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Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation

Park Condition Reports

Last Update: September 18, 2020

Tors Trail

Alaska State Parks (ASP) is taking the risks presented by COVID-19 seriously. Given the rapidly changing situation, Alaska State Parks is assessing each facility, staffing, and the ability to properly sanitize facilities according to CDC guidelines. Social distancing measures and facility closures may be necessary to preserve the health and welfare of Alaska State Park employees, partners, cooperators, our families, and the local communities in which we live.

Latest News Releases

Director's Orders Regarding Various State Park Fees

Parking, Camping, Boat Launch, Historic Site Access, Programs, Sanitation, and Firewood
Fees for Public Use Cabins
Fees for Reserved Use of Park Facilities
Fees for Special Use Permits
Fees for Non-Competitive Commercial Use Permits

Albert Loop Trail at Eagle River Nature Center is temporarily closed

August 17, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Bears have returned to the area around Eagle River Nature Center to feed on spawning salmon. As a result, Alaska State Parks is closing the Albert Loop Trail and its vicinity, effective at 9:00 am TUES August 18. Black and brown bears use the bridges and beaver dams as fishing platforms and remain close to developed areas.

This closure does not affect the Iditarod/Crow Pass trail, the Rodak Loop and viewing platforms, or the Dew Mound Trail. Reopening of the Albert Loop trail will be announced and most likely will happen at freeze-up when most bears go into hibernation. This seasonal closure has occurred since 1997.

Anyone recreating in Chugach State Park is encouraged to take appropriate bear-aware precautions and be prepared to encounter bears and other wild animals.

CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, Chugach State Park Superintendent, 907-345-5014, csp@alaska.gov

Lake Louise State Recreation Area closed due to misuse

July 7, 2020 (Palmer, AK) – The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Mat Su Region has indefinitely closed the Lake Louise State Recreation Area in the Copper Valley near Glennallen effective immediately, in the face of continuing vandalism and lack of care by campers and recreators.

The division placed the facility into “passive management” earlier this summer, after the campground hosts intending to work there could not fulfil their duties, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to secure alternative hosts, said Stuart Leidner, superintendent of state parks in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys and Copper River Basin.

“We had truly hoped that Alaskans who traveled to the Lake Louise campground would work together to keep their camping sites cleaned up while respecting the local community,” he said. “Regrettably, this was not the case, and so we have decided we must close this area to all use, effective immediately.”

Lake Louise-area residents had pitched in last week to clean up trash left by earlier campers, but the Fourth of July weekend saw the problems only get worse, and even extend to local, non-park properties, he said.

“The community can no longer tolerate the lack of respect for their area displayed by visitors to their home community and surrounding areas,” Leidner said. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance and a difficult decision, but the health of Alaskans, respect for local residents, and our responsibility for this public resource made it necessary.”

The division will take steps to prevent vehicle traffic from entering the campground, which will remain closed until further notice. Division managers encourage campers to visit any of the other state campgrounds that do have campground hosts or staff, and to do their part to keep campgrounds clean while respecting nearby communities.

For current state campground status, visit: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/open.htm

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Two popular Mat-Su Valley state park campgrounds reopened

July 6, 2020 (Palmer, AK) – Campers are once again flocking to the reopened Byers Lake Campground in Denali State Park and the South Rolly Campground in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, after federal funding allowed removal of more than 8,000 hazardous beetle-killed spruce trees.

“These trees presented a significant safety issue for campers, and their removal has allowed us to reopen these popular campgrounds to the public,” said Alaska State Parks Superintendent Stuart Leidner.

The parks had been closed since spring of 2019, due to concerns that the ongoing infestation of spruce beetles had killed or weakened enough trees to create a safety hazard for campers, he said. The concern was that dead or weakened trees could fall on campers.

Of the $2 million Spruce Beetle Hazard Mitigation and Fuels Reduction funds the USDA Forest Service provided to the state, approximately $400,000 was spent on tree removal to reopen the campgrounds. Wildland firefighting and State Park personnel with the Department of Natural Resources, as well as a private timber harvest contractor, cut down and removed the trees, allowing the campgrounds to reopen on Friday, June 26.

The first weekend after reopening, both campgrounds were nearly full of visitors eager to take advantage of the summer weather and long daylight hours to recreate outdoors, and to avoid some of the pressures of social distancing and other restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leidner said.

Leidner credited the coordinated efforts by Division of Forestry wildland firefighting crews and Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation staff, plus the hard work of the private contractor, for the success of the effort. He also offered special credit to the U.S. Forest Service and Senator Lisa Murkowski for realizing the need and coordinating the effort to make the funds available.

“If not for the USDA Forest Service funds, these parks would still be closed, as our division simply didn’t have the resources to tackle the problem alone,” Leidner said.

The reopening of Byers Lake and South Rolly campgrounds does not mean the end of the beetle-killed tree removal, which will continue at other recreation sites throughout the Matanuska-Susitna region, he said.

To find up-to-date campground open status throughout the state: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/open.htm

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Alaska State Parks seeking applicants for seasonal jobs

June 16, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks is working to bolster its reduced traditional campground support and maintenance workforce with more Alaska Conservation Corps (ACC) positions, to keep busy state recreational units open, safe, and clean.

The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation operates about 124 campgrounds and other facilities around the state. While some are open year-round, the demand for park services peaks during Alaska’s summer season.

The Division traditionally leans heavily on campground hosts, usually visitors from the Lower 48, to provide management, security and other essential campground duties in exchange for the privilege of free or reduced-rate season-long camping, said Director Ricky Gease.

