Frequently Asked Questions

The park gets a lot of calls from current visitors and soon to be visitors. Below is a list of questions that we get that might help you in planning your trip better. If your question isn’t answered below feel free to contact the park and a staff member can help you before you visit.
Also, if a state regulation is involved a link is provided so you can find the “legal” definition.  If the recreational activity has a specific page devoted to it you can click the highlighted link and find more detailed information.

Can I bring my pet? Pets must be on leash at all campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots and trailheads, and under complete control (e.g. voice) in the backcountry. Pets must be on leash on trails around the Eagle River Nature Center. Please clean up after your pet. 11 AAC 12.130

Can I have a fire? Fires are allowed in portable camp stoves, metal fire rings provided by the park and on the river gravel bars of Eklutna, Peters Creek, Bird Creek and the main stem of Eagle River at times of low water. Illegal campfires have caused wildfires and scars that lasts for decades. Destroy any fire rings that others may have made. 11 AAC 12.180

Where can I ride my ATV? All-Terrain Vehicles are allowed in two areas of the park: the Bird Valley and the Eklutna Lakeside Trail. Eklutna Trail is open to ATVs Sunday through Wednesday, April 1st through November 30th only. Please note that off road motorcycles are prohibited in Chugach State Park. Visit our ATV activity page for more detailed information. 11 AAC 20.015

Where can I ride my bike? Bicycles are allowed on specific trails within the park. Visit our bicycling activity page for more detailed information. 11 AAC 20.050

Can I light off fireworks in the park? Fireworks are not allowed in the park. They can injure visitors, disturb wildlife and cause wildfires. 11 AAC 12.195

Where can I snowmobile?  Snowmobiles are allowed in 6 areas of the park when snow conditions are at sufficient levels to protect natural resources. All snowmobiles must be currently registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles before they can be operated in any state park, and must have required safety equipment. Visit our snowmobile activity page for more information. To find out if an area is open to snowmobiles visit our current conditions page. 11 AAC 20.040

Where can I get firewood? Wood that is both dead and lying on the ground may be gathered for use in permitted fires within the park. No wood can be gathered for personal use outside the park.. Check with the campground host, bundles of firewood are available in some campgrounds for a small fee. When in doubt, bring your own. 11 AAC 12.170

Can I pick berries in the park? Berries and edible plants may be gathered for personal consumption, but not for sale. Disturbing rocks, trees, or other plants is not allowed. 11 AAC 12.170

I hear there is gold in those hills. Where can I pan for gold? Recreational gold panning is allowed year round, except in streams that support salmon (Eagle River, Ship Creek, Bird Creek, Penguin Creek, and Indian Creek), which are open May 16 to July 14. Only those areas below the high water line (bare gravel bars and stream beds) may be disturbed, and only a pan and shovel may be used. No motorized equipment or chemicals are allowed. 11 AAC 20.045

Can I take my firearm in the park? Firearms may be carried for self-protection. Target practice is forbidden in the park. During legal hunting seasons (limited seasons, limited areas), discharge of weapons is not allowed within one half mile of any campground, picnic area, ski area or other facility, or any roadway in the park including the Seward Highway. 11 AAC 20.010

Where can I ride my horse? Horses are allowed throughout most of the park. There are however several trails that are closed to horse use and some trailheads are not suitable for horse trailers. Please visit our horseback activity page for more information. Open trails may periodically be closed seasonally to prevent erosional damage. 11 AAC 20.015

Can I hunt or fish in the park? Hunting and fishing are allowed in parts of the park during legal seasons. The required hunting and fishing licenses, and regulations published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, are available for purchase online and at local sporting goods stores. A detailed chart about hunting in the park, and the rest of Unit 14C, is found in the published hunting regulations at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

When do I need a permit? Permits are required for the organized assembly of more than 20 people, any entertainment, athletic, or competitive event, any incompatible use, research involving disturbance or collection of park resources, and for commercial activities. Visit our permit page for more information. 11 AAC 18.010

Can I land my airplane or helicopter in the park? Aircraft landings are limited to the "Bold Airstrip,” located at the up-valley end of Eklutna Lake. Be aware that this gravel airstrip is not maintained. 11 AAC 20.020  No other land or water landings are allowed in the park.

