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 nearby Eklutna Lake, a playground for outdoor recreationalists.
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. Here the where the 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.
Located 26 miles northeast of Anchorage, Eklutna Lake is a scenic valley that is part of Chugach State Park
. The year-round recreation area features a beautiful campground, hiking trails and opportunities for mountain biking, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. The seven-mile long Eklutna Lake was created after Eklutna Glacier retreated and mountain streams filled the valley it left behind. A remnant of the glacier can still be seen today.
Eklutna Village Historical Park
One of the most interesting anthropological sites in Alaska is preserved at Eklutna Village Historical Park. Here the where the Athabascan and Russian Orthodox cultures are enshrined within St Nicholas Church, outdoor altars and the 80 brightly colored spirit boxes located in a Denaina Athabascan cemetery. Native Alaskans provide tours of the park for an insight into their culture.
Thunderbird Falls is a gorgeous little waterfall and the grand finale awaiting visitors who hike the easy, 2-mile Thunder Falls Trail. The trailhead is well posted and reached from the Thunderbird Falls exit at Mile 25 of the Glenn Hwy.