But the State’s COVID-19 response and the closure of the Alaska-Canada border has created a double-whammy, Gease said: Not only are there fewer campground hosts coming North to work at state parks, but vast numbers of Alaskans are enjoying “staycations” and using state parks for outdoor recreational activities in unprecedently high numbers.

Park staffers have worked hard to keep parks open and meet the demand. Park managers have asked the public to help by cleaning up after themselves and taking precautions necessary for the safety of all visitors. But the division has been unable to meet the increased workload, in some cases resulting in reduced services or even delays in opening some popular park units, Gease said.

In response, the division has decided to try to meet its needs by creating more Alaska Conservation Corps (ACC) jobs, positions typically filled by Alaska and Lower 48 young adults eager to spend a summer working and recreating in Alaska.

“These jobs represent a tremendous opportunity for young people who value outdoor recreation, want to experience Alaska, and need good-paying, short-term employment, plus the opportunity to explore possible full-time careers,” Gease said. “I encourage anyone who has ever thought about working in a park ranger, administrator, maintenance or supervisory position to contact our department and apply to join us in an ACC job.”

ACC job duties can range from office work, to trail maintenance, to cleaning, to a variety of other duties as assigned, at starting pay of $16 per hour. To apply for an ACC position, follow the link below or go to www.alaskastateparks.org, click on “Get Involved”, “Employment”, then follow the link to “Alaska Conservation Corps” to see the positions in each Region: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/misc/accinstr.htm

For questions please contact the hiring manager in the region you are seeking a position through or email wendy.sailors@alaska.gov.

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Alaska State Park campgrounds to open as weather, staffing allow

April 24, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – As Alaska continues to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska State Parks plans to open state campgrounds as weather and staffing allow.

Alaska State Parks manages 76 campgrounds throughout the state, most of which begin opening mid-to-late May based on snowmelt levels, ease of access, and seasonal staffing levels.

“As Alaskans work hard to keep themselves and their neighbors safe during these challenging times, we’re fortunate to have one of the best systems of state parks in the nation,” said Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Director Ricky Gease. “We are working hard to make sure Alaska State Parks remain available for visitors to enjoy safe, healthy outdoor recreational activities, and that requires us to follow a prudent schedule for park openings.”

While the impacts of COVID-19 have delayed seasonal staff hiring, state parks staff is working to have the campgrounds open as soon as possible. The division is also working closely with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to develop COVID-19 guidelines for campground operations, which will be posted on the ASP website prior to any new openings.

Here are the Alaska State Parks units, by region, where campgrounds are now open:

• Chugach State Park -- Bird Creek
• Kenai/Prince William Sound -- Blueberry Lake State Recreation Site, Deep Creek State Recreation Area-North Scenic Overlook, Ninilchik State Recreation Area, Clam Gulch State Recreation Area, and Kenai River Special Management Area - Morgan’s Landing campground
• Kodiak -- Pasagshak State Recreation Site

Public use cabins across the state continue to remain open, although users must continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing and cleaning guidelines. Visitors should bring their own cleaning products to disinfect before and after use, as Alaska State Parks does not have staff resources to clean the cabins.

While state parks, trails and picnic areas continue to be open for public use, it is critical that Alaskans work together to continue practicing social distancing and proper hygiene habits, Gease said.

The Alaska State Parks website will be updated with new information as additional campgrounds are opened, and Alaskans are encouraged to consult this page when planning camping outings: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/open.htm

With Alaska State Parks’ summer staff not yet on the job, it is up to users to practice good stewardship to protect themselves, and all current and future fellow park users. That includes cleaning up after yourself, packing out whatever you pack in, bringing disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer with you to ensure bathroom facilities and picnic tables stay clean.

Alaska State Parks staff appreciate the continued support of park users, as we everyone works together to keep our parks open and safe. For updates, go to: www.alaskastateparks.org

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Chugach facilities impacted by DOT Project

April 21, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Due to the ADOT Seward Highway (MP 100-105) Construction project starting this spring, the following Chugach State Park facilities will be impacted:

1. Indian Ballfield Trailhead (MP 103)- This trailhead/parking lot will be closed to public use until May 22, 2020. This lot is needed for the contractor to replace the Indian Creek Bridge. The Bird to Gird pedestrian pathway is expected to remain open however there will be no public parking at this location to gain access to the pathway until MAY 22, 2020. Bird Campground Day-Use Area is a good alternative to use to gain access to the Bird to Gird path.

2. Bird Fishing Access Parking Lot (MP 101)- The normally gated overflow section of this parking lot will be used as a contractor staging area. The normal public parking area at this location will remain open. The contractor is aware of the high public use of this location during fishing season and will be minimizing impacts to the recreating public.

Information on this highway project can be found at:

DNR offers COVID-19 economic relief via fee extension, suspension

April 8, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is helping ease the economic burden on Alaskans from the COVID-19 outbreak by using the governor’s and commissioner’s authority to suspend or extend certain fees during the next few weeks.

“Governor Mike Dunleavy has made it clear that we should use our authority to do what we can to ease the burden on Alaskans suffering economic harm from the current pandemic,” said DNR Commissioner Corri A. Feige. “Relying on his emergency authority and mine, we’re offering Alaskans some economic breathing room by pushing pause on collection of several DNR fees.”

Feige said her department’s web page now has a prominent link to a “COVID-19 Economic Relief” page (http://dnr.alaska.gov/covid_19_economic_relief.htm) providing details on DNR fee suspension and extension, and directions on how to obtain them by working with the appropriate DNR division.

