Boondocking in Alaska

Top Campgrounds

Alaska is a boondocker’s dream—wild and rugged, it boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Whether you’re in the mood to sleep deep in the forest or perched on a hillside overlooking a glacier, the varied landscape delivers. Fall asleep to the sound of the ocean, or wake up to views of snowcapped mountains. Nearly 47% of the state is uninhabited, and the total population is less than 750,000 people; if solitude is what you seek, boondocking Alaska is an exciting adventure. More than half of Alaska consists of public lands, so you can find free dry campsites near Denali, the Kenai Fjords, Glacier Bay, and other wilderness areas.

A river runs through a dense, green forest past rocky, snowcapped mountains that are part of the Chugach Alaska Range.

Boondocking Sites in Alaska

Tustumena Lake Dispersed Camping Area

If you’re just getting started boondocking in Alaska, the Tustumena Lake dispersed camping area is a good place to ease in. It’s easy to reach, limited cell service is available, and you’re likely to see at least one other camper. To get there, take Highway 1 15 miles south from Soldotna and turn east on Johnson Lake Road; after about .5 miles, turn left on Tustumena Lake Road and drive 6 miles to reach the campground. This campground makes a great home base while you explore Cook Inlet, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Skilak Lake, and Kachemak Bay.

Deadman Lake Campground

With four RV-friendly campsites that fit rigs up to 40 feet long, Deadman Lake Campground is a lovely place to experience the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. It’s open from late April to October, and it offers a boat ramp and access to a short hiking trail. The tiny community of Northway Junction, which has a gas station, sits 15 miles to the northwest.

Upper Trail Lake Pullout

Sleep near Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park at the free Upper Trail Lake dispersed camping pullout about 1 mile north of Moose Pass. It’s a simple gravel pullout, but there’s plenty of space, fire pits, a strong cell signal, and spectacular views of Upper Trail Lake. The popular Exit Glacier hike is approximately 34 miles away.

Susitna River Dispersed Camping Area

The popular Susitna River dispersed camping area sits near Mile 104 on Highway 3, about 20 miles from Talkeetna. When it comes to free camping in Alaska, this spot is about as busy as it gets. During holiday weekends, it can be slightly noisy; the rest of the year, it offers beautiful views of the river and a manageable drive to Denali National Park.

Lower Skilak Lake Campground

Explore the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge from your free campsite at the Lower Skilak Lake Campground. With 14 sites, drinking water, and a boat launch, this spot offers plenty of amenities. The town of Sterling sits 13 miles west.

Kelly Lake Campground

Kelly Lake Campground is tiny, but it has plenty to offer. It’s just a few minutes’ drive south of Highway 1, about 14 miles east of Sterling. From camp, you can hike .5 miles to the Kelly Lake cabin or hop on the 4.4-mile (one way) Seven Lakes Trail for stunning views of the mountains and lakes. The free campground offers a boat launch, drinking water, toilets, and opportunities to fish for rainbow trout.

Galbraith Lake Campground

If you’re hoping to visit the Atigun Gorge, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, head straight to Galbraith Lake Campground. Run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it offers 30 free campsites. You’ll need to drive the legendary Dalton Highway to reach this spot, which sits north of the Arctic Circle. Cell service is nonexistent, so it’s crucial to have extra supplies and a satellite connection. The closest towns are Coldfoot, which lies 104 miles south, and Deadhorse, which is 145 miles north.

Where to Boondock in Alaska

The majority of Alaska’s boondocking sites sit near the state’s biggest cities and destinations. The Kenai Peninsula is a popular dry-camping area, largely because it’s home to Kenai Fjords National Park, Kachemak Bay State Park, and Chugach State Park. Portage Glacier Road, which is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Alaska, has a high concentration of free campsites for boondockers. You’ll also find sites near Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska’s two largest cities. Between the two, a scattering of sites offers access to Denali National Park. If you’re wondering where to boondock in Alaska for off-the-beaten path camping, look to the mountainous region near the eastern edge of the state near Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Free Camping in Alaska

Alaska is a top destination for adventurers and off-grid enthusiasts. With its sparse population and incredible wilderness, the opportunities are endless. That seclusion, coupled with the long distances between cities, means that you need to take extra precautions. Make sure your RV is stocked with extra food, water, and first-aid supplies. It’s a good idea to map out the distances between gas stations, and always bring an extra container of gas. Many roads can be rough, so you’ll need repair supplies and a spare tire; a membership to a roadside assistance program can be a lifesaver.

Cell service is one of the most important considerations when you’re boondocking Alaska. Many areas have limited or no coverage, so satellite phone and internet service can help you stay safe and in touch. If you need recommendations for the best dispersed campsites in any part of Alaska, head to the nearest visitor center for recommendations and advice about the local road conditions.

Boondocking in Alaska brings beautiful views and exciting hiking opportunities. If you don’t have an RV or you want to reduce time on the road, consider flying to Alaska and renting an RV with RVshare. That way, you can get to a free campsite quickly and make the most of your time in the wilderness.