With this distinction of the largest state park in the nation, this park is renowned for river rafting adventures
At 1.6 million acres, Wood-Tikchik State Park is not just Alaska's largest state park, it’s the nation’s largest. Located 30 miles north of Dillingham, the park preserves two large systems of interconnecting lakes that are the important spawning grounds for Bristol Bay's salmon.
The largest state park in the nation, at 1.6 million acres, Wood-Tikchik State Park was created in 1978 for the purpose of protecting the area's fish and wildlife breeding and support systems and preserving continued subsistence and recreational activities. The management philosophy is one of non-development and maintenance of the area's wilderness character.
Named for those two large, clear-water lakes, Wood-Tikchik features lakes that range in length from 15 to 45 miles. Spired peaks, high alpine valleys, and deep v-shaped arms give the lakes' western reaches a spectacular fjord-like appearance. The eastern edges of the lakes look out upon islands, gravel beaches, and the expansive tundra of the Nushagak lowlands.
Wildlife in the park includes brown and black bears, beavers, moose, foxes and wolves. The fishing for arctic char, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, salmon and northern pike is excellent. All five species of Pacific salmon spawn in the park. Birds nesting in the area include a wide variety of waterfowl, gulls, eagles, arctic tern, loons, sandpipers and grouse. Numerous transients pass through as well.
Wood-Tikchik is an ideal place for a wilderness canoe or kayak trip and several companies in Dillingham rent inflatable kayaks, rafts or canoes. In the park's southern half are the Wood River lakes, which are connected by shallow, swiftly moving rivers. Many parties arrange to be flown in and paddle out, returning to Dillingham via the Wood River. From a put-in on Lake Kulik, a paddle to Dillingham is close to 140 miles requiring from 10 to 14 days.
The Tikchik lakes, six lakes in the park's northern half, are much more remote than the Wood River lakes. The upper lakes are more challenging and more costly to experience. But the scenery – mountains, pinnacle peaks and hanging valleys surrounding the lakes – is impressive, and there will be far less motorboat activity. Kayaking is popular on these lakes, and those interested in river floating can get dropped off on Nishlik or Upnuk lakes and travel along the Tikchik River into Tikchik Lake.