The Division of Mining, Land & Water is delaying collection of certain charges for land sales contracts, land leases, and land use permits. Individual land buyers, lessees of state land, or permittees unable to make payments should contact the division by email at dnr.dmlw.financialassistance@alaska.gov or by phone at (907) 269-8594.

The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is suspending collection of fees for certain commercial use permits in Alaska State Parks. Those seeking such fee suspension should first review details by visiting http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/permits/ and scrolling down to the Commercial Use Permits section, then emailing the division at parkpermitting@alaska.gov.

The Division of Forestry plans to suspend collection of personal firewood cutting permit fees, log salvage permit fees, and fees relating to log brands, effective upon completion of program modifications by Thursday, April 9. For information on the firewood cutting fee suspension, go to https://dnr.alaska.gov/FPS/. For information on log salvage and log brand fee suspension, call the Ketchikan area office at (907) 225-3070.

Fee suspensions and extensions derived from the Governor’s COVID-19 Disaster Order of Suspension No. 2 as amended on April 1 are suspended from April 1 through May 11. Fee payment extensions derived from exercise of the commissioner’s statutory authority, either directly or as exercised through a division director’s finding and order, apply to fees due between April 1 and May 11. Details are available through the division contacts as listed above.

While collection of the DNR fees will be temporarily suspended or extended, the fees must eventually be paid, Feige cautioned. DNR will continue to monitor the economic situation and do its best to develop a plan for fee collection that places as little stress as possible on the public and small business.

“The fee suspensions represent the governor’s effort to ease the immediate burden on Alaska citizens and businesses from the unanticipated outbreak of the coronavirus and resulting social and economic restrictions,” she said. “We at DNR are glad to do our part as Alaskans, helping each other keep our state moving as we meet the challenge of an unexpected and unprecedented public health crisis.”

CONTACT: Dan Saddler, (907) 269-8427, dan.saddler@alaska.gov

Social distancing and safety essential for parks to remain open

March 27, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – As Alaskans maneuver through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial for mental and physical health to get outside and get fresh air while social distancing.

As Alaskans' daily routines have been evolving, Alaska State Parks are seeing more traffic at certain trailheads surrounding our largest populations, especially in Chugach State Park and Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass. Park staff are doing the best they can to manage and clean restrooms and trailheads, but they need help from the public.

Please help keep state parks open by following strict social distancing and other guidelines:

• Maintain six feet of distance between you and others at all times
• If you feel sick at all – stay at home
• Bring your own sanitizers for the restrooms, and wipe down surfaces before and after use
• If a parking lot is full, move on to a different park or location
• Leave adequate space for an emergency vehicle to maneuver through the parking lot
• Make an outdoor recreation plan – let people know where you are going and when you return
• Maintain control of your animals and pick up after them
• Pack out everything you pack in
• Pack everything you need for safety, as emergency and medical personnel is already limited
• Respect wildlife and give them space
• Bears may be waking up - carry bear spray and make noise
• Avalanche dangers remains in some areas, so visitors should practice caution and be prepared for slower emergency response times
• All park rules and regulations remain in effect

Do not put yourself or others at risk – recreate safely – while practicing social distancing. We want to continue to keep our parks open for you.

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Alaska State Parks Mark 50th Anniversary with Summer Celebrations
Excitement to Peak on June 13 with Mountaintop Concert at Chugach State Park

February 28, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – With 2020 marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Alaska State Parks, the State of Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation will be taking part in statewide celebrations, including 50Fest!, an event featuring live music, food, stories and children’s activities at Arctic Valley Ski Area in Chugach State Park on June 13.

50Fest! will take place at Arctic Valley Ski Area in Chugach State Park from 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, June 13. Park officials expect up to 1,000 people will attend to celebrate this landmark in Alaska State Parks history.

50Fest! will begin with a volunteer trail opportunity from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., organized by non-profit organizations Arctic Valley Ski Club and Alaska Trails, in honor of Alaska State Parks in general, and Chugach State Park in particular.

Live music and entertainment will run from noon to midnight, and food trucks will be on site to provide food and drinks for purchase. A beer garden, and a “Kid Zone,” with kid-friendly activities, art projects, games and snacks staffed by the family travel advocacy organization AKontheGo will open at noon and end at 8 p.m. The folk-rock-blues band Hope Social Club will begin playing at 7:45 p.m.

At 10 p.m., the folk-rock band Blackwater Railroad Company will begin performing at the top of Chair 2. Those who attend the Blackwater Railroad Company concert should plan to camp or set up their recreational vehicles near the base of the mountain as the gate to Arctic Valley Road closes at 10 p.m. Campers must hike to the top of the mountain to enjoy this part of the event.

In addition to 50Fest!, other 50th anniversary events scheduled for the summer include celebrations at: Kachemak Bay on May 9; Kodiak on May 24; Ketchikan on May 16; Big Delta on July 15; Eagle Beach (Juneau) on July 18; Fairbanks on August 7; and Denali State Park on September 12.

A specially designed fiftieth anniversary poster has been designed specifically for these celebrations and will be given to attendees while supplies last.

Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park kicked off their festivities on February 8 with a parade in downtown Homer touting the theme “50 Years of Winter Wilderness.” State-wide events are highlighted on Alaska State Parks (ASP) Facebook and Instagram: a weekly trail highlight on Wednesdays and a monthly photo contest. There is also a calendar on the ASP website’s events page.

For details on these events, visit: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/calendar.htm

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-529-7640, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Independence Mine historic buildings to remain closed this summer

February 13, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Visitors to the Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass will be welcome to explore the park and the outside of historical buildings this summer, but reductions in park resources and staff will keep the buildings closed to interior visits.

