Park Condition Reports
Last Update: September 10, 2019
PARK OPENING DATES
TRAIL REPORTS & PARK CONDITIONS
Chugach State Park - March 29
Chena River State Recreation Area - April 19
Caines Head State Recreation Area - August 23
Denali State Park - September 6
Hatcher Pass East Mgmt. Area & Summit Lake SRS - September 18
Kachemak Bay State Park - September 12
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area - September 10
Latest News Releases
Wildfire Restrictions and Closures
Updated Press Release on Kenai River Openings 9/17/2019 (9/17/19)
Updated map from joint release on 9/9/2019 Swan Lake AK (9/12/19)
Director's Orders Regarding Closure of the Kenai River Special Management Area, From Jim's Landing to Skilak Lake and a Channel on the South Side of the River from Approximately RM 69.5 to RM 71.5 to All Boating Traffic (9/9/19)
Director's Order Regarding Modified Closure of the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area S. Rolly Lake Campground and Vicinity Closed to All Access and Recreation Activities (8/27/19)
Division of Forestry issues emergency burn closure for Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su Valley (8/21/19)
Director's Order Regarding The Closure of the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area to All Recreation Activities (8/20/19)
Director's Order Regarding the closure of the Kenai River Special Management Area, From Cooper Landing Boat Launch to Skilak Lake to All Boating Traffic (8/18/19)
Director's Orders Regarding Various State Park Fees
Agencies Open Areas to the Public for Recreation Access
Effective 12:01am on Tuesday, September 10, 2019
September 10, 2019 – Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks announces the reopening of a portion of the Upper Kenai River previously closed to support firefighting operations. As of 12:01am on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 the Kenai River between the state boat launch at the Cooper Landing bridge and Jim’s Landing will reopen to public use with the exception of the continued closure of a channel on the south side othfe river from approximately River Mile 69.5 to River Mile 71.5 will also be closed to support firefighting activity. The previous daytime limitation on this river use has also been removed, allowing for 24 hour public use.
The U.S. Forest Service Chugach National Forest is opening the Russian River Campground, Russian Lake Trail, Russian River Falls, Barber Cabin, and the K’Beq Day Use Area for public use. This opening will occur at the same time as the Kenai River reopening: 12:01am on September 10, 2019. Although this area has not been directly affected by fire, stay aware of the firefighting personnel and equipment still active on roads and lands nearby. Visit the Chugach National Forest website https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/chugach/home for details.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is opening the following areas to limited use as of 12:01am on September 10, 2019: Jim’s Landing for day use of the boat launch, the overflow parking lot north of the Sterling Highway at the Visitor Contact Station, and Lower Skilak Boat Launch for boat launch access. The Kenai River remains closed beyond Jim’s Landing to Skilak Lake for public safety and in support of firefighting efforts. All boats must exit the river at Jim’s Landing. On the west side of Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, Lower Skilak campground and day use facility remains closed to public use. Skilak Lake Road from the west entrance at mp 75.2 of Sterling Highway will be opened to allow access to the Lower Skilak boat launch but all lands off the road, trailheads including Marsh Lake and Day Use facilities including Bottenintnin Lake remain closed. Additionally all refuge lands that have been burned are closed to public access. Consult the attached closure order for more details.
This reopening of some portions of the Kenai River, Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge includes some areas that were burned by the Swan Lake Fire. Hazards exist in these burned areas that can be hard to see. Standing trees can be weakened as the fire burns the organic duff layer surrounding their roots. Very light wind or just shifting soils can cause these trees to fall without warning. The fire has burned very deep in some places, leaving ash pits behind. What appears to be solid ground can be empty space still holding heat that is able to cause severe burns. No Refuge lands, trails or day use areas are reopened for visitor use beyond these two boat launches. Avoid these burned areas until fire crews have been able to evaluate them for your safety.
Although fire danger has decreased over much of the Kenai Peninsula, residents and visitors should remain aware and prepared. More information, detailed maps, and public safety information can be found online at kpboem.com or by visiting the official website for Chugach National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/chugach/) and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (kenai.fws.gov). For statewide fire information, visit the AICC website at https://fire.ak.blm.gov/ or http://www.akfireinfo.com.
