The Ultimate Guide to RV Camping in Alaska

Travel Inspiration

A trip to Alaska is an amazing adventure that every explorer should have on their bucket list. Of course, seeing the state in an RV takes the experience to a whole new level. In an RV, you’re able to stay in the most beautiful parts of the state and really connect with the awesomeness that is Alaskan nature. 

All that said, you will want some sort of guide to help you plan your Alaskan RVing adventure. That’s where this article comes into play. Here, we will share all of our favorite things to do and places to stay. Read on to learn everything you need to know to plan an amazing trip to Alaska in your RV!

Preparing for RV Camping

First on the agenda, preparing for your RV camping trip. If you don’t own an RV already, you’ll have to rent one. On top of that, you’ll have to pack the RV, and you’ll definitely want to make sure you have everything you need before you head into the Alaskan wilderness. 

Choosing the Right RV for Your Needs

First, let’s discuss how to find the perfect RV for you and your travel party. Deciding whether you prefer to drive the RV yourself or have it delivered is the first step in this process. If you want to drive the RV, you’ll also have to decide if you want a driveable rig or something you tow—and clearly, if you plan to tow, you’ll need to make sure you own a vehicle capable of towing a trailer. 

Once all of that is figured out, it’s just a matter of finding a rig that is within your budget and also offers the floor plan and amenities that you need. 

Note: It’s good to keep in mind that big rigs can’t fit in many of Alaska’s campgrounds. For this reason, smaller tends to be better for trips to Alaska.

Packing Essentials for a Successful Trip

Wondering what to pack on an RV trip to Alaska? You are not alone. Packing an RV can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before.

A very basic packing list should consist of things like:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray and sunscreen 
  • Tools
  • Entertainment (books, games, movies, toys for kids)
  • Outdoor recreation gear
  • Electronics and chargers
  • Pots, pans, and dishes
  • Paper towels
  • Groceries
  • Flashlights
  • Folding chairs
  • Bed sheets
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Pet gear
  • RV leveling blocks
  • Sewer hose and adapter
  • Freshwater hose
  • RV surge protector

Of course, you’ll also need weather-appropriate clothing. In Alaska, this means packing plenty of layers, even during the summer months. 

Want a more in-depth list of things you should pack for an RV camping trip? We’ve got you covered with this awesome RV packing list!

Sun shining in Alaska

Considerations for Camping in Alaska

RV camping in Alaska is different in a lot of ways from RV camping in most other states. For one thing, because of the weather in Alaska, the camping season is quite short. And since it is impossible to reach Alaska by vehicle without driving thousands of miles through Canada first, you will want to plan very carefully to ensure you are in Alaska when the weather is decent, and then leaving before it gets too cold. 

On top of all that, it’s good to know the state laws surrounding RVs. In Alaska, the total length of any rig should not exceed 65 feet and the width of an RV should never be more than 8.5 feet. Triple towing is allowed in the state, but you will need a breakaway switch on any towed trailer over 3,000 pounds. 

Finding Campgrounds

Now that you know when to visit Alaska and the state laws you’ll need to abide by, the next step is finding the perfect campground or campgrounds to visit during your time in the Last Frontier.

In this section, we will discuss some of our favorite options. Whether you prefer glamping, urban camping, boondocking, or some other sort of Alaska campground, we can help you find the perfect home base for your trip. 

Exploring Public Campgrounds in Alaska

First, let’s look at the public campground options in the state. These include things like national parks campgrounds, national forest campgrounds, state park campgrounds, and campsites on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. 

National Park Camping

Alaska is home to 8 stunning national parks. These include:

Of these, only Denali, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell-St Elias can be reached by car, and only Denali and Wrangell-St Elias offer RV campsites. We do highly recommend camping in both of these parks though, and we recommend seeing as many of the other Alaska national parks as you can. You won’t be disappointed!

National Forest Camping

One alternative to camping in Alaska’s national parks is to find a campsite just outside of the park in one of the state’s many gorgeous national forests. These forests play host to some developed campgrounds, as well as plenty of boondocking spots. 

Some of our favorite NFS campgrounds include Russian River Campground located in Cooper Landing outside of Kenai Fjord, and Porcupine Campground outside of Anchorage. 

State Park Camping

Yet another fantastic option is the state park camping in Alaska. The state is home to a huge number of amazing state parks that are well worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for awesome RV camping. 

Our favorites? We’d have to vote for Chilkat State Park for its beauty and Denali State Park for its location right by Denali National Park. 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping

In Alaska, there is quite a bit of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. This government maintained land often plays host to campgrounds and offers free dry camping opportunities to RVers. We love BLM camping, especially when we’re trying to save money.

Wickersham Creek Trail outside of Fairbanks offers some great dispersed camping, and Sourdough Creek Campground near the Swede Lake Trail offers nice designated campsites. 

Exploring Private Campgrounds and RV Parks

Public camping in Alaska is pretty great, but there are also some wonderful private campgrounds in the state. Glamping is available in some places, and almost all private campgrounds offer amenities such as electric hookups, restrooms with showers, and dump stations

Alaska Angler RV Resort is perfect for those who love fishing. Meanwhile, Eagle’s Rest Campground offers a luxury camping experience in the middle of Alaska’s natural beauty.

Boondocking in Alaska

Last but not least, there is the option of boondocking in Alaska. This is actually our favorite way to camp when visiting this incredible state because the place is so full of natural beauty and incredible boondocking campsites. 

Some of our favorite boondocking campsites in Alaska include Upper Trail Lake Pullout near Kenai Fjords, Susitna River Dispersed Camping Area for daytripping into Denali, and Tustumena Lake Dispersed Camping Area for an easy-to-reach spot. 

