- Near Anchorage, the 5.6 million acre Chugach National Forest is the second largest national forest in the nation. The wooded mountains and crystal waters of the Kenai Peninsula, the islands and glaciers of Prince William Sound, and the wetlands and birds of the Copper River Delta make this national forest a mecca for adventurers.
There are few places today where glaciers still wage their ancient battle against the land. The Chugach National Forest is one of these places - a land of glacial diamonds set on a ring of fire. One-third of this majestic and rugged land is rock and moving ice. However, the slow, relentless force of glacial ice has not been the only land-shaping agent. Forces as quick and powerful as earthquakes, and as dramatic as volcanoes, have played a role in creating one of the most diverse landscapes in Alaska, if not America.
Whether you are an angler, hiker, hunter, skier, mountain biker or simply love to drive for pleasure, Alaska's Kenai Peninsula is a place of almost unlimited opportunities. Just 50 road miles southeast of Anchorage, the Chugach National Forest portion of the Kenai begins. Dramatic Portage Valley, the most visited recreation site in the state, is 55 miles southeast of Anchorage at the northeastern tip of the peninsula. The valley has exceptional icebergs, glaciers and wildlife.
In Prince William Sound, towering blue-white glaciers grind to the sea through spruce forests. Visitors come in kayaks, cruise ships, powerboats, sailboats, ferries and floatplanes to explore the sound's 3,500 miles of coastline.
The 700,000-acre delta of the Copper River is a unique wetlands ecosystem and the largest contiguous wetland on the west coast of the United States. Millions of waterfowl and shorebirds spend part of their lives on the Delta.
Recreation - More than 40 public-use cabins throughout the Chugach attract thousands of winter and summer backcountry travelers each year. The rustic cabins are found on trails, lakes, streams, ocean shorelines and in alpine areas. All cabins must be reserved. Check with a Forest Service office or the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage for more information.
More than 200 miles of forest trails provide pathways to enjoyable and scenic places for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog mushing and snowmobiling. Snowmobiles are permitted on some trails during designated winter periods. Many visitors stay in public use cabins along the trails. Most of the Forest's hiking trails are found on the Kenai Peninsula. The longest is the Resurrection trail system. There are also several beautiful trails in Prince William Sound and on the Copper River Delta.
Camping is permitted in backcountry areas throughout the Forest. There are 15 developed campgrounds on the Sterling and Seward Highways on the Kenai Peninsula. Water, toilets and garbage collection are provided at all campgrounds and some have more facilities.
Climate - Overcast and cool days are frequent in this maritime climate of abundant rain, but clear, hot days are not uncommon in July, the warmest month. Fall can be delightfully clear, but the season is short. Summer daytime temperatures range from the mid 40s to low 70s (F). Winters are cold, with temperatures dropping to 50 below zero. In the spring, clear skies, increasingly longer days and warming temperatures break winter's hold on the land with dramatic quickness. Throughout the year, the weather can change quickly, so it is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be layered, ready to peel off or add as conditions dictate.
The Chugach National Forest is located in south-central Alaska, south and east of Anchorage, around Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula. The Forest headquarters and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center are located in Anchorage. The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is located in Girdwood at the Portage Valley. The Forest has District offices in Seward, Cordova and Girdwood.