The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has traditionally relied on seasonal employees to staff the park soon after the winter snow melts, to maintain the historical mine buildings, ensure the safety of visitors touring the insides, and protect the integrity of the ageing buildings and the sensitive artifacts within.

Reallocation of scarce state resources, however, means the division will be unable to provide for such staffing, leading park managers to decide to keep the buildings closed during the summer months that attract most visitors. Parking facilities and the park grounds themselves will remain open, and visitors are encouraged to take self-guided walking tours around the complex.

Parks managers regret the necessity of this decision, and appreciate the patience, understanding and cooperation of the public and commercial operators who may be affected by it.

CONTACT: Stuart Leidner, 907-745-8935, stuart.leidner@alaska.gov

Kenai River Management Area advisory board recruiting members

January 15, 2020 (Soldotna, AK) – Applications are currently being accepted for three upcoming vacancies on the Kenai River Special Management Area Citizens Advisory Board.

This advisory board provides state park managers with recommendations on the management of the special management area. The people selected will serve from July 2020 through June 2023 and the board typically meets once a month between September and May.

To apply for a position on this advisory board, fill out the Alaska State Park Advisory Board Application provided at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/misc/boards.htm. Applications are being accepted through March 31.

For more information, please contact the Kenai/Prince William Sound Area state park office at 907-262-5581.

CONTACT: Jack Blackwell, 907-262-5581, jack.blackwell@alaska.gov

Final Decision on Arctic Valley Concession Contract

January 13, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a final decision regarding the Arctic Valley area in Chugach State Park. The proposed concession contract has been approved, subject to modifications, as described in the Arctic Valley Final Decision document. For the preliminary decision, original contract, modified contract, and public comments, see the Arctic Valley Final Decision Attachments documents below.

Arctic Valley Final Decision
Arctic Valley Final Decision Attachments

CONTACT: Dan Beutel, (907) 269-8692, dan.beutel@alaska.gov

Ice fishing huts available for rent at Birch Lake and Quartz Lake

December 24, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – Interior Alaska’s winter solstice cold snap has an upside for those eager to escape cabin fever and get outside: the ice on area lakes is now thick enough to support ice fishing huts, and Alaska State Parks has nine ice fishing huts ready for rent to the public.

Ricky Gease, director of the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, invites Alaskans to take advantage of the opportunity to rent one of the five huts at Birch Lake near Mile 305.5 of the Richardson Highway, and the four at Quartz Lake near Mile 277.8 of the Richardson Highway.

“Those willing to brave the cold should find good opportunities for fishing, and we’re happy to offer these ice huts to help make it possible for well-prepared fishermen to scratch their angling itch in safety and even a fair amount of comfort,” Gease said.

The huts measure eight feet by 12 feet. Each is equipped with a wood-burning stove and four fishing holes, but the renter must provide all other equipment and supplies. In addition to a valid state fishing license and fishing tackle and bait, Gease advised fishermen to bring an ice auger and/or spud bar, stools or seats, a lantern or flashlight, a shovel, firewood (12-inch stove lengths), and matches.

The huts are constructed by the Department of Fish and Game and managed by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. They rent for $20 per day (+$8.05 transaction fee) and can be reserved on-line at www.reserveamerica.com

For more information on ice huts or public-use cabins call the DNR Public Information Center in Fairbanks at 451-2705 or visit the division website at www.alaskastateparks.org.

CONTACT: Brooks Ludwig, (907) 451-2698, brooks.ludwig@alaska.gov

Alaska State Parks to waive parking fees on day after Thanksgiving

November 25, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks will waive parking fees at all 156 park facilities on Friday, Nov. 29, to encourage Alaskans to get outside during the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.

In Anchorage on Nov. 29, Alaska State Parks will host an #OptOutside event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Glen Alps trailhead with State Parks Ambassador Erin Kirkland, publisher of AKontheGO, a resource for Alaska family travel and outdoor recreation.

Complimentary coffee and hot chocolate will be provided by Kaladi Brothers Coffee, and Alaska State Parks will be selling 2020 day-use parking passes ($50/vehicle, credit card purchase only). Parking passes and day-use fees help keep state parks maintained and accessible throughout the year.

Park visitors are encouraged to share their outdoor activities on social media this weekend and throughout the holiday season by using the hashtag #OptOutside, #alaskastateparks, and #akstateparks.

Friday’s free parking does not extend to four state facilities managed by other entities: the Little Susitna Public-use Facility, the Pillars Boat Launch, the Arctic Valley ski area and the Eagle River Nature Center.

For more information about park fees, go to http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/fees.htm

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, 907-269-8738, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Survey seeks public views on Chena River shooting range’s future

November 25, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is using an online survey to solicit comments concerning the future management of a shooting range located in the Chena River State Recreation Area.

The shooting range, located at mile 36.5 Chena Hot Springs Rd., was established in the early 1970s, and is managed by Alaska State Parks. With a tight budget and reduced staffing levels, the division can no longer keep the site safe or well maintained. The division is using the survey to seek public input to help guide future management decisions for the facility.

To take the survey, enter this address into a search engine: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BNWH69H. You may also take the survey using a smart phone, by scanning the QL code below using the phone’s camera feature. The survey will run through Dec. 31.

CONTACT: Superintendent Brooks Ludwig, (907) 451-2698, brooks.ludwig@alaska.gov

Albert Loop Trail Reopened at Eagle River Nature Center

November 8, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – The Albert Loop Trail, located near the Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park, is reopened for public use effective today.

The popular trail is regularly closed between late summer and winter freeze-up to reduce the potential for encounters between humans and bears.