Researching Campground Options and Making Reservations

The info and links above should help you start your research on Alaska campgrounds. That said, if you want to do even more research, there are plenty of other websites that can help. Not only that, but many websites will also allow you to book campsites online once you’ve found one that suits your needs. 

Campspot is a great place to start. We also love BookOutdoors, RoverPass, and The Dyrt for general campgrounds research. Hipcamp and Harvest Hosts are great places to look for unique stays that are sure to be memorable, and KOA and Jellystone are both fantastic campground chains that cater to families. 

Road in Alaska

Planning Your Itinerary

With a campground booked and an RV chosen, the next thing on your to-do list is to plan an itinerary. Fortunately, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in the state, and whether you choose to explore one of the many adorable towns or head to one of the many natural areas, you’re sure to have an amazing time. 

Features and Attractions in Alaska

One of the best ways to see Alaska? Take a drive on one of the state’s scenic byways. Of course, you’ll also want to plan stops at the most iconic landmarks throughout the state,  including the Prudhoe Bay General Store, Salty Dawg Saloon, and of course, North Pole . 

To immerse yourself in even more of the real Alaska, be sure to visit the many NPS sites scattered throughout the state. These include the aforementioned national parks, but also many historical parks, monuments, and more. We especially love Sitka National Historical Park

Festivals, Fairs, and Events in Alaska

If you can, you might also try to plan your trip around one of Alaska’s annual events. The Alaska State Fair is a lot of fun, and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival is fantastic. We also highly recommend the Summer Solstice Festival in Anchorage!

Exploring Outdoor Activities

As mentioned above, Alaska has some seriously incredible natural areas. Therefore, it really only makes sense to add some outdoor activities to your plan. From hiking to fishing, you’re sure to find an activity that suits your fancy, and the amazing wildlife viewing found around every corner is a definite bonus. 

Hiking, Biking and Nature Trails

Trails are plentiful throughout Alaska, making it an ideal place for hiking, trail running, and even biking. We highly recommend exploring some of Alaska’s trails while visiting the state, as this gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the amazing nature found around every corner. 

Some of the best hikes in Alaska include: 

Looking for biking trails? You might try one of these:

Fishing, Boating, and Water Activities

Water is plentiful throughout Alaska. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are lots of water-related activities for visitors to enjoy. 

We highly recommend taking a kayak if at all possible, as there are many great kayaking opportunities across the state. Not many places have better fishing than Alaska, so taking your fishing gear is another must. We also recommend seeking out the amazing waterfalls and beaches across the state. 

Wildlife Viewing and Photography

Of course, you will want to do some wildlife viewing. In fact, it’s kind of hard NOT to do wildlife viewing while in Alaska. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles (some say there are nearly as many eagles in the Juneau area as there are people!), and remember to keep an eye out for bears and moose. 

Because wildlife is so plentiful, you will want to pack binoculars and keep them on hand at all times. You never know when you might need to get a closer look!

Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions

Heading to Alaska with kids? You’ll find a number of fantastic things to do with them. Whether you’re exploring Anchorage, checking out Fairbanks, learning in a museum, or having a great time at an amusement park, you and your family are going to treasure your time in Alaska for the rest of your lives. 

Historical Sites and Museums

Squeeze a little bit of education into your getaway by taking the kids to one of the many historical sites in Alaska. The history of the state is incredibly interesting, and you and your family are sure to enjoy learning all about it at places like Sitka National Historical Park and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area

Museums are another great way to add some learning to your travels. Some of the best museums in Alaska include the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Aviation Museum, Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Fairbanks Ice Museum. 

Amusement Park, Zoos, and Wildlife Refuges

Amusement parks are always a great way to have a good time with family, and believe it or not, there are some good amusement parks in Alaska. Our favorite is the H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark, which features all kinds of slides and other water fun for families. 

Zoos and wildlife refuges are also a lot of fun and provide opportunities for the kids to get close to animals they may not be able to see otherwise. The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage is one great choice for this. Another is the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. 

Bear in Alaska

Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Alaska

Obviously, safety should always come first. There are a few things you should know before you head to Alaska in order to be as safe as possible. Heed these simple warnings and you should be just fine!

Weather Conditions and Natural Disaster Preparedness

As mentioned before, Alaska is very, very cold for a good part of the year. On top of that, certain parts of Alaska never really get that warm even during the summer. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to temperature forecasts before heading out on outdoor adventures, and always pack an emergency blanket and other items that can keep you warm overnight if need be. 

Besides the cold, Alaska is also very rugged—hence the name, “The Last Frontier.” What does this mean for you? It means there are some places that cannot be reached by road, and necessities are not always easily available. For this reason, you will want to make sure to keep plenty of food and water on hand, pack a first aid kit, and always go to remote and potentially dangerous areas with a high-quality guide.  

Wildlife Encounters and Precautions

It’s a well known fact that Alaska is home to all kinds of incredible wildlife. Here you’ll find bears, moose, reindeer, otters, and more. 

These animals are tons of fun to observe in their natural habitat, but it’s very important that you give them their distance. Never approach, touch, or feed a wild animal, and always, always put food away. Bears have been known to break into cars for food, so even leaving it in your vehicle may not be enough. 

It’s also a good idea to make plenty of noise when hiking (to warn bears that you are there), and carry bear spray and make sure you know how to use it should you need to!

As you can see, Alaska is a totally awesome RV camping destination. We’re guessing this guide gave you plenty to think about during the planning process, but in case you need more inspiration, we’ve included some links below. 

More Inspiration for Your Alaska Travels: