John Muir once said “To the lover of the wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries of the world.” We have found that this sentiment rings true for all adventure seekers who travel to or live in Alaska for a taste of the great outdoors!
Alaska is a land of breathtaking beauty, where rugged landscapes and untamed wilderness offer a unique experience for adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you are looking to explore the state’s glaciers, fjords, and rugged coastline, or to enjoy its abundant wildlife, Alaska offers a variety of camping options for visitors who want to get up close and personal with the great outdoors.
Even for those who are not outdoorsy at heart, there is something special about camping in Alaska’s beautiful wilderness. In fact, nearly 66% of Alaska is public land, meaning there is lots of opportunity for camping in a variety of Alaska’s beautiful destinations.
One of the best things about camping in Alaska is that there are plenty of opportunities for free camping, which makes it possible for visitors to enjoy all that this stunning state has to offer without breaking the bank.
We have done much of the legwork for you, and rounded up the best free camping spots across the state of Alaska! Here are some of the best free camping options available in Alaska:
Boondocking: What Is It?
When researching potential campgrounds and camping spots in Alaska, you may hear the term “boondocking”.
Boondocking, or camping without hookups, is another popular free camping option in Alaska. Visitors can find boondocking spots on public lands, such as national forests, as well as in remote areas along the highways.
The most popular way to boondock is to camp in highway pull-outs. It is a free and a no-frills way to camp if you are looking to connect with nature. There will be no grills, electricity, or any other amenities, but hey – it does not cost a cent!
Seward Highway Pullouts
The Seward Highway is known by those in the know as the Seward Scenic Highway, making it a great place to camp for free! This is one of the more popular place to boondock in the state.
This highway begins in Anchorage, making it an easy and convenient starting destination. It’s a long windy road for 127 miles down toward Seward, with plenty of pullouts and free camping spots along the way.
The only drawback? If you park in one of the pullouts close to Anchorage, park on the mountainside, farther away from the Turnagain Arm. While the view isn’t quite as nice, you are less likely to be woken up by a very late night or early morning train crossing the tracks just feet from where you sleep! It is guaranteed to be a rude awakening.
Glenn Highway Pullouts
The Glenn Highway is a scenic highway that runs from Anchorage to Glennallen in Alaska, passing through some of the state’s most stunning landscapes, including glaciers, mountains, and wildlife habitats.
There are a number of pull-off areas along the highway that offer scenic views and opportunities for boondocking, but it is important to note that boondocking in these areas is limited to overnight stays only.
When boondocking along the Glenn Highway, it is important to be self-sufficient and bring your own water, power, and waste disposal systems, as there are no hookups available. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for Alaska’s harsh weather conditions, with warm clothing, a good quality tent, and a reliable camping stove.
It’s also important to be mindful of the environment and wildlife when boondocking along the Glenn Highway. This means following “Leave-No-Trace” principles, respecting the wildlife and its habitats, and following safe food storage practices to avoid attracting bears and other large animals.
The Glenn Highway offers great places to spend the night, especially for RVers and those who sleep in their car overnight.
Alaska Rest Areas
Did you know that overnight parking is available at all of Alaska’s Rest Areas?
Camping at rest areas is a popular and convenient option for travelers in Alaska. With its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, Alaska offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure, and rest areas provide a convenient and affordable place to spend the night while you are exploring the state.
Alaska has a number of rest areas along its highways, providing travelers with a convenient place to stop and rest. These rest areas are typically located near popular tourist destinations, such as glaciers, parks, and wildlife viewing areas, making them a great starting point for your adventure.
Rest areas in Alaska offer basic amenities, such as picnic tables, fire pits, and toilets, but they do not offer hookups for RVs or campers. Some rest areas have running water, but it is always best to bring your own water and be prepared for primitive camping conditions. Tent camping is not usually an option, but you can spend the night in your car or RV.
Rest areas in Alaska typically allow overnight camping, but it is important to check with the local authorities to confirm the length of stay allowed at each location. Some rest areas may have specific rules and regulations regarding camping, such as a maximum stay limit or a ban on campfires.
Spending the night at rest areas in Alaska is typically free, making it an affordable and convenient option for travelers. However, some rest areas may charge a fee for amenities such as dump stations or showers, so it is always a good idea to check with the local authorities for the most up-to-date information.
Staying overnight at rest areas in Alaska provides a convenient and affordable option for travelers who want to experience all that this stunning state has to offer, on a budget.
Free Overnight Camping At Cabela’s
Cabela’s is a popular outdoor and hunting retail chain in the United States, and many of its locations offer free overnight parking for RVs and campers.