Albert Loop Trail at Eagle River Nature Center is temporarily closed
August 15, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Bears have returned to the area around Eagle River Nature Center to feed on spawning salmon. As a result, Alaska State Parks is closing the Albert Loop Trail and its vicinity, effective at 9:00 am FRI August 16. Black and brown bears use the bridges and beaver dams as fishing platforms and remain close to developed areas.
This closure does not affect the Iditarod/Crow Pass trail, the Rodak Loop and viewing platforms, or the Dew Mound Trail. Reopening of the Albert Loop trail will be announced and most likely will happen at freeze-up when most bears go into hibernation. This seasonal closure has occurred since 1997.
Anyone recreating in Chugach State Park is encouraged to take appropriate bear-aware precautions and be prepared to encounter bears and other wild animals.
CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, Chugach State Park Superintendent, 907-345-5014, firstname.lastname@example.org
State campfire closure in Southcentral Alaska to end Thursday
July 17, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – With wildfire danger moderating as a result of cooler, moister weather, the Alaska Division of Forestry will end campfire closures on state, private and municipal lands in Southcentral Alaska, effective 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18.
A similar state campfire closure was lifted for the northern half of Alaska on Sunday after cooler, wetter weather lessened wildfire danger in that region.
Reversal of the Southcentral Alaska closure means campfires under three feet in diameter will be allowed in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Copper River Basin and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. While campfires will be allowed in designated fire pits and rings in state campgrounds within the Municipality of Anchorage, the Municipality is retaining its ban on outdoor fires within the rest of the Municipality.
Likewise, while campfire closures are being lifted on state, municipal and private lands, campfire restrictions imposed on federal land by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or other federal agencies are being retained. The public needs to check with the appropriate federal agency to determine whether fire restrictions are in place on any specific federal land.
Today’s lifting of the state campfire closure in Southcentral Alaska does not affect burn suspensions issued by local state forestry offices, however. Burn suspensions for local-area forestry offices are evaluated daily. People must check with their local state forestry office, or go online at http://forestry.alaska.gov/burn to determine if there is a burn suspension in effect in their area.
Campfires under three feet in diameter are allowed during a burn suspension, but open debris burning and the use of burn barrels are prohibited. As of Wednesday, burn suspensions remained in effect for the Copper River, Fairbanks, Kenai and Mat-Su areas.
Even though the campfire closure is no longer in effect, those using camp, warming or cooking fires should continue to be vigilant to ensure they are burning safely. Campfires must be less than three feet in diameter, and one should have water and tools nearby to keep them contained. Fires should never be left unattended and must be completely extinguished before leaving the site, by drowning the fire repeatedly with water and stirring it with a stick or shovel until it is cold to the touch. Fires over three feet in diameter require either a small- or large-scale burn permit from the Alaska Division of Forestry.
As of Wednesday, there were 205 active wildfires burning in Alaska, with more than 2,100 firefighting personnel working to contain them. Given the large number of fires and limited firefighting resources, the Division of Forestry implores Alaskans and visitors alike to be extremely careful using any kind of fire and to follow any and all burning restrictions. For more about burn permit suspensions, closures, and safe burning practices, go to http://forestry.alaska.gov/Assets/pdfs/home/Safe%20burning%20practices.pdf
CONTACT: Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry public information officer, (907) 356-5511, email@example.com
Volunteer Events Coming up
July 15, 2019 (Homer, AK) --
Thanks to everyone who has already spent time helping out in the park this summer, including those who wrangled visiting family members and friends to lend a hand! We depend on the dedication and enthusiasm of community members in order to maintain our trails, so thank you!
Here are several upcoming opportunities. If you can help, we'd love to hear from you!
1. July 17, 19 & 20, 8am-5pm - 4 individuals needed to help brush a section of the Saddle trail or the Glacier Lake trail. Moderate project working alongside park specialist Eric Clarke and a great opportunity to help make trails more accessible all summer long. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm the day prior to your preferred work party date.
(Please note: We are looking for volunteers to spend a day across the bay with park specialist, Eric Clarke, brushing various trails all summer long, using a brusher (large weed whacker), with training and equipment provided on site. This is a great opportunity to spend time in our park and help out in a way that has an immediate impact for making our local trails more accessible. If you can help this week, next week or have any time through August, please let us know your availability, and thanks!)