Where I can I use my boat in the park? Boats allowed on Eklutna Lake must be non-motorized or with an electric motor only. Boats must be carried by hand to the lake, a distance of up to several hundred yards. 11 AAC 20.025

Any rules on where I can drive my car? Vehicles must remain on roadways, parking areas, or camping pads. Posted speed limits and parking regulations are enforced for your safety. 11AAC12.020

Are there fees to park? Many of the trailheads have a $5 day use fee to park. These fees go to help maintaining our park facilitates. If you are a frequent user you may consider purchasing an annual pass.

What should I have with me when I go hiking? You should always carry the ten essentials when hiking in the backcountry. You never know when emergencies may happen. Extra Clothing, Extra food, Sunglasses, First Aid Kit, Knife, Matches, Fire Starter, Light source, Map, and compass are essential in a hikers backpack. Additionally, Proper footwear and Water are needed for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Are there bears in the park? Bears inhabit Chugach State Park. Please visit  Alaska Department of Fish and Games Bear safety

Are there moose in the park? Moose inhabit Chugach State Park. Please visit  Alaska Department of Fish and Games Moose safety.

Where can I see the Bore Tide? A bore tide, or tidal bore, is a wall of water coming in with the tide. It is created by a wide range between high and low tides (more than 35 feet in Cook Inlet) and the narrow, shallow and gentle sloping of the arm. The only places in the United States where tidal bores occur regularly are in Turnagain and Knik Arms. Beluga and Bird Point is a good place to watch for bore tides, which generally occur about 45 minutes after the predicted Anchorage low tide.
2014 Bore Tide Schedule

What is it like to cross (ford) Eagle River on the Crow Pass Trail? Crossing Eagle River can be dangerous due to high rain events or summer heat melting the glacier. For safety tips please watch the video.
Crossing Eagle River on the Crow Creek Trail Video (.mp4)

Can I go on the mudflats? The mudflats of Turnagain Arm are VERY DANGEROUS! Going on the mudflats is not recommended, no matter the season. Risks include DROWNING and getting stuck in the mud. The tides change quickly and the mud/silt has a quicksand like consistency. Going on the mudflats endangers yourself and the first responders when rescue is needed.

Is there giardia in the water? Yes, it is possible that watersheds in the park are contaminated with giardia. It is not advised to drink from any watershed prior to purification. Luckily purifying your water to avoid getting sick is easy; you can boil your water for 2 or more minutes, run it through a pump filter or use chemical treatments.

Are there any poisonous plants? Yes, there are some poisonous and hazardous plants in the park. Berry picking is a popular outing in the park, be advised that some of them are poisonous. It may be a good idea to bring a plant and berry identification guide to be certain before you eat any. There are also plants such as: cow parsnip and devils club that can be rather unpleasant when ran into. Wearing long sleeves and pants is a good idea when hiking near or through them.

Are there avalanches in the winter? Yes, avalanches are a real hazard within the park and can occur anywhere! Especially susceptible areas include: gullies, steep snow-covered slopes, and anywhere below steep ridges. If you are going to be in the backcountry an avalanche class will teach you valuable skills to prepare you for avalanche hazards.  Alaska Avalanche School.

Can I take these antlers home that I found in the park? No, antlers and any other part of an animal that is found are to remain where it lies. This is considered disturbance of natural objects, see: 11AAC 12.170.

Where can I cut a Christmas tree in the park? Cutting trees in Chugach State Park is prohibited at all times. Cutting live trees is considered disturbance of natural objects, see: 11AAC 12.170.

Will my dog get caught in a trap if I go hiking? There are places in the park where traps and snares are allowed during the trapping season. Trappers are required to register with the park as to inform us where traps may be. Warning/advisory signs may be posted at trailheads to inform park users that there are traps in the area. It is suggested to keep your dog leashed/under control as all times to limit risk. See: AAC 20.060 for the parks regulations on pets.

Can I make reservations for a campsite? Yes, there is one campground in the park where reservations can be made. Half of the campsites are available to reserve. Contact Lifetime Adventures  for more information.

I have a 40’ RV, do you have campsites to that will accommodate large vehicles? All three campgrounds can accommodate 40’ RV’s. There are no guarantees that these sites are available.  

Can I use a metal detector to look for gold? No, only non-motorized/non-electrical tools may be used for recreational gold panning. This includes a gold pan and shovel only. See: 1 AAC 20.045.


Return to Chugach State Park Home Page

Chugach State Park

18620 Seward Highway

Anchorage, Alaska 99516