These locations typically have large parking lots with plenty of space for overnight camping, and they provide a safe and secure place to set up your rig.
It is important to note that boondocking at Cabela’s is limited to overnight stays only, and campers must be self-sufficient, as there are no hookups available. This means that you will need to bring your own water, power, and waste disposal systems, and be prepared to live off-the-grid for a night.
Overnight parking at Cabela’s is permitted but not multiple nights.
When boondocking at Cabela’s, it is also important to be respectful of the property and the surrounding community. This means following quiet hours, respecting the environment, and keeping the area clean.
Boondocking at Cabela’s is a great option for RVers and campers who are looking for a free, convenient place to camp overnight. With its large parking lots, security, and easy access to supplies and amenities, Cabela’s provides a safe and secure place to set up your rig and enjoy a night under the stars.
Cabela’s – Anchorage
- Address: 155 W 104th Ave Anchorage AK 99501
- Phone: (907) 341-3400
- Website: cabelas.com
Free Overnight Camping At Walmart
Many Walmart stores across the United States allow overnight RV parking, and this is a convenient and affordable option for travelers who are on a budget. However, it’s important to note that not all Walmart stores allow overnight camping, and it’s always a good idea to check with the store before setting up camp.
Walmart’s policy regarding overnight RV parking in their lots.
When boondocking at Walmart, it’s important to be self-sufficient and bring your own water, power, and waste disposal systems, as there are no hookups available. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of the store’s hours of operation and follow the store’s rules and regulations regarding overnight camping.
There is free boondocking available at all of the Walmart locations in Alaska except Anchorage.
Currently, Anchorage is not allowing overnight stays at the Walmart parking lots. You have to use a campground inside Anchorage, or head just out of town on a pullout on the Seward or Glenn Highway.
The quietest, and therefore our favorite Walmarts to boondock at, are at three different locations. The Kenai, Eagle River location, and the Fairbanks locations all offer great opportunities for overnight stays.
Make sure to find a spot in the parking lot away from the main entrance to keep it quiet! And be respectful of others cars and RVers in the lot.
Exit Glacier Road – Seward, Alaska
If you are looking for an affordable camping spots, head from Anchorage to Seward, then check out Exit Glacier Road. You will find some amazing free camping spots right along the road along the riverside.
Exit Glacier is one of Alaska’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. This stunning glacier, located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, offers visitors a chance to experience the majesty of Alaska’s glaciers up close and personal.
If you are planning a trip to Exit Glacier, you will find that there are plenty of free camping options available along the road, making it easy to experience the beauty of this unique landscape without breaking the bank.
The road runs right parallel to Resurrection River, which is fed by glacier runoff from Exit Glacier. There are quite a few hidden pullouts along the roadside.
Because of its proximity to the river, the rushing water makes a nice cover for the vehicle noise along the road. With beautiful morning views, and an easy walk to the river from your camping spot, this is an excellent spot for free camping in Alaska.
Spaces fill up fast, so make sure to get there on the earlier side if you want to spend the night. And weekends are busy too, so head out on a Thursday night if you are able to.
Little Nelchina State Recreation Area
There are several areas in the Little Nelchina State Recreation Area that offer free camping!
The Little Nelchina State Recreation Area is a popular camping destination for outdoor enthusiasts in Alaska. This scenic recreation area is located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and offers a range of recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Camping at Little Nelchina State Recreation Area is a great way to experience the beauty of Alaska’s wilderness, and there are a variety of camping options available to suit different needs. The park offers several campgrounds with a variety of sites, including RV sites, tent sites, and cabin rentals. These campgrounds typically have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and potable water, and some also offer electrical and sewage hookups.
For those looking for a more rugged camping experience, the park also offers several backcountry campsites that are accessible only by boat or on foot. These sites are typically more remote and offer a greater sense of solitude, but they also require more preparation and gear.
Select from one of the six camp spots at an elevation of 2,395 feet. There are vault restrooms available, as well as areas for fishing and recreational trails.
- Address: Google Maps Location (61°59’23.1″N 146°56’47.7″W)
Tetlin Wildlife Reserve
Camping at Lakeview Campground is a great way to experience the rugged wilderness of Alaska, and there are a variety of camping options available to suit different needs and budgets.
The campground offers a number of campsites, including RV sites and tent sites, as well as cabin rentals. These sites typically have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and potable water, and some also offer electrical and sewage hookups.
In addition to camping, the Tetlin Wildlife Reserve offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and boating.