Even though the trail has been reopened, the risk of bear encounters remains. Trail users should take appropriate precautions, know how to recognize bear behavior, and be prepared to respond to an encounter. For more information on bear encounters, visit: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.main

CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, Chugach State Park Superintendent, 907-345-5014, csp@alaska.gov

Alaska State Park annual parking passes go on sale Nov. 15

November 4, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – The Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation (DPOR) will begin offering its annual Day Use Parking Passes for 2020 for sale Nov. 15, Director Ricky Gease said today.

“So many Alaskans who love and enjoy our state parks count on getting an annual parking pass each year as their passport to some of Alaska’s best recreational opportunities,” said Gease. “When you consider how many outdoor experiences you can jam into an entire year, the annual Alaska State Parks pass is one of the best bargains around.”

Day-use pass decals will cost $50 until Dec. 31, and can be purchased at most regional state park offices and at the Public Information Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks. After Jan. 1, 2020, the cost rises to $60. To order online, go to https://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/passes. The 2020 passes will be honored at all DPOR-managed locations, starting Nov. 15.

The first 11 passes -- numbered #00001 through #00011, will be sold to the highest bidders (capped at $200) in an online auction held via social media on Friday, Nov. 29. For more information on the auction, follow “Alaska State Parks” on Facebook and Instagram.

The 2020 Boat Launch pass will also go on sale Nov. 15, priced at $100 each until Jan. 1, and at $150 thereafter. Disabled veterans with appropriate documents can obtain a 2020 Disabled Veteran Camping Pass at no charge. Issued every other year, they are valid for two years.

In addition to most state park offices and ranger stations, passes will be available at the DNR Public Information Centers and Recreational Equipment Inc. stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks; at visitor centers in Kenai, Soldotna and Homer; at 24 Mile Java on Chena Hot Springs Road in Fairbanks; and at the Seward Chamber of Commerce office.

Day use parking decals should be placed on the driver’s side corner of your vehicle windshield for easy identification by park staff. If you must replace your decal-equipped windshield, you may obtain a replacement decal from a Public Information Center in exchange for $10 and either your original pass receipt, or a legible, scraped-off decal.

Annual passes make great holiday gifts! For information on ordering a bulk amount (25 or more), contact Wendy Sailors at 907-269-8738 or wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

CONTACT: Public Information Center, Anchorage, (907) 269-8400

Agencies Open Areas to the Public for Recreation Access Effective 12:01am on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

September 10, 2019 – Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks announces the reopening of a portion of the Upper Kenai River previously closed to support firefighting operations. As of 12:01am on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 the Kenai River between the state boat launch at the Cooper Landing bridge and Jim’s Landing will reopen to public use with the exception of the continued closure of a channel on the south side othfe river from approximately River Mile 69.5 to River Mile 71.5 will also be closed to support firefighting activity. The previous daytime limitation on this river use has also been removed, allowing for 24 hour public use.

The U.S. Forest Service Chugach National Forest is opening the Russian River Campground, Russian Lake Trail, Russian River Falls, Barber Cabin, and the K’Beq Day Use Area for public use. This opening will occur at the same time as the Kenai River reopening: 12:01am on September 10, 2019. Although this area has not been directly affected by fire, stay aware of the firefighting personnel and equipment still active on roads and lands nearby. Visit the Chugach National Forest website https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/chugach/home for details.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is opening the following areas to limited use as of 12:01am on September 10, 2019: Jim’s Landing for day use of the boat launch, the overflow parking lot north of the Sterling Highway at the Visitor Contact Station, and Lower Skilak Boat Launch for boat launch access. The Kenai River remains closed beyond Jim’s Landing to Skilak Lake for public safety and in support of firefighting efforts. All boats must exit the river at Jim’s Landing. On the west side of Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, Lower Skilak campground and day use facility remains closed to public use. Skilak Lake Road from the west entrance at mp 75.2 of Sterling Highway will be opened to allow access to the Lower Skilak boat launch but all lands off the road, trailheads including Marsh Lake and Day Use facilities including Bottenintnin Lake remain closed. Additionally all refuge lands that have been burned are closed to public access. Consult the attached closure order for more details.

This reopening of some portions of the Kenai River, Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge includes some areas that were burned by the Swan Lake Fire. Hazards exist in these burned areas that can be hard to see. Standing trees can be weakened as the fire burns the organic duff layer surrounding their roots. Very light wind or just shifting soils can cause these trees to fall without warning. The fire has burned very deep in some places, leaving ash pits behind. What appears to be solid ground can be empty space still holding heat that is able to cause severe burns. No Refuge lands, trails or day use areas are reopened for visitor use beyond these two boat launches. Avoid these burned areas until fire crews have been able to evaluate them for your safety.

Although fire danger has decreased over much of the Kenai Peninsula, residents and visitors should remain aware and prepared. More information, detailed maps, and public safety information can be found online at kpboem.com or by visiting the official website for Chugach National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/chugach/) and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (kenai.fws.gov). For statewide fire information, visit the AICC website at https://fire.ak.blm.gov/ or http://www.akfireinfo.com.

Albert Loop Trail at Eagle River Nature Center is temporarily closed

August 15, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Bears have returned to the area around Eagle River Nature Center to feed on spawning salmon. As a result, Alaska State Parks is closing the Albert Loop Trail and its vicinity, effective at 9:00 am FRI August 16. Black and brown bears use the bridges and beaver dams as fishing platforms and remain close to developed areas.

This closure does not affect the Iditarod/Crow Pass trail, the Rodak Loop and viewing platforms, or the Dew Mound Trail. Reopening of the Albert Loop trail will be announced and most likely will happen at freeze-up when most bears go into hibernation. This seasonal closure has occurred since 1997.

