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Thread: Hiking, Backpacking and Camping in Alaska

  1. #1
    Member DrSpartacus19's Avatar
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    Default Hiking, Backpacking and Camping in Alaska

    Just a pretty basic question; Where do you NEED to have a permit to hike and where don't you? If you are just hiking around outside of national park borders, do you need special permission? Some goes for camping - if you are outside of a park and there is no one around and you are not on anyones land specifically, can you just set up a tent?

    Sorry for the ignorance, but here in Alberta I have done a several multiple day canoing trips where we just set up camp on the side of the river, making sure there was no one around, and camped there for the night.

    Just wondering what its like in Alaska. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Alaska is pretty relaxed with regards to hiking and camping. National Parks are an exception, of course, but if you're on state land you can basically hike and camp anywhere. Make sure you know who owns the land you're on, though, as a lot of road accessible areas have lands that are owned by various Native Corporations. Rules regarding access to these lands are varied and generally not as free as state land.

    When you come up with specific hike ideas, post them here and we'd be happy to help you navigate the few regulations that you need to be aware of.

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    Hiking/camping in Alaska's national parks is pretty much the same drill as Brian describes anywhere else in Alaska. With a few exceptions, there are no requirement for permits, trip plans or any other paperwork on most of the 54 million acres of NPS managed land.

    A few exceptions: Overnight camping in portions of the Denali backcountry requires a permit, and there are user number limits in some units. And there's a permit for Mount McKinley climbing.

    Glacier Bay requires a free permit for backcountry camping in the bay, plus they'll provide a bear resistant food container. Also, there's a separate permit system for running the Alsek River.

    The Chilkoot Trail, part of which is in Klondike Gold Rush NHP and part of which is in Canada, requires a permit for overnight use (to manage numbers in designated campgrounds).

    Brooks Camp at Katmai prohibits camping in the area around the developed bear viewing/fishing area.

    Particularly on extended trips, we recommend filing a trip plan with the NPS unit that you're in, or at least leaving a plan with a couple of different responsible folks who will miss you if you're not back on time. www.nps.gov/alaska has links to the Alaska national parks. Usually the "plan your visit" link will cover the info on permits, recommendations, etc.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Dr. Spartacus, you know how in Skyline and Tonquin and all those other places in JNP you need a backcountry permit and have to camp in designated places??? Well, not the case in most parts of Alaska!! That's what's so beautiful about it. From my year in Alaska I deduced it's a pretty libertarian place; just as Brian says it's pretty laid back, camp where you want but if you end up with a bear in your tent because you didn't stash your food, it's your funeral. The other thing I noticed about Alaska is a lot more of the lands outside State & National parks are privately owned, compared to Alberta. So watch where you hike - it's usually around fishing lakes that are the worst. Some people really like to be left alone.

    I'm flying up there next week and hoping to possibly do Kesugi Ridge... you know the Skyline? Well Kesugi is the Skyline with no designated camp spots... beautiful.

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    Member DrSpartacus19's Avatar
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    Neat - thanks everyone, and northernalberta I have not done Skyline yet, but I plan to in the future. This august i am doing the West Coast Trail with some friends and it is kind of a pain going through all the reservation and permit planning. I am looking forward to having a few more liberties in Alaska.

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