Visitors to the reserve can spot a variety of wildlife, including moose, caribou, and migratory birds, and there are several hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
If you are traveling by RV, the Lakeview Campground on the Tetlin Wildlife Reserve is a free destination. You will have an assigned camp spot and access to trash and toilet facilities. They offer tent camping and backcountry camping for free as well.
Lakeview is not recommended for trailers, 5th wheels or RVs over 30 feet, and there is no drinking water available at the campground.
Tetlin Wildlife Reserve
- Address: Lakeview Campground Mile 1.3 Borealis Avenue Tok, AK 99780
- Website: fws.gov
Deadman Lake Campground
Also in the Tetlin Wildlife Reserve, you will find Deadman Lake Campground. Despite the scary name, this sweet campground has a lot of fun activities to do.
Guides are happy to answer questions and share information about the area. There are picnic tables and well-maintained toilets. They even have six canoes that are free to use!
Deadman Lake Campground has 15 campsites available, and 4 sites are suitable for large motor homes up to 40 feet in length.
You can also take the self-guided ¼-mile Taiga Trail. This gorgeous hike is an easy boardwalk trail. From the observation deck at the end of the trail you may even see waterfowl on the lake!
Deadman Lake Campground
- Address: Deadman Lake Campground Rd Northway, AK 99764
Galbraith Lake Campground – North Slope Borough, Alaska
Heading further north? The Galbraith Lake Campground is a great place to park it for a few days with beautiful views as your backdrop at 12 undeveloped campsites.
The Galbraith Lake Campground in the North Slope Borough of Alaska is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience the state’s rugged wilderness and abundant wildlife.
About 1% of people who travel to Alaska go this far north!
The campground is located on the shores of Galbraith Lake and is surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Brooks Range, making it a prime location for fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
In addition to camping, the North Slope Borough offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and boating. Visitors to the area can spot a variety of wildlife, including caribou, grizzly bears, and migratory birds. Be bear aware while you camp in this remote location.
The Galbraith Lake Campground is all that remains of a huge glacial lake. Head downstream to see the Atigun Gorge.
Galbraith Lake Campgorund is pretty remote. To get there from Fairbanks, you will need to travel north a total of 84 miles on the Steese and Elliott Highways to the Dalton Highway Junction. Then turn right onto the Dalton Highway.
Continue to milepost 275 before you turn left onto Galbraith Airport Road, pass the series of buildings on your left, and follow the unimproved gravel road another 2.5 miles to the campground. You have arrived!
Galbraith Lake Campground
- Phone: (907) 474-2200
- Website: blm.gov
National Forests In Alaska
The Tongass and Chugach National Forests both offer free camping, and visitors can find free campsites scattered throughout the forests, many of which are only accessible by boat or plane. These remote campsites offer a true wilderness experience, with no amenities and limited access to potable water.
One popular option for free camping in Alaska’s national forests is backcountry camping. This type of camping involves setting up camp in a remote location, away from developed campgrounds and amenities.
Backcountry camping is allowed in many national forest lands in Alaska, but it is important to check with the local ranger district office for any specific regulations and restrictions. You may need a permit to backcountry camp in some areas in Alaska.
When camping in the Alaska national forests, it is important to follow Leave No Trace principles, such as practicing responsible waste management, respecting wildlife and their habitats, and following safe food storage practices to avoid attracting bears and other large animals.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to be prepared for Alaska’s unpredictable weather conditions, with warm clothing, a good quality tent, and a reliable camping stove. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan on arriving back home. This can help for any search and rescue needs that may arise.
The two national forests in Alaska are the Chugach National Forest and the Tongass National Forest. The Chugach National Forest covers over 5 million acres and is home to a variety of landscapes, from glaciers and fjords to forests and wetlands.
The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States, covering over 17 million acres, and offers a wealth of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Free camping in Alaska’s national forests is a great option for visitors looking to experience the state’s breathtaking wilderness on a budget.
Alaska State Parks Offer Free Camping
Alaska state parks offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping.
While some state parks in Alaska do offer paid camping options, there are also several opportunities for free camping.
One popular option for free camping in Alaska state parks is backcountry camping, just like in the national forests. Backcountry camping is allowed in many Alaska state parks, but it’s important to check with the local park office for any specific regulations and restrictions, and whether you will need to purchase a permit.
Some of the popular Alaska state parks for free camping include:
- Chugach State Park
- Kachemak Bay State Park
- Pioneer Ridge State Recreation Site
The Chugach State Park covers over 495,000 acres and offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
The Kachemak Bay State Park covers over 470,000 acres and is known for its beautiful landscapes, including glaciers, forests, and shorelines.
The Pioneer Ridge State Recreation Site offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, as well as opportunities for fishing and hiking.
