Eklutna is an Alaska Native village of about 70 residents that is within the boundaries of the Municipality of Anchorage in Southcentral Alaska. The area is best known for its iconic cemetery and the nearby Eklutna Lake, a playground for outdoor recreationalists.
ABOUT EKLUTNA (DENA'INA ATHABASCAN: IDLUGHET)
Eklutna is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the Municipality of Anchorage. Archaeological evidence suggests it is more than 800 years old, although the first non-Native settlers didn’t arrive until the 1840s. Those first settlers were Russian Orthodox missionaries, and their influence remains visible today at the Eklutna Historical Park Cemetery. In a blending of Dena’ina Athabascan and Russian Orthodox traditions, graves are covered with brightly painted spirit houses, providing shelter to the spirits of the dead.
THINGS TO DO
The nearby Eklutna Lake State Recreation Area is a recreational paradise, including more than 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, kayaking and canoeing opportunities, fishing, and a campground. Eklutna Lake is seven miles long and is the largest body of water in Chugach State Park. It is also incredibly scenic, framed by glaciers and the high peaks of the Chugach Mountains along its shoreline. Fat-tire bikes and kayaks can be rented at the campground during the summer, by the hour or by the day. The campground has 50 campsites (all first come, first serve), a group camping area, and three public use cabins that can be reserved in advance.
Closer to the Glenn Highway is Thunderbird Falls. A drive of only 0.3 miles from the highway, the falls is an easy mile-long hike to a viewing platform overlooking the waterfall tumbling into a small, rocky gorge.
One of the most interesting anthropological sites in Alaska is preserved at Eklutna Village Historical Park, where Athabascan and Russian Orthodox cultures are enshrined within St Nicholas Church, outdoor altars, and the 80 brightly colored Spirit Houses located in a Dena’ina Athabascan cemetery. Guided tours are available.
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