The forest preserve now known as Chugach National Forest was created initially by Russia, which owned the land. The 6,908,540-acre area became one of the first United States national forests in 1892. This national forest, which is the furthest north and west in the United States, contains North America’s largest contiguous wetlands complex along the Pacific coast, and ice covers approximately 30% of the area. Despite covering nearly 7 million acres, there are only 90 miles of maintained forest roads here. Chugach National Forest is located about 220 miles southeast of Denali National Park and reaches south to Seward, which is the gateway city to Kenai Fjords National Park. Officially, this national forest contains three sections with district headquarters at Seward, Girdwood, and Cordova, Alaska.
A great way to explore Chugach National Forest is in an RV because you can drive to see the different sections, and Seward Highway runs through the middle of it, so getting around is very easy. If you do not have your own RV, rent one on RVshare.com.
Bertha Creek Campground near Girdwood, Alaska, offers 12 sites located around a tent and RV camping loop. Vault toilets and hand-pumped water are available at this campground. Rates start at $14 per night in the late spring and summer, but the sites are free in the fall, winter, and early spring. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Hand-pumped water, vault toilet, launching location for float trips
Cooper Creek Campground near Soldotna, Alaska, contains north and south loops. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, rates start at $18 per night, but you can stay for free during the remainder of the year. Salmon fishing on the Kenai River is a popular activity near the campground. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Drinking water (in summer months), vault toilets, fishing
Granite Creek Campground has 18 sites situated along a loop. This campground located along the Seward Highway is approximately 64 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska. Camping is free, except during the summer when rates start at $14 per night. Most of the sites sit along Sixmile Creek, which is a fantastic place to go whitewater rafting. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Hand-pumped water (in summer), vault toilet, fishing
Quartz Creek Campground sits on Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing, Alaska. Summer rates start at $18 per night, but there are no fees to camp the rest of the year. The nearby lake is a popular place to boat, and there is a boat ramp available. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Running water (in summer), summer-only flush toilet, lake
Follow the Saddlebag Glacier Trail near Cordova, Alaska, through a glaciated valley to Saddlebag Lake. There, you can often see icebergs near the lake’s mouth and mountain goats grazing on the nearby hills.
Length: 3.6 miles
Start this trail located near Cordova, Alaska, in a spruce-hemlock forest before hiking along a stream that has boardwalks in many low-lying areas. The trail carries hikers to the top of a ridge with scenic views of the Sheridan and Sherman glaciers and the Copper River Delta.
Length: 2.8 miles
Climb up and down switchbacks in the Kenai Mountains on the Hope Point Trail. It gains 2,338 feet in elevation, making it a fairly difficult climb.
Length: 3.5 miles
This ridge trail near Cordova, Alaska, provides stunning views of Prince William Sound, Eyak Lake, the Copper River Delta, and the Chugach Mountains. Additionally, you may see bears and other wildlife along its entire length.
Length: 6.6 miles
Hike through dense spruce-hemlock forest on this trail that will test your water-crossing skills; it crosses Martin Creek, Boulder Creek, and Upper Summit Creek.
Length: 17 miles
Intensity: Very Difficult
Pass along the shores of several glacier lakes on this trail that runs along the east side of Scotts Valley.
Length: 6 miles
The first 3 miles of this trail pass through gentle valleys covered in birch and hemlock. The last 7 miles are an uphill climb through the narrow Devil’s Valley Canyon.
Length: 10 miles
Red salmon fishing draws crowds to this national forest beginning in early June and lasting through late July. The best place to try red salmon fishing is at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai rivers. Until September, anglers can also catch silver and coho salmon. Juneau Lake is the perfect place to go fishing for rainbow trout, whitefish, burbot, and grayling. Anglers also love fishing for rainbow trout in Swan, Meridian, Vagt, Leech, and Long Lakes. Trout Lake is another great spot to go fishing for rainbow trout and whitefish. Finally, Juneau Creek is a good place to fish for rainbow trout and grayling as well as Dolly Varden trout.
Follow the Winner Creek Gorge Trail near Girdwood, Alaska, and you will find one of the few geocaches hidden in this national forest.
The Copper River Delta provides nesting, staging, and stopover points for more than 50 species of shorebirds, including five types of geese. Twenty-nine species of birds, including ring-neck ducks and the common crane, live in the forest during the winter. There are more eagles in this forest than in the lower 48 states combined. This location is the only national forest where you can see Dall sheep. Still, there are many other animals that you may see, including coyotes, timber wolves, moose, caribou, marten, and Sitka black-tailed deer.
The remoteness of this national forest makes it an ideal spot to go stargazing. Since the sun barely peeks over the horizon from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the winter months, there is plenty of time to enjoy the night sky. This forest can be a fantastic spot to see the aurora borealis from September to April.
Address: This park maintains three district headquarters: Glacier Ranger District Address: 145 Forest Station Road, Girdwood, AK 99587 Seward Ranger District Address: 33599 Ranger Station Spur, Seward, AK 99664 Cordova Ranger District Address: 612 Second Street, Cordova, AK 99574
Fee: Entry fee $0
Over 500 miles of hiking trails are available at Chugach National Forest, which starts about 80 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway. This forest located just south of Chugach State Park is a fantastic place to go fishing, especially for the five salmon types that live here seasonally. It is the only national forest where you can spot Dall sheep and one of only a few where you can see glaciers. An RV allows you to see all that this forest offers.