Winter in Chugach State Park
Winter landscapes can be explored and challenged on skis, by dogsled, or by snowmachine. Classes in winter activities are offered through schools and local clubs. Increase your skill levels, learn about winter safety, get some gear, and get out there! Have some fun!
For more information on park location for these activities, see the park's winter map and trail descriptions.
Skiing: Cross-country skiing is allowed anywhere in the park. Glen Alps, Prospect Heights, and Eklutna Lake are good places for beginners. Before going into the backcountry, learn about avalanches. Downhill skiing is available in the park at the Alpenglow Ski Area (Ship Creek Drainage), operated by the Anchorage Ski Club and the U.S. Army.
Snowshoeing is a great way to explore wooded areas and is also a good workout.
Dogsledding is easiest where there are old roadbeds. Try the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, Peter's Creek, or the Powerline Pass Trail.
Skijouring: If you think being towed on skis behind a dog sounds like fun, try the dogsled areas mentioned above.
Snowmobiling: There are 5 areas in the park, outside of its wilderness zones, where snowmobiles can be used see access and area descriptions.
Ice Climbing: Of the many popular ice climbing areas in the park, the most accessible are the frozen waterfalls along Turnagain Arm. Others can be found in the Eagle River drainage, the Eklutna Lake area, and the Eklutna Canyon near Thunderbird Falls Trailhead.
Photography: Winter is very photogenic. Carry extra batteries, and protect your cold camera from condensation.
Skywatching: Night is non-existent in summer but comes in double doses during winter months, along with brilliant stars and northern lights. Dress for extreme cold. Skywatching is a sedentary activity.
Tracking: Many animal tracks are visible in winter snow. Good areas for finding tracks include the Eklutna Lake area, the trails around the Eagle River Nature Center, and Ship Creek.
Winter Wonderland A Cold, Fragile Beauty
Winter is the longest season in the Chugach Mountains. Freezing temperatures and snow are an important part of the weather for up to ten months of the year. In higher elevations, snow can fall anytime in August and remain on the ground through May. The harsh winter weather challenges resident wildlife and park visitors alike.
Fortunately, the challenges of winter are accompanied by many rewards: bright snowy days, tracks left by wandering wildlife, the frozen beauty of ice crystals, whole frozen waterfalls, lingering alpenglow, northern lights...and the chance to play in the snow!
Note from the Ranger Log at the Eagle River Nature Center -- "Dec. 21, shortest day of the year. Minus 22 F the high today, minus 35 F the low. Sun so low in the sky that it is constant twilight on the valley floor, though the sunrise colored the southfacing peaks pink for almost an hour. Bird feeders are being hard hit by at least 40 chickadees. Always surprised such tiny birds can manage in this cold. Skied down to river at lunch. New coyote tracks since yesterday. Hoar frost crystals are forming flowers on the creek ice. Their cold fragile beauty shatters like delicate glass under my skis."