfast in the summer and a continental breakfast in the winter. Visit our accommodations page to see what’s available and contact us today to make your reservations! We look forward to having you.
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