2. July 22, 8am or 4pm to July 23, 8am or 5pm (Time flexibility depending on volunteer availability) - 4 individuals needed to help our Halibut Cove Ranger Station hosts brush and swamp a section of the China Poot Bay trail. This can be a day or overnight project depending on volunteer availability, with our preferred timeframe being an overnight work party from July 22, 8am to July 23, 5pm. Volunteers will spend the night in the ranger station bunkhouse with full use of the cookshack, and need to bring their own food and sleeping bag. (If we have volunteer names ahead of time, we can help coordinate meal planning!) This is a moderate work project working alongside the ranger station hosts. Overnight work party will allow for time for personal hiking, berry picking and relaxing in this gorgeous area of the park. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm on July 21.
3. August 19, 8am or 4pm to August 20, 8am or 5pm (Time flexibility depending on volunteer availability) - 4 individuals needed to help our Halibut Cove Ranger Station hosts paint buildings and remove old appliances and garbage. This can be a day or overnight project depending on volunteer availability, with our preferred timeframe being an overnight work party from August 19, 8am to August 20, 5pm, with volunteers spending the night in the ranger station bunkhouse with full use of the cookshack. Volunteers will need to bring their own food and sleeping bag. This is a moderate work project working alongside the ranger station hosts. Overnight work party will allow for time for personal hiking, berry picking and relaxing in this gorgeous area of the park. All equipment and training will be provided on site. Volunteers will be transported on a state park boat. Please sign up by 5pm on August 18.
CONTACT: Christina Whiting, Volunteer Coordinator, Kachemak Bay State Park, 907-435-7969
Parks, Forestry extend ban on campfires in Interior, Southcentral
July 9, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – No campfires will be allowed on state, private or municipal lands in Southcentral and Interior Alaska starting today, according to state forestry and parks officials who said extreme wildfire danger demands they preempt potential new ignition sources.
The joint orders from directors of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation come as thousands of firefighters from Alaska and the Lower 48 are battling blazes in Southcentral and Interior Alaska that have imperiled buildings, and threatened hundreds of residents with evacuation from their homes.
"Conditions are almost perfect for the smallest spark to quickly become a large, dangerous wildfire," said Chris Maisch, director of the Alaska Division of Forestry. "There are hundreds of people putting their lives on the line dealing with the fires we have, and we simply can't risk creating more."
All campfires in the region, even those in established fire pits or rings in designated state campgrounds, are prohibited until further notice. This includes cooking, warming or signaling fires. The restriction does not apply to charcoal grills, gas grills and backpacking or camp stoves that use fuel or compressed canisters.
Burn suspensions for burn permits will also remain in place, prohibiting open debris burning and the use of burn barrels in Division of Forestry protection areas. The suspensions will stay in place until conditions moderate.
The ban applies to the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Denali Borough, Glennallen south to Valdez, and the Tanana Valley, including Delta, Nenana, Northway, Tanacross, Tok and surrounding communities.
As of Tuesday, there were 117 active wildfires in Alaska, 24 of which are staffed with more than 2,000 firefighting personnel, most of them from the Lower 48. To date this season, 392 wildfires have burned an estimated 1,026,725 acres in Alaska.
"I can't emphasize enough that we each have to do our part to keep Alaska campers, residents, firefighters and others safe from wildfire," said Ricky Gease, director of Alaska State Parks. "We must all be fire smart today, so we can enjoy Alaska's outdoors well into the future."
Anyone affected by the burning restriction order may appeal it by July 28, by delivering an appeal to DNR Commissioner Corri A. Feige by mail at 550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1400, Anchorage, AK 99501-3561; by fax to 907-269-8918; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For statewide fire information, visit the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center website at: https://fire.ak.blm.gov/ or he Alaska Wildland Fire Information website at http://www.akfireinfo.com
CONTACT: Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry public information officer, (907) 356-5511, email@example.com
Trail Crew Member still needed for Kachemak Bay State Park
June 27, 2019 (Homer, AK) – Kachemak Bay State Park is seeking trail crew members for a trail repair/improvement project. Desired experience: Sustainable trail construction and/or trail maintenance; Chainsaw and brushcutter operation; Familiarity with a variety of trail hand tools; Crew camping for extended amount of time. This is a field position, working outdoors in all types of weather. All candidates must have a strong work ethic, be able to work/live with others in remote settings, be able to lift and hike up to 60 lbs. over difficult terrain, and operate hand and power trail tools. Wilderness firstaid/ CPR desired. For more information contact Eric Clarke at Alaska State Parks, Homer Office at 226-4687 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Season: ASAP – September 30th
Starting at $15.00/Hour
Taking applications until position is filled
Send or email resume and Alaska Conservation Corps Application to:
ALASKA STATE PARKS
ATTN: ERIC CLARKE
95 S TERLING HWY., STE. 2
HOMER AK, 99603
CONTACT: Eric Clarke, 907-226-4687, email@example.com
Eagle River Campground Opening 5:00 PM
June 7, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Eagle River Campground will be OPEN for the season starting at 5:00 PM. Earthquake damaged road repair is completed.
