Last updated: January 11, 2022
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a trail-less wilderness, and you are free to camp where you like, unless otherwise closed. Camping within the Richard Proenneke Historic Cabin Site, on private property without landowner permission, and within the closures at Chinitna Bay or Silver Salmon Creek is always prohibited.
All camping is primitive, no facilities or designated campsites exist. You should use Leave No Trace guidelines to minimize your impacts. Backcountry permits for camping and hiking are not required, however there are rules and regulations governing one's behavior in all national park areas. Please do not take, shape or alter the wilderness around you.
Leashed pets are permitted in the park and preserve. However, we strongly encourage you to leave your pets at home, for your safety, their safety, and the health of the ecosystem. If your dog is already in Alaska with you, a quick Google search will give you a list of kennels that can board it for you during your trip to Lake Clark. Common park gateway communities with pet boarding facilities include Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, Kasilof, Homer, and Anchor Point.
Dogs running loose can bring enraged bears or moose back to their owners. They can also harass or kill local wildlife. While it's pretty obvious when a dog is chasing a moose or a squirrel, a loose dog can eat ground nesting bird eggs and chicks so quickly the owner never realizes it happened. They may also either contract a disease from wild canine populations, or introduce disease to fox, coyote, or wolf through their scat. Be aware that these wild canines are highly territorial, especially during summer denning season, and will kill loose dogs they encounter in their territory.
If you must bring your pet, remember that it must be leashed at ALL times, and that you must properly dispose of its scat by either burying it in a 6 inch cathole like you would your own waste, or by packing (flying) it out.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve has two distinct climate areas: the coast and the interior. The coast is often foggy and wet, with an average annual rainfall of 40 to 80 inches. The interior averages only 17 to 26 inches. The same weather systems that bring precipitation to the coast also bring milder winters; the interior often suffers temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visitors to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve might bask in warm, gentle sunshine, be pummeled by fierce storms, or get soaked by rain. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and the mountainous terrain channels fierce winds. Gusts in the 30-50 mph range are not uncommon.
Frost and snow can occur any time, but are most common from September to early June. Lake Clark typically begins freezing in November and melts in April. Ice conditions dictate whether planes on floats or skis can land.
In general, visitors should be prepared to experience a number of different weather conditions during their stay in Lake Clark. Sturdy rain gear and waterproof footwear are a must, and smart travelers make sure to layer clothing.
A fat tire wheelchair that works well on beaches/dry creeks is available from Port Alsworth Visitor Center. It may be reserved in advance and delivered to your airplane or picked up at the visitor center. It may or may not fit in your air taxi, depending on the size of the plane. To reserve or inquire more, call (907) 644-3626 or email us
Camping in a Remote LandscapeAlaska's remote character comes many challenges and the need for increased preparation and orientation when camping. One must be self-sufficient. Much of the park is far from communities and help may be days away. Even the most experienced campers with site finding and wilderness skills are challenged in these rugged landscapes. The links below will provide some backcountry pro-tips from park rangers so you can get acquainted with what makes Alaska unique before you plan your trip.
Food and Gear Prep: Planning is essential in Alaska, especially when fly-in backpacking. When landing in a remote area, there may not be groceries, gear or trash facilities available. You will want to have all you need ready for hiking and dispose of any trash before you load your plane or other mode of transport.
You are dependent on your own resources here. Always pack plenty of food and fuel and carry emergency food rations. Come prepared with proper equipment and clothing, including weather-resistant outerwear, thermal layers and quality rain gear. You must be ready for changing weather conditions, as they often shift rapidly. Bear resistant containers are required in most areas. Bear spray and electric bear fences are effective deterrents. If you'll be carrying these with you, it's a good idea to practice their use before you leave for your trip.
Backcountry Electronics: Batteries for electronic devices often lose charge in the cold (even in summer), so bring a battery back-up or more batteries than you think you will need. It is highly unlikely there will be a place to charge your devices once you leave a big city or village. When hiking, it can be helpful to keep your batteries in a pocket on an inside layer; this will use your body heat to keep them warm for longer periods than inside your pack.
Trip Planning: Alaskan terrain is complex, often challenging, and ever-changing. For these reasons you may not hike as fast as you normally would on a trail or other cross-country routes in the Lower 48. As you plan your trip, always add more days than you may need, especially in the case that you or your scheduled pick-up does not arrive due to weather or high river levels.
Trip planning should not be measured by “miles per day” but rather with a “you get where you get” mentality. When hiking in a landscape that is unpredictable, it is best to go with the flow, have many options for potential campsites and try to not have a required daily end point. Give yourself room to relax, have fun, move around wildlife and make safe decisions.