These parks are a great option for those who want to enjoy the scenic beauty of Alaska, as they offer stunning views of glaciers, fjords, and mountains. Some may be hard to access, and only available to be reached by boat or plane, so plan accordingly.
Whiskey Gulch Campground
Off the Sterling Highway, the Whiskey Gulch Campground lies between Soldtona and Homer.
Camp directly on the beach and wake up each morning to gorgeous ocean views! This free camping spot does have a 14 day limit, but that should be plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings.
The snow capped volcano peaks in the distance frame a beautiful view. There is even a porta potty available for your visit, but otherwise you should expect to bring everything you need with you, including all water and supplies.
If you have an RV, be prepared for driving on off-road conditions. Some travelers say they even have full cell service, so turn on the tunes, kick back, and relax.
- Phone: (907) 235-1961
- Address: Whiskey Gulch Spur Rd Anchor Point, AK 99556
Alaska Marine Highway
The Alaska Marine Highway ferry system offers travelers the chance to “camp” on its ferries, which run along the state’s coastal routes. This is a great option for those who want to explore the rugged coastline of Alaska and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Inside Passage.
While not traditional camping, and you can’t spend the night in your car or RV, you can roll out a sleeping bag and pitch your tent on the deck. The tents are allowed on the upper decks.
There are also recliner lounges available that serve as sleeping areas with space to roll out a sleeping bag. The ferries also have covered solariums located on the upper decks of each vessel that are also popular sleeping areas.
If you want to skip the cost of one of the cabins, camping is a better option to utilize the Alaska Marine Ferries!
Alaska Marine Highway
- Phone: (907) 272-4482
- Website: dot.alaska.gov
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Alaska manages over 70 million acres of public land in Alaska, including campgrounds that offer free camping.
Some of these campgrounds have amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, and outhouses, but most are primitive, with little more than a cleared area to set up your tent.
They offer a variety of recreational opportunities, including camping. Many of these lands are open to camping, including both developed campgrounds and backcountry camping areas.
Backcountry camping is the popular (and often only) option for camping on BLM lands in Alaska, allowing visitors to set up camp in remote locations, away from developed campgrounds and amenities. Backcountry camping is allowed in many areas of BLM lands in Alaska, but it is always important to check with the local BLM office or their website for any specific regulations and restrictions.
When camping on BLM lands in Alaska, it important to follow Leave No Trace principles, such as practicing responsible waste management, respecting wildlife and their habitats, and following safe food storage practices to avoid attracting bears and other large animals. You don’t want visitors to your campsite overnight, especially bears.
Some popular BLM lands in Alaska for camping include:
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Noatak National Preserve
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
There are no established campgrounds or camping facilities in the refuge. This area is open to backcountry camping, with some guidelines.
Areas of the park are being trampled from overuse, so try to use a new spot that doesn’t look disruptive or weighted down. Refrain from campfires if at all possible, as trees are scarce within the Arctic Circle. It is better to bring a camping stove than build a fire.
Always practice bear safety and bring bear canisters on your trip. And as always, leave no trace. Pack out everything that you brought with you.
The Noatak National Preserve
The Noatak National Preserve covers over 4.5 million acres and is known for its pristine wilderness and opportunities for adventure, including fishing and rafting. Noatak National Preserve is in northwestern Alaska, that was established to protect the Noatak River Basin.
The free camping available within this preserve is all backcountry camping options. Located within the Arctic Circle, it is incredibly remote, and incredibly beautiful. The preserve includes both boreal forest and tundra, and is home to countless wildlife.
If planning a backcountry camping trip here, do your research and plan accordingly. It could be the trip of a lifetime, but most of the preserve is wilderness, and you will want to ensure you can camp safely.
- Website: nps.gov
The Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve
The Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve covers over 13.2 million acres and is home to glaciers, forests, and rugged mountains, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing.
The free camping allowed in Wrangell-St Elias is primarily backcountry, remote camping within the boundaries of the park and preserve.
The Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve is surrounded by beautiful wilderness, including glaciers, forests, and rugged mountains, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Visitors can explore glaciers, including the popular Root Glacier, and witness the stunning beauty of the park’s natural wonders, including waterfalls, and majestic mountains.
Camping on BLM lands in Alaska is a great option for visitors looking to experience the state’s breathtaking wilderness on a budget.
Bureau of Land Management
- Website: blm.gov
There are plenty of free camping options in Alaska, so visitors can enjoy all that this stunning state has to offer without breaking the bank.
Whether you are looking for a wilderness experience, a chance to explore the scenic beauty of the state, or a convenient place to set up your tent, there is a free camping option for everyone in Alaska.