Anyone recreating in Chugach State Park is encouraged to take appropriate bear-aware precautions and be prepared to encounter bears and other wild animals.

CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, Chugach State Park Superintendent, 907-345-5014, csp@alaska.gov

State campfire closure in Southcentral Alaska to end Thursday

July 17, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – With wildfire danger moderating as a result of cooler, moister weather, the Alaska Division of Forestry will end campfire closures on state, private and municipal lands in Southcentral Alaska, effective 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18.

A similar state campfire closure was lifted for the northern half of Alaska on Sunday after cooler, wetter weather lessened wildfire danger in that region.

Reversal of the Southcentral Alaska closure means campfires under three feet in diameter will be allowed in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Copper River Basin and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. While campfires will be allowed in designated fire pits and rings in state campgrounds within the Municipality of Anchorage, the Municipality is retaining its ban on outdoor fires within the rest of the Municipality.

Likewise, while campfire closures are being lifted on state, municipal and private lands, campfire restrictions imposed on federal land by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or other federal agencies are being retained. The public needs to check with the appropriate federal agency to determine whether fire restrictions are in place on any specific federal land.

Today’s lifting of the state campfire closure in Southcentral Alaska does not affect burn suspensions issued by local state forestry offices, however. Burn suspensions for local-area forestry offices are evaluated daily. People must check with their local state forestry office, or go online at http://forestry.alaska.gov/burn to determine if there is a burn suspension in effect in their area.

Campfires under three feet in diameter are allowed during a burn suspension, but open debris burning and the use of burn barrels are prohibited. As of Wednesday, burn suspensions remained in effect for the Copper River, Fairbanks, Kenai and Mat-Su areas.

Even though the campfire closure is no longer in effect, those using camp, warming or cooking fires should continue to be vigilant to ensure they are burning safely. Campfires must be less than three feet in diameter, and one should have water and tools nearby to keep them contained. Fires should never be left unattended and must be completely extinguished before leaving the site, by drowning the fire repeatedly with water and stirring it with a stick or shovel until it is cold to the touch. Fires over three feet in diameter require either a small- or large-scale burn permit from the Alaska Division of Forestry.

As of Wednesday, there were 205 active wildfires burning in Alaska, with more than 2,100 firefighting personnel working to contain them. Given the large number of fires and limited firefighting resources, the Division of Forestry implores Alaskans and visitors alike to be extremely careful using any kind of fire and to follow any and all burning restrictions. For more about burn permit suspensions, closures, and safe burning practices, go to http://forestry.alaska.gov/Assets/pdfs/home/Safe%20burning%20practices.pdf

CONTACT: Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry public information officer, (907) 356-5511, tim.mowry@alaska.gov

Volunteer Events Coming up

July 15, 2019 (Homer, AK) -- Thanks to everyone who has already spent time helping out in the park this summer, including those who wrangled visiting family members and friends to lend a hand! We depend on the dedication and enthusiasm of community members in order to maintain our trails, so thank you!

Here are several upcoming opportunities. If you can help, we'd love to hear from you!

1. July 17, 19 & 20, 8am-5pm - 4 individuals needed to help brush a section of the Saddle trail or the Glacier Lake trail. Moderate project working alongside park specialist Eric Clarke and a great opportunity to help make trails more accessible all summer long. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm the day prior to your preferred work party date.

(Please note: We are looking for volunteers to spend a day across the bay with park specialist, Eric Clarke, brushing various trails all summer long, using a brusher (large weed whacker), with training and equipment provided on site. This is a great opportunity to spend time in our park and help out in a way that has an immediate impact for making our local trails more accessible. If you can help this week, next week or have any time through August, please let us know your availability, and thanks!)

2. July 22, 8am or 4pm to July 23, 8am or 5pm (Time flexibility depending on volunteer availability) - 4 individuals needed to help our Halibut Cove Ranger Station hosts brush and swamp a section of the China Poot Bay trail. This can be a day or overnight project depending on volunteer availability, with our preferred timeframe being an overnight work party from July 22, 8am to July 23, 5pm. Volunteers will spend the night in the ranger station bunkhouse with full use of the cookshack, and need to bring their own food and sleeping bag. (If we have volunteer names ahead of time, we can help coordinate meal planning!) This is a moderate work project working alongside the ranger station hosts. Overnight work party will allow for time for personal hiking, berry picking and relaxing in this gorgeous area of the park. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm on July 21.

3. August 19, 8am or 4pm to August 20, 8am or 5pm (Time flexibility depending on volunteer availability) - 4 individuals needed to help our Halibut Cove Ranger Station hosts paint buildings and remove old appliances and garbage. This can be a day or overnight project depending on volunteer availability, with our preferred timeframe being an overnight work party from August 19, 8am to August 20, 5pm, with volunteers spending the night in the ranger station bunkhouse with full use of the cookshack. Volunteers will need to bring their own food and sleeping bag. This is a moderate work project working alongside the ranger station hosts. Overnight work party will allow for time for personal hiking, berry picking and relaxing in this gorgeous area of the park. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm on August 18.

CONTACT: Christina Whiting, Volunteer Coordinator, Kachemak Bay State Park, 907-435-7969

Parks, Forestry extend ban on campfires in Interior, Southcentral

July 9, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – No campfires will be allowed on state, private or municipal lands in Southcentral and Interior Alaska starting today, according to state forestry and parks officials who said extreme wildfire danger demands they preempt potential new ignition sources.