There are various terrain types in Alaska’s trail-less wilderness. Plan on covering roughly one mile per hour to allow for errors in navigation, route selection and tough going. Vegetation types can dictate the difficulty of hiking and can affect how many miles you may be able to go in a day. If you're not familiar with Alaskan terrain, be prepared to turn back and try a different routes. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going. You may encounter the following:
Steep scree slopes with loose, sharp rocks.
Wet, muddy bogs where feet can sink into the ground up to your knees. This is often very slow hiking, usually found in low lying areas and very buggy.
Tussocks, brushy and lumpy areas with uneven terrain and “ankle busting” hopping from one frost heave to the next.
Tundra, with ankle to knee-high brush, generally more “easy going” for Alaska.
Dense brush, with expert-level bushwacking. Thick, waist-to-overhead height alders and willows. This can be very frustrating and slow going for long periods. Bushwhacking is often unavoidable and requires both practice and patience. Willow and alder habitats can drastically impact your speed. When traveling through willow habitats be cautious of objects or gear hanging from your pack, stow away trekking poles.
Fast and cold glacial waterways that must be forded by foot or packraft. Often their depth is obscured by glacial sediment.
Long stretches of exposed coastline. Be sure to consult tide tables and know whether the tide is rising or falling. If you are planning to hike along coastlines, you may have to hike when the tide is low. Be aware of changing tides and routes that may be impassable, either because large mudflats or high water.
Place your campsite in an area of good visibility for both you and the bears to see each other and avoid surprises. Avoid cooking and eating overly odorous food or fish. Sleep, eat, and store your Bear Resistant Container (BRC) in different locations.
Orientation: Have a map and compass with you and practice orienteering before you go. While electronics are convenient, do not rely on cell service or your GPS to know where you are. Most of Alaska does not have cell service and even GPS can fail in mountainous terrain.
Aviation: Much of Alaska is not on the road system. Many areas can only be accessed by small aircraft. When beaches are not suitable for a wheeled plane to land, floatplanes are an alternative means of transportation. In winter, planes operating on wheels or skis can land on lakes if ice conditions are suitable. Be prepared for the possibility of inclement weather delaying a scheduled take-off or pick-up, maybe even by days. Know the basics of safe flying so as a passenger you ask questions and can take control of your own safety.
Weather: It can snow any day of the year in many places throughout Alaska. Every year is different. Snow usually falls between late August and early June. Be cautious of snow bridges during break-up and spring melt season. Both warm weather with rapid glacial melt and heavy rainfall can cause rivers to swell, making them unsafe to float.
Cold Water: Alaska has many large bodies of water and wild rivers. Rivers are very cold, swift and remote. Rivers do not have bridges and must be forded on foot or by packraft. Stream and river crossings can be dangerous. Some crossings may be impossible during spring melt or periods of heavy rain. Employ safe river crossing techniques and always give full consideration to the area, local conditions and personal ability. Always scout for the best crossing, looking for wider sections where the water is shallower and moving with less force.
Drinking Water: Be prepared to treat, boil, or filter your drinking water. You are often far away from villages or towns in the backcountry, but this does not mean the water in creeks, streams, or lakes is okay to drink. Assume that various microscopic parasites could be present in natural water sources, especially in areas or where animals frequent. If boiling water, be prepared with enough fuel to boil for up to two minutes. If you bring a filter, make sure it is easy to use, and will remove disease-causing organisms, like Giardia. Keep in mind filters may not work well in freezing temperatures. To prevent clogging your filter, avoid silty glacial water or let the silt settle in a water bottle and then filter the water from the top.
Daylight: You may have heard of Alaska as the Land of the Midnight Sun and in the summer, it truly is! During the summertime, there is much more daylight for hiking. On the longest day of the year, Alaska may have approximately 14-24 hours of sunlight. During the spring and fall, areas can lose several minutes of light per day. Winter days are significantly shorter, with the shortest day having approximately 0-5 hours of sunlight. Be mindful that the actual amount of daylight varies with surrounding mountains. In areas with tall mountains, it is often dark well before sunset and remains dark until well after sunrise. If you'll be hiking in spring, fall, or winter, don't forget your headlamp!
Mosquitos/biting insects: Mosquitos and other biting insects are common in Alaska. Be prepared with bug repellent and bug nets or use hats, long sleeve shirts and pants as a physical barrier to keep insects away from your skin.
Satellite messengers can be useful in the event of an emergency, but also have a back-up plan with your air taxi or your scheduled pick up. Leave a trip plan that includes a few alternative routes with someone who will know when you're overdue. Satellite messengers may be rented at certain outfitters throughout Alaska to add another layer of security.