CONTACT: Kurt Hensel, 907-345-5014, firstname.lastname@example.org
Earthquake damage closes Eagle River Campground and access road
April 24, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – The Eagle River Campground is closed until further notice due to damage to its access road from the November 30, 2018 earthquake.
The earthquake left a large fissure in the road that provides the only access to the campground, located off Hiland Road in Eagle River. Frozen ground, combined with recent snows, make it impossible to know the full extent of the damage or accurately assess the dangers to the public from using the road.
The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation will assess the condition of the road as soon as the ground thaws, and is working through the contracting process to fix the road and open the campground as soon as possible.
CONTACT: Director Ricky Gease 907-269-8701, email@example.com
Two state campgrounds closed due to bark beetle-infested trees
April 9, 2019 (Palmer, AK) – Alaska State Parks has closed two campgrounds in Denali State Park and Nancy Lake State Recreation Area over concerns that spruce bark beetle-infested trees pose a risk to the health and safety of recreationists.
The Byers Lake Campground located in Denali State Park and the South Rolly Campground in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area will remain closed while the agency coordinates efforts to mitigate the significant hazards posed by beetle-infested trees. The campgrounds will likely remain closed for much of this summer, and possibly into next year.
"These trees represent a significant safety issue for campers and visitors,” said Alaska State Parks Director Ricky Gease. “We have been experienced a number of rotten trees falling over in the campgrounds this season, and while the timing is unfortunate, we need to take action now to reduce this hazard and help make our parks safer."
Pending approval of federal funds for the work, the Department of Natural Resources will contract with private business to cut down and remove the affected trees to reduce hazards to more than 100 campsites at the two affected campgrounds, and minimize the effect on residents and visitors. The state’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Division of Forestry are working together to pursue funding for the work.
To reduce the risk of spreading the beetle infestation, tree felling, chipping and removal must be timed to take advantage of colder weather conditions. While crews will be moving as quickly as possible to remove all the hazard trees and reopen campgrounds in a timely fashion, the campgrounds will be closed until the work is complete.
The closure will affect the following areas and trails:
Denali State Park
• Byers Lake Campground
• Byers Lake Trail
• Cascade Trail
• (Note: Byers Lake public use cabins will remain open, but access will be restricted. Parking is available at the Alaska Veterans Memorial with a trail walk into the site. No motor vehicle access is allowed beyond the Veterans Memorial.)
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area
• South Rolly Lake Campground (Note: Parking allowed to access trailhead only. Public use cabins will still be available.
For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit our website: alaskastateparks.org, or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
CONTACT: Stuart Leidner, (907) 745-8935, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska State Parks to refocus Recreational Trails Program funds
April 8, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks will address a significant backlog in deferred maintenance on trails inside state parks by directing an estimated $1.2 million in federal trails grants to the work this year.
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federal program that provides reimbursable, matching funds to states so they can develop and repair recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.
"In an effort to maximize our resources and streamline our processes, we are looking for more efficient ways to fulfill our mission to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the people of Alaska, and to those that visit here," said State Parks Director Ricky Gease. "We need to start with our state park trails, which have been neglected for too long."
The grant program is managed by the Federal Highway Administration in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR). The division has historically divided the grant funds by spending approximately half internally, and providing half to trail projects sponsored by other organizations in communities statewide.
Starting July 1, however, Alaska State Parks will use the entire federal allocation of RTP funds to support the long list of deferred maintenance of trails and trail infrastructure inside state park units. This money will continue to benefit the public and support trails for trail users of all kinds.
