Wood-Tikchik State Park
With the distinction of the largest state park in the nation, this park in Southwest Alaska is renowned for float trips and fishing.
At 1.6 million acres, Wood-Tikchik State Park is not just Alaska's largest state park, it’s the largest in the United States. 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.
THINGS TO DO
Wood-Tikchik State Park is an ideal place for wilderness canoe or kayak trips 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. Boaters typically 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 and takes 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 access. But, the area's mountains, pinnacle peaks, and hanging valleys surrounding the lakes are impressive, and there is less 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.
Fishing is another popular activity in the park, home to excellent fishing for arctic char, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, all five species of Pacific salmon, and northern pike. The best spots for fishing are the Agulowak and Agulukpak Rivers. Anglers can fish these shallow, clear rivers independently or as part of a guided fishing trip with one of the remote fishing lodges located in the park.
Wildlife in the park includes brown and black bears, beavers, moose, foxes, and wolves. Birds nesting in the area include a wide variety of waterfowl, gulls, eagles, arctic tern, loons, sandpipers, and grouse.
Named for two large, clear-water lakes, Wood-Tikchik State Park 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.
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 and preserving continued subsistence and recreational activities. The management philosophy is one of non-development and maintenance of the area's wilderness character.
FACILITIES AND CAMPING
A designated campground with picnic tables, an outhouse, and ranger station is located at Agulukpak River Campground on the south side of Lake Beverly. Just outside the park is Lake Aleknagik State Recreation Site, accessible by road from Dillingham and Aleknagik, with a picnic area, outhouse, boat launch, and ranger station. Along the lakes and rivers are several designated backcountry campsites, and the entire park is open to camping. There are several privately-owned fishing lodges within the park.
Water access to the Wood River Lakes is from Dillingham via the Wood River or from Lake Alegnagik State Recreation Site in the village of Aleknagik, 24 miles north of Dillingham by road. Most people fly in to one of the five lakes along the Wood River Lakes system and boat out to Aleknagik or Dillingham.
Access to the Tikchik Lakes is primarily by aircraft. Parties exit the Tikchik Lakes by air, or float and/or paddle, to any one of several Alaska Native villages on the Nushagak River, where air charter is available for transport back to Dillingham. Extreme caution is recommended when approaching the upper Nuyakuk River rapids and falls, just below Tikchik Lake outlet. Portage is advised.
For more information, visit the Wood-Tikchik State Park website.
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