Eklutna Lake Campground Offers the Best Camping near Anchorage

Eklutna Lake Campground

Alaska’s a big state, so sometimes it can be a long drive to camp at some of the state’s most scenic campgrounds. But what if I told you there’s a campground less than an hour’s drive from Anchorage that has some of the most beautiful scenery of campgrounds in the state? That’s what you’ll find at Eklutna Lake Campground.

Eklutna Lake Campground sits on beautiful Eklutna Lake, letting you explore an incredible glacial carved valley.

While there are campgrounds much closer to Anchorage (Centennial Campground; which I don’t recommend), you really can’t find anything better than the Eklutna Campground.

In this article I’ll give you all the information you need to plan your next camping trip to Eklutna Lake Campground so you too can experience its beauty.


Eklutna Lake Campground Review

Eklutna Lake State Park

Eklutna Campground is located on the drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park, a short 10-15 minute drive off the Glenn Highway. It’s located in an idyllic glacial valley surrounded by steep mountains on both sides of the lake.

Eklutna Lake itself has the beautiful turquoise color associated with glacially-fed lakes. The color really pops when you take it in from the ridges above the lake.

Eklutna Campground Map
Eklutna Campground Map
Eklutna Lake Campground Kiosk
Eklutna Lake Campground Kiosk

The campground is located in Chugach State Park, one of my absolute favorite places in Alaska. Sites cost $20 per night. A payment kiosk is present that allows you to pay for your site with a credit or debit card. I always appreciate these because I don’t carry a lot of cash these days!

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Eklutna Campground payment kiosk

The campground is very clean and well managed. The facilities are generally pretty new and in good working order. A campground host is present during most of the summer camping season.

We recently camped at the Eklutna Campground over Memorial Day and had a great time. While the sites were private enough, I do wish there was a little more vegetation between the sites to make them more private. I could easily see what my neighbor’s were up to at their sites.

Even though they left a little to be desired privacy-wise, there was a good amount of distance between sites (30-50 feet). And the sites themselves were quite large.

There is no cellphone reception at Eklutna Lake Campground, so be prepared to be cut-off from contact during your stay. I used my inReach to communicate with my wife to let her know I got a site because cell coverage is non-existent.

There is only one small store near the campground (about a mile away) that sells coffee, ice cream, and some limited food. But don’t count on being able to pick up forgotten camping items there. Still it’s a beautiful spot to have an ice cream cone with the kids.

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Small ice cream and coffee shop near the Eklutna Campground

Eklutna Lake Campground Campsites

Eklutna Campground has 50 campsites with 8 of those designated as walk-in tent sites only. There is an additional 15 sites at the overflow campground adjacent to the main campground. While you can park a camper or small RV at those sites, they are essentially parking spots that can fit a few rigs, with picnic tables and fire rings off pad in the woods.

There is also one group size that can be reserved online.

Campers and RVs are limited to those less than 30 feet long.

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Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire pit.

There are a lot of bears in the area, so keeping a clean camp is VERY important.

Pay attention to signage in the campground about recent bear sightings and talk to the campground host about any concerns you might have.

Eklutna Lake Campground Amenities

Eklutna Campground offers drinking water from a spigot.

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There are multiple outhouses with pit toilets around the campground.

There is also a dumpster for your trash. Please do not leave trash or food unsecured because both grizzly and black bears live in the area and could become problems if people don’t properly manage their camps.

There are bear resistant food lockers to secure your food which should be used if you don’t have a secure place to keep your food from bears.

There are no sewer, water, or electric hook-ups at Eklutna Campground.

The campground also has a small boat ramp for deploying self-propelled boats into the lake. But when we were there, the water level was way down, so it was a bit of a hike down to the lake.

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Walk-in boat ramp at Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake Campground Reservations

All campsites at Eklutna Lake Campground are first-come first-serve and cannot be reserved, with the exception of the one group campsite that requires reservations.

When is Eklutna Lake Campground Open

Eklutna campground is open between late May and late September, annually. June and July are the peak months for staying at Ekultna Campground.

Eklutna Lake Directions

Eklutna Campground is located about 37 miles from Anchorage. It takes approximately 45 minutes to reach the campground from Anchorage with an easy drive along the Glenn Highway.

Eklutna Lake Campground Activities

There are a lot of activities at the campground with plenty to keep you busy for your entire stay.

Hiking

There are three main trails you can reach from the Eklutna Campground. The Eklutna Lake Trail, Bold Ridge Trail, and Twin Peaks Trail.

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I have hiked portions of all of them and they are all beautiful and give you amazing views of the lake and surrounding terrain.

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Views from the Bold Ridge Trail at Eklutna Lake
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Boating on Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake is a great place to take a canoe or kayak on. You’ll feel like an ant with the giant ridges that jut straight up from the lake.

The Lake is only open to non-motorized boats. Don’t have a canoe or kayak? No worries because most of the summer a small outfitter operates at the lake that rents boats and bikes (for riding on the Eklutna Lakeside Trail).


Summary

Eklutna Lake Campground is one of Alaska’s most scenic campgrounds that can be easily accessed from the highway and is a quick trip from Anchorage.

If you’re looking to experience Alaska’s beauty as a tourist, or are a local just looking for a quick weekend getaway, then look no further!

Interested in learning more about other camping opportunities in Alaska? Check out our page on Alaska Campgrounds to learn about other campgrounds to explore.

Also, if you’re new to camping in Alaska, be sure to check out our list of essential Alaska camping gear.

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Author

Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.