The joint orders from directors of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation come as thousands of firefighters from Alaska and the Lower 48 are battling blazes in Southcentral and Interior Alaska that have imperiled buildings, and threatened hundreds of residents with evacuation from their homes.

"Conditions are almost perfect for the smallest spark to quickly become a large, dangerous wildfire," said Chris Maisch, director of the Alaska Division of Forestry. "There are hundreds of people putting their lives on the line dealing with the fires we have, and we simply can't risk creating more."

All campfires in the region, even those in established fire pits or rings in designated state campgrounds, are prohibited until further notice. This includes cooking, warming or signaling fires. The restriction does not apply to charcoal grills, gas grills and backpacking or camp stoves that use fuel or compressed canisters.

Burn suspensions for burn permits will also remain in place, prohibiting open debris burning and the use of burn barrels in Division of Forestry protection areas. The suspensions will stay in place until conditions moderate.

The ban applies to the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Denali Borough, Glennallen south to Valdez, and the Tanana Valley, including Delta, Nenana, Northway, Tanacross, Tok and surrounding communities.

As of Tuesday, there were 117 active wildfires in Alaska, 24 of which are staffed with more than 2,000 firefighting personnel, most of them from the Lower 48. To date this season, 392 wildfires have burned an estimated 1,026,725 acres in Alaska.

"I can't emphasize enough that we each have to do our part to keep Alaska campers, residents, firefighters and others safe from wildfire," said Ricky Gease, director of Alaska State Parks. "We must all be fire smart today, so we can enjoy Alaska's outdoors well into the future."

Anyone affected by the burning restriction order may appeal it by July 28, by delivering an appeal to DNR Commissioner Corri A. Feige by mail at 550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1400, Anchorage, AK 99501-3561; by fax to 907-269-8918; or by email to dnr.appeals@alaska.gov

For statewide fire information, visit the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center website at: https://fire.ak.blm.gov/ or he Alaska Wildland Fire Information website at http://www.akfireinfo.com

CONTACT: Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry public information officer, (907) 356-5511, tim.mowry@alaska.gov

Trail Crew Member still needed for Kachemak Bay State Park

June 27, 2019 (Homer, AK) – Kachemak Bay State Park is seeking trail crew members for a trail repair/improvement project. Desired experience: Sustainable trail construction and/or trail maintenance; Chainsaw and brushcutter operation; Familiarity with a variety of trail hand tools; Crew camping for extended amount of time. This is a field position, working outdoors in all types of weather. All candidates must have a strong work ethic, be able to work/live with others in remote settings, be able to lift and hike up to 60 lbs. over difficult terrain, and operate hand and power trail tools. Wilderness firstaid/ CPR desired. For more information contact Eric Clarke at Alaska State Parks, Homer Office at 226-4687 or eric.clarke@alaska.gov

Season: ASAP – September 30th
Starting at $15.00/Hour
Taking applications until position is filled

Send or email resume and Alaska Conservation Corps Application to:
HOMER AK, 99603
Email: eric.clarke@alaska.gov

CONTACT: Eric Clarke, 907-226-4687, eric.clarke@alaska.gov

Eagle River Campground Opening 5:00 PM

June 7, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Eagle River Campground will be OPEN for the season starting at 5:00 PM. Earthquake damaged road repair is completed.

CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, 907-345-5014, kurt.hensel@alaska.gov

Earthquake damage closes Eagle River Campground and access road

April 24, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – The Eagle River Campground is closed until further notice due to damage to its access road from the November 30, 2018 earthquake.

The earthquake left a large fissure in the road that provides the only access to the campground, located off Hiland Road in Eagle River. Frozen ground, combined with recent snows, make it impossible to know the full extent of the damage or accurately assess the dangers to the public from using the road.

The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation will assess the condition of the road as soon as the ground thaws, and is working through the contracting process to fix the road and open the campground as soon as possible.

CONTACT: Director Ricky Gease 907-269-8701, ricky.gease@alaska.gov

Two state campgrounds closed due to bark beetle-infested trees

April 9, 2019 (Palmer, AK) – Alaska State Parks has closed two campgrounds in Denali State Park and Nancy Lake State Recreation Area over concerns that spruce bark beetle-infested trees pose a risk to the health and safety of recreationists.

The Byers Lake Campground located in Denali State Park and the South Rolly Campground in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area will remain closed while the agency coordinates efforts to mitigate the significant hazards posed by beetle-infested trees. The campgrounds will likely remain closed for much of this summer, and possibly into next year.

"These trees represent a significant safety issue for campers and visitors,” said Alaska State Parks Director Ricky Gease. “We have been experienced a number of rotten trees falling over in the campgrounds this season, and while the timing is unfortunate, we need to take action now to reduce this hazard and help make our parks safer."

Pending approval of federal funds for the work, the Department of Natural Resources will contract with private business to cut down and remove the affected trees to reduce hazards to more than 100 campsites at the two affected campgrounds, and minimize the effect on residents and visitors. The state’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Division of Forestry are working together to pursue funding for the work.

To reduce the risk of spreading the beetle infestation, tree felling, chipping and removal must be timed to take advantage of colder weather conditions. While crews will be moving as quickly as possible to remove all the hazard trees and reopen campgrounds in a timely fashion, the campgrounds will be closed until the work is complete.

The closure will affect the following areas and trails:

Denali State Park
• Byers Lake Campground
• Byers Lake Trail
• Cascade Trail
• (Note: Byers Lake public use cabins will remain open, but access will be restricted. Parking is available at the Alaska Veterans Memorial with a trail walk into the site. No motor vehicle access is allowed beyond the Veterans Memorial.)

