Cabin Descriptions - Mat-Su Area
The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site, near Matanuska Glacier
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, near Willow
Denali State Park (near Trapper Creek)
Denali State Park borders the southeast corner of Denali National Park, providing wonderful views of the south side of Mt. McKinley, otherwise known as "Denali". The George Parks Highway bisects the state park. Byers Lake, located at Mile 147 of the Parks Highway, has a number of park facilities, including cabins, a campground and Kesugi Ridge Trailhead. The entrance to Denali National Park is approximately 90 miles north of the Denali State Park Byers Lake cabins and campground facilities.
Temperatures in the summer are usually in the 60's, with rare highs in the 80's. However, have warm clothes and quality rain gear, as inclement weather can set in quickly and last for days. Average winter highs range from zero to 30°F, while on extremely cold days the low may reach minus 40°F. Snow begins to accumulate in October and frequently reaches depths of six feet or more. Ice depth on Byers Lake can be quite variable and should be checked before assumed safe.
Summer activities include hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, and boating (gas-powered motors are not allowed on Byers Lake). Winter activities include skiing, snowshoeing, dog mushing, and snowmachining. The road into Byers Lake Campground is not plowed in the winter. Visitors and cabin renters must park their vehicles at the Alaska Veterans Memorial and follow the winter trail down to the lake.
Maximum stay in the public use cabins is 5 consecutive nights. Each cabin has a wood heating stove, bunks, tables, and benches. In the summer, water is supplied by the campground pump or purifying lake water; in the winter, renters must bring their own, or purify lake water or snow. In winter make sure the chimney is free of snow before starting a fire. If you would like to bring in a small generator, Byers Lake Cabin #3 is wired for electricity. Please bring spare lightbulbs. Firewood is not provided at most cabins. Either bring your own, or arrive at the cabin with enough daylight to find firewood. Wood must be dead and down.
The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site, managed by Long Rifle Lodge, is located one mile south of the Lodge at Mile 101 on the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway. The recreation site has 9 campsites on a gravel loop road, water pump, toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables. The Edge Nature Trail begins at the rest area and provides a 20-minute walk through the forest to glacier viewing platforms. Summer activities include hiking, glacier trekking and river rafting. Winter activities include skiing, snowshoeing and snowmachining. NOTE: There is no access to the Matanuska Glacier from the park.
- Matanuska Glacier Cabin(16'x20' with a 6' porch) Sleeps 4 ( 4 person maximum) with a maximum stay of 5 consecutive nights. $65 per night. This log cabin has outstanding views overlooking the Matanuska Glacier, the valley below the glacier and the Chugach Mountains. The cabin has electric lights, double beds (no linens), a woodstove, table and chairs. Outdoors are the toilet, a picnic table and fire-ring. The cabin is road accessible year-round. Water is available in summer at the well in the campground nearby; renters need to bring their own water in the winter. Cabin key can be picked up at Long Rifle Lodge any time after noon the day of your reservation. Checkout time is noon. For more information, rates and reservations go to http://longriflelodge.co/ or call (907) 745-5151.
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is one of Alaska's few flat, lake-studded landscapes preserved in its natural state for recreation. Lakes, streams, and swamps make up just over half of this 22,685 acre area which lies between the Susitna River on the west and the Talkeetna Mountains on the east. The setting is great for canoeing, hiking, fishing, and camping. In winter, the rolling topography is ideal for cross-country skiing, dog-mushing, and snowmachining.
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is a 75 minute drive north of Anchorage. The community of Willow lies just north of the recreation area entrance at Mile 67.3 of the Parks Highway, and has a full range of services nearby for the traveler. The Nancy Lake Public Use Cabins are located on four of the larger lakes in the recreation area and are accessible by canoe, foot, or floatplane, in the summer, and skis, dog sled, snow vehicles, or airplane in winter. Planes can land on Nancy, Lynx, and Red Shirt lakes year round. In the winter, check ice thickness reports with the local state park office.
The weather in southcentral Alaska during the summer is mild. Temperatures rise into the 70's with occasional highs in the 80's. Nighttime readings, even in July, may dip into the 40's. Winter temperatures can fall to -40F and seldom rise above freezing until mid-March. Come prepared for the outdoors and rapid weather changes. Bring warm clothing, rain gear, appropriate footwear, extra food, and emergency gear.
In the recreation area's combination of lakes, one can find an abundance of wildlife. Fish include rainbow and lake trout, whitefish, northern pike (especially at Red Shirt and Lynx Lakes) and Dolly Varden. Common loons, Pacific loons, grebes, and Arctic terns also make their home in the recreation area. Please give all nesting sites of these birds a wide berth when canoeing or hiking. Beaver, moose, and bears are also common in this area so keep a lookout and follow the bear safety tips.
Please report any bear sightings to the park staff.
Cabins within the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area are rustic. Many are insulated frame buildings and are equipped with wooden sleeping platforms, shelves, tables, a wood-burning stove (for heating only), and chairs or benches. Three older cabins were replaced in 2015 with new 16 x 20 foot log cabins. See below for details. All cabins have a latrine and outdoor fire pit. It is highly recommended that you bring your own firewood, dead and down trees are scarce in the area. Cutting live trees in illegal within the park. The water supply is from the lakes. Please be sure to purify the water before using it. The cabins are generally the same, except for size and location.
To assist in cabin rentals, click here for a Nancy Lake Recreation Area brochure. The map in the brochure includes cabin locations plus winter and summer access routes.
Access for the cabins on Nancy Lake is similar except for Cabin #3 (see below).
Summer access for the cabins on Lynx Lake and James Lake is via the canoe trail system. The canoe trail involves crossing several lakes and portages between lakes for about 3-4 miles to reach the cabins and takes approximately half a day. Lynx Lake cabins are also accessible by floatplane in the summer. Winter access is by registered snowmobile, skis, snowshoe, or dog sled using the winter trail. ATVs prohibited. Distance varies between 3.5 to 6.0 miles, depending on route and cabin. Lynx Lake cabins can also be reached by plane in the winter. No planes are allowed on James Lake. None of the cabins on Lynx or James Lakes are reachable during freeze up or break up when the ice is too thin to support weight.
Access for the cabins on Red Shirt Lake is similar to Lynx Lake. Summer access: by floatplane or by a combination of hiking and canoeing. It is a 3 mile hike to Red Shirt Lake from the summer Red Shirt Lake trailhead at the end of Nancy Lake Parkway, followed by crossing the lake to reach a cabin. A canoe must be carried to Red Shirt or rent one from Tippecanoe Rentals (907-495-6688) prior to departure and they will have a canoe at the lake for you. Winter access: by plane or the winter trail for 7.5 to 8 miles, using registered snowmobile, skis, snowshoes, or dog sled. ATVs prohibited. None of the cabins on Red Shirt Lake are reachable during freeze up or break up when the ice is too thin to support weight.