Budget backcountry adventures
There are numerous public campgrounds operated by Alaska State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and landholders along Alaska’s road system and in remote locations. These include campgrounds with boat launches, picnic areas and day-use facilities. Public campgrounds typically come equipped with picnic tables, fire pits, litter barrels and outhouses, and some include dump stations and water for RVs. Others are more basic, featuring simple sites for tent camping and not a lot more. Some campgrounds offer firewood for purchase. Amenities that visitors should not expect are showers, washers and dryers and hot water, although some private campgrounds may have some or all of these amenities available. It is advised to do research ahead of time if you need specific amenities like as running water and power. Very few public campgrounds offer the option to reserve a campsite so be sure to arrive early, particularly during peak season and national holidays. Comprehensive information about public lands statewide is available through the Alaska Public Lands Information Center.
Unlike campgrounds, public-use cabins often require some effort to get to. Whether accessible only by boat or plane or at the end of a trail, public-use cabins provide visitors and residents a cherished opportunity to experience true wilderness solitude for a fraction of the cost compared to luxury backcountry lodges.
Between Alaska State Parks, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, there are hundreds of public-use cabins in Alaska. Most are located along popular hiking trails as well as on the shores of the North Pacific Ocean or remote lakes and streams. While most cabins are accessible year round, access will often depend on the time of year you wish to visit. There are only a few cabins accessible by road, and hikers should always prepare thoroughly for backcountry travel and emergency shelter in case they are unable to reach the cabin. Public-use cabins sleep anywhere from three to eight people and almost all of them are equipped with wooden sleeping platforms, a stove for heating, a table, chairs or benches and a nearby outhouse. Most cabins are located near a water source, and you should always bring water-purifying supplies when you are traveling to remote locations within Alaska.
Cabins can usually only be reserved for a limited number of nights ranging anywhere from one to seven consecutive nights. Cabins can be reserved online several months in advance, and reservations are required. For more remote locations, access can be arranged via a charter flight or water taxi service from the nearest community.
For more information about booking a public-use cabin in Alaska, visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Center online at www.alaskacenters.gov or check out the resources available here.