Nancy Lake State Recreation Area
• South Rolly Lake Campground (Note: Parking allowed to access trailhead only. Public use cabins will still be available.

For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit our website: alaskastateparks.org, or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

CONTACT: Stuart Leidner, (907) 745-8935, stuart.leidner@alaska.gov

Alaska State Parks to refocus Recreational Trails Program funds

April 8, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks will address a significant backlog in deferred maintenance on trails inside state parks by directing an estimated $1.2 million in federal trails grants to the work this year.

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federal program that provides reimbursable, matching funds to states so they can develop and repair recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.

"In an effort to maximize our resources and streamline our processes, we are looking for more efficient ways to fulfill our mission to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the people of Alaska, and to those that visit here," said State Parks Director Ricky Gease. "We need to start with our state park trails, which have been neglected for too long."

The grant program is managed by the Federal Highway Administration in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR). The division has historically divided the grant funds by spending approximately half internally, and providing half to trail projects sponsored by other organizations in communities statewide.

Starting July 1, however, Alaska State Parks will use the entire federal allocation of RTP funds to support the long list of deferred maintenance of trails and trail infrastructure inside state park units. This money will continue to benefit the public and support trails for trail users of all kinds.

CONTACT: DPOR Director Ricky Gease, 907-269-8701, ricky.gease@alaska.gov

Chena River State Recreation Area trail access limited until dry

April 3, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – Several trails in the Chena River State Recreation Area will be closed to all uses except foot travel, to allow them time to dry out during this season’s early melt.

The Compeau, Stiles and Angel Creek Hillside trails will be closed on April 10, about 10 days earlier than normal due to an early seasonal melt. They are scheduled to reopen on May 23 or sooner, depending on weather and trail conditions.

In order to protect the state’s investment and sustain summer use of these popular trails, it is necessary to allow the trails to thaw and the water to disperse without disturbance.

Other trails that are seasonally closed in the recreation area include the East Fork, Colorado Creek, and Angel Creek Valley trails. These are winter-only trails and open to snowmachine use from October 15 to April 10.

Alaska State Parks is reluctant to restrict any uses unless there are no other viable management alternatives. In such cases, the benefits of protecting the usefulness of these trails outweigh the inconveniences of seasonal restrictions.

Park managers urge trail users to respect the integrity of the trails so all may continue to enjoy them. Violations may be reported to the State Parks office at 451-2695 during the day. During evenings and weekends, call Alaska State Troopers and they will contact the park enforcement team.

CONTACT: Brooks Ludwig, 451-2698, brooks.ludwig@alaska.gov

State Parks receives trail grooming grant for Independence Mine

March 11, 2019 (Palmer, AK) – The Mat Su/Copper River Basin area of Alaska State Parks has received a $15,000 grooming grant for cross-country skiing trails at Independence Mine State Historical Park.

Located in Hatcher Pass, the Independence Mine park registers about 10,000 user-days each winter. This grant from Friends of State Parks (FoSP), Mat-Su will help park managers achieve their goal of providing groomed trails, said Superintendent Stuart Leidner.

“We are grateful that Friends of State Parks, Mat-Su provided this grant this year, which will help us keep over 5 kilometers of cross-country ski trails groomed at the Independence Mine area for the remainder of the 2019 season,” Leidner said. “Such grooming is not always guaranteed, in the face of limited funds for park operations overall, and for trail grooming specifically,” he added.

The Independence Mine park is a beloved recreation destination for Alaska residents, providing excellent year-round access for outdoor enthusiasts. It is a popular winter destination and often has some of Southcentral Alaska’s earliest snow.

Friends of State Parks, Mat-Su was founded in 2000. As a registered 501(c)3, the group works to enhance and protect the natural, historical and recreational resources within state park units of the Mat-Su/Copper River basin. FoSP fundraising has grown to provide more than $150,000 in grants to support Mat-Su State Parks and recreational areas. More information is available at: www.fospmatus.org.

For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit: alaskastateparks.org or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

CONTACT: Stuart Leidner, (907) 745-8935, stuart.leidner@alaska.gov

Alaska State Parks welcomes first "Park Ambassador"

February 11, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – In an effort to grow family-friendly opportunities and encourage more visitors to Alaska State Parks, the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is introducing its first State Parks Ambassador program and volunteer Park Ambassador, Erin Kirkland of "AKontheGo."

As Park Ambassador, Kirkland will partner with Alaska State Parks in planning and promoting kid-friendly events and activities, showcasing the State Park system’s resources for families and kids, and encouraging families to get outdoors.

"A partnership like this allows us to highlight all that our park areas hold for kids and families," said Matt Wedeking, operations manager of the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. "I'm excited to see where this new partnership leads."

Kirkland is a freelance journalist, publishing the well-known family travel and outdoor website AKontheGO.com. She is the author of the “Alaska On the Go” guidebook series, and an avid supporter of Alaska’s State Parks, especially for families.

“I’m thrilled to be working with State Park leadership to help more kids and parents discover what’s possible in Alaska’s State Park system,” she said.

Kirkland and Alaska State Parks are currently planning a “Kids to Parks” event for May 18, 2019 and a Family Adventure Day in August. Follow “AKontheGO” and Alaska State Parks on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on these events and more.

For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit our website: alaskastateparks.org or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, (907) 269-8738, wendy.sailors@alaska.gov

Mission Statement

"The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation provides outdoor recreation opportunities and conserves and interprets natural, cultural, and historic resources for the use, enjoyment, and welfare of the people."

Accessibility Notice

Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation

Atwood Building
550 West 7th Avenue
Suite 1380
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-8700
Fax: (907) 269-8907