For Your Outdoor Safety and Comfort
Be prepared! Outdoor recreation has inherent risks. It is your responsibility to have the necessary skills, knowledge, and equipment for a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience.
File a trip plan before heading into the back country. Contact the nearest ranger station and let them know where you're going and when you plan to return. They will have information on back country travel conditions, equipment and safety.
Weather can change rapidly and with little warning. Even in summer, visitors may encounter cold temperatures, strong winds, and rain or snow. Be prepared with adequate clothing and, when planning a long hike or boat trip, carry extra food and water in anticipation of delays due to weather.
Mosquitoes are famous in Alaska and can be a problem from June through August. Be prepared with your favorite repellent and a long-sleeved shirt.
Giardiasis, an intestinal disease contracted from water containing the parasite Giardia lambia, is a growing problem in Alaska. All water, even icy cold or fast moving water, must be boiled for at least one full minute, or filtered with a commercial filter, or treated with chemicals to make it safe to drink.
Glaciers may be covered with snow that hides deep crevasses. Park visitors should not venture onto a glacier unless well-equipped and experienced.
Tides in many coastal areas of Alaska are extreme, with powerful currents as fast as 20 miles per hour. These tides are called bore tides. Some of Alaska's tide flats are composed of a gray clay that acts as a binding quicksand which, along with rushing, incoming high tides, make a dangerous combination. Bore tides near Anchorage are interesting to watch, but do not walk out onto tide flats.
Boating, canoeing, rafting & kayaking in Alaska require special precautions because of Alaska's cold, and often treacherous, waters. If you capsize, it is usually wise to stay with the boat, wait for rescue help, and not try to swim to shore. Hypothermia and death can result after only a few minutes of exertion in cold water. Check with park rangers for information on boating trips and proper equipment.