Cabin & Campsite Reservations
Some campsites in the Chugach can be reserved in advance, and public-use cabins are available only by reservation. The National Recreation Reservation Service works well, but it is operated from upstate New York, so reservation agents are not the best people to ask for information about which remote cabin or campground is right for you. Instead, use the Chugach National Forest website (www.fs.usda.gov/chugach) and follow up with questions with the ranger stations. The easiest way to reserve a cabin or campsite is online at www.recreation.gov, because the availability calendars allow you to shop for open days at various places. To reserve by phone, call tel. 877/444-6777 or 518/885-3639. The phone lines are open March through October daily 10am to midnight Eastern time, November through February 10am to 10pm. The system accepts payment by debit or credit card: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa. All reservations open 180 days ahead on a first-come, first-served basis.
Chugach National Forest maintains more than 40 remote recreation cabins for rent to the public. This is simple shelter: Cabins don't have electricity or plumbing; you bring your own sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and other gear; and the cabin is only as clean as the last user left it. But no other room you can rent has a better location or greater privacy. Some cabins are along hiking and skiing trails, others on shores where boats and kayaks can pull up, and others on remote fishing lakes accessible only by floatplane. You can stay up to a week in most, with a summer limit of 3 days in the Resurrection Trail cabins.
The Forest Service produces descriptions of each cabin online or in printed form. You will also need a trail guide and detailed map. Some cabins rent for $35 a night, most for $45 a night. Typically, the price of the cabin itself is not your major expense: You'll need a way to get there, either by plane, by boat, or by having a vehicle to drive to a trail head and then hiking. If you're flying, contact flight services in the nearest town (listed in the sections later in this chapter) to find out the cost before you book the cabin. Flight time is several hundred dollars an hour. You can rent the camping equipment at companies in Anchorage, but you should talk to a ranger first to get details about access and what to take. And start planning early. For summer dates, many cabins book up the second they become available on the reservation system, 6 months prior. This is not an exaggeration. Reservation details are above.
Forest Service campgrounds mostly have pit toilets and water from hand pumps, and roads usually are not paved. But some of these places are truly spectacular. I've listed them in order of distance from Anchorage, counting in reverse direction on the Seward Highway mileposts. For information on campgrounds below mile 60, call the Seward Ranger District; for the others, call the Glacier Ranger District, in Girdwood. Sites in a few of the following campgrounds, as noted, take reservations through the national system explained above. RVs and cars can access and park at all of the campgrounds.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.