CONTACT: DPOR Director Ricky Gease, 907-269-8701, email@example.com
Chena River State Recreation Area trail access limited until dry
April 3, 2019 (Fairbanks, AK) – Several trails in the Chena River State Recreation Area will be closed to all uses except foot travel, to allow them time to dry out during this season’s early melt.
The Compeau, Stiles and Angel Creek Hillside trails will be closed on April 10, about 10 days earlier than normal due to an early seasonal melt. They are scheduled to reopen on May 23 or sooner, depending on weather and trail conditions.
In order to protect the state’s investment and sustain summer use of these popular trails, it is necessary to allow the trails to thaw and the water to disperse without disturbance.
Other trails that are seasonally closed in the recreation area include the East Fork, Colorado Creek, and Angel Creek Valley trails. These are winter-only trails and open to snowmachine use from October 15 to April 10.
Alaska State Parks is reluctant to restrict any uses unless there are no other viable management alternatives. In such cases, the benefits of protecting the usefulness of these trails outweigh the inconveniences of seasonal restrictions.
Park managers urge trail users to respect the integrity of the trails so all may continue to enjoy them. Violations may be reported to the State Parks office at 451-2695 during the day. During evenings and weekends, call Alaska State Troopers and they will contact the park enforcement team.
CONTACT: Brooks Ludwig, 451-2698, firstname.lastname@example.org
State Parks receives trail grooming grant for Independence Mine
March 11, 2019 (Palmer, AK) – The Mat Su/Copper River Basin area of Alaska State Parks has received a $15,000 grooming grant for cross-country skiing trails at Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Located in Hatcher Pass, the Independence Mine park registers about 10,000 user-days each winter. This grant from Friends of State Parks (FoSP), Mat-Su will help park managers achieve their goal of providing groomed trails, said Superintendent Stuart Leidner.
“We are grateful that Friends of State Parks, Mat-Su provided this grant this year, which will help us keep over 5 kilometers of cross-country ski trails groomed at the Independence Mine area for the remainder of the 2019 season,” Leidner said. “Such grooming is not always guaranteed, in the face of limited funds for park operations overall, and for trail grooming specifically,” he added.
The Independence Mine park is a beloved recreation destination for Alaska residents, providing excellent year-round access for outdoor enthusiasts. It is a popular winter destination and often has some of Southcentral Alaska’s earliest snow.
Friends of State Parks, Mat-Su was founded in 2000. As a registered 501(c)3, the group works to enhance and protect the natural, historical and recreational resources within state park units of the Mat-Su/Copper River basin. FoSP fundraising has grown to provide more than $150,000 in grants to support Mat-Su State Parks and recreational areas. More information is available at: www.fospmatus.org.
For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit: alaskastateparks.org or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
CONTACT: Stuart Leidner, (907) 745-8935, email@example.com
Alaska State Parks welcomes first "Park Ambassador"
February 11, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – In an effort to grow family-friendly opportunities and encourage more visitors to Alaska State Parks, the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is introducing its first State Parks Ambassador program and volunteer Park Ambassador, Erin Kirkland of "AKontheGo."
As Park Ambassador, Kirkland will partner with Alaska State Parks in planning and promoting kid-friendly events and activities, showcasing the State Park system’s resources for families and kids, and encouraging families to get outdoors.
"A partnership like this allows us to highlight all that our park areas hold for kids and families," said Matt Wedeking, operations manager of the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. "I'm excited to see where this new partnership leads."
Kirkland is a freelance journalist, publishing the well-known family travel and outdoor website AKontheGO.com. She is the author of the “Alaska On the Go” guidebook series, and an avid supporter of Alaska’s State Parks, especially for families.
“I’m thrilled to be working with State Park leadership to help more kids and parents discover what’s possible in Alaska’s State Park system,” she said.
Kirkland and Alaska State Parks are currently planning a “Kids to Parks” event for May 18, 2019 and a Family Adventure Day in August. Follow “AKontheGO” and Alaska State Parks on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on these events and more.
For more information on Alaska State Parks, visit our website: alaskastateparks.org or find us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
CONTACT: Wendy Sailors, (907) 269-8738, firstname.lastname@example.org