If one of the biggest reasons why you enjoy camping is the feeling of being lost in nature, then there’s nothing quite like Alaska.
Sure, there’s civilization in certain areas of the state, but for the most part, the territory feels truly raw and unclaimed. Where else can you step outside your door and see mountains in front of you, the ocean to one side, and dense forest to the other?
To truly enjoy all that nature, though, you have to get out in it. Exploring the state by van or RV is one of life’s great privileges, but doing so is only enjoyable if you find the right campsite. After all, you don’t want to set camp only to learn the hard way that you’re deep in bear country.
Our favorite place to stay in Alaska is the Diamond M Ranch Resort, as it offers the ability to customize how much you truly want to “rough it.” You can stay in a luxurious suite or shack up in, well, an old shack, so it’s a great fit for glampers and near-primitives alike.
It’s far from the only place worthy of your time, though, and we’ve collected 5 different campsites for you to consider. You don’t have to choose just one, of course — why not hit up all 5 as you make your way across the state?
If you’re trying to satisfy different definitions of the word “camping,” everyone in your group will likely find something to love at this site
Diamond M Ranch Resort offers the perfect compromise between glamping and a more traditional camping experience, as you can make your stay as luxurious as you like — or really live in nature (while still keeping civilization close at hand, of course).
Nestled in the Kenai Peninsula, this RV park is ideal for anyone who desperately wants to experience as much Alaskan wildlife as possible. 90% of the area is still real, honest-to-God wilderness, allowing you to see a variety of animals in their natural habitat. You can do this on your own time, or you can take advantage of the park’s full-service tour desk to help you plan your next adventure.
There’s an emphasis placed on aquatic excursions, as salmon fishing, halibut fishing, river rafting, and a marine mammal rehabilitation center are all popular destinations with denizens of the park. You can also do land-based activities like bear watching (and, presumably, “bear-running-away-fromming”), as the park is a stone’s throw away from Alaskan Grizzly and Coastal Brown Bear habitats.
You’ll have a variety of options when it comes to lodging, each of which can cater to different budgets. It boasts a full-hookup RV site with both 20-, 30-, and 50-amp power, and many of its sites are big-rig friendly. There are 10 tent-camping sites available for those who want something resembling a primitive experience, although there’s too much luxury available here to make you feel like you’ve abandoned the 21st century for real.
The amenities are top-notch. They have two laundry facilities, multiple fish cleaning stations, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, and even a basketball court and playground. There are no fees for pets, although they do require them to be on-leash and fully vaccinated. Both you and your furry friends will also enjoy the various hiking trails within walking distance, many of which are also bike-friendly.
The place is also a fully-functional resort, so if you feel like abandoning your vehicle for a night or two, you can stay in a gorgeous hotel instead. Each suite is designed with a theme from Alaskan history in mind, and they offer multi-room options for large groups.
You could also take advantage of one of their rustic cabins (without running water or indoor plumbing, natch) or their bunkhouse units, which include a fully-stocked kitchen, private bathrooms, and BBQ-equipped decks.
While your stay here should be nothing short of opulent, getting in isn’t easy. Spots fill up quickly, and the resort gives preferential treatment to long-term guests when making reservations. You can likely drop in during the off-season, but at peak times, you’ll have to make a reservation 3-6 months in advance. You also can’t book specific campsites, although you can tell them your preferences and hope for the best.
What I Liked
- Experts at full-service tour desk will help plan your trip
- Variety of lodging options, including camping
- Excellent amenities, most of which are free
- Welcoming pet policy
- Good location for animal watching
What I Didn’t Like
- Too luxurious for primitive campers
- Getting reservations can be difficult, especially for short-term stays
While there isn’t any shortage of things to do here, you’ll likely have the most fun with your rod and reel
As you probably guessed from the name, Alaskan Angler RV Resort and Cabins caters heavily to fishing enthusiasts. This Good Sam-endorsed campground is within walking distance of several rivers and beaches, so all you have to do is grab your gear and go. They also offer several exclusive charter trips, if you’d rather go on an excursion that’s been planned by experts.
You don’t even have to bring your own gear, in fact. They rent just about anything you could possibly need, including clamming equipment and rain gear.
Situated on 8 acres in Ninilchik, a small Native village about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, the area is renowned for both its salmon and halibut fishing. The area is popular for other reasons too, of course, including an annual music festival and their “Clam Scramble,” which is a river-to-river obstacle run.
The commitment to making your fishing trip as fulfilling as possible doesn’t stop when you leave for the water, either. They’ll clean and pack anything you catch, and will even ship it home for you (for an additional fee). If you can’t wait that long, though, there are fish and clam cleaning tables and smokers on site.
Their campsites are all generously-sized, and big rig owners won’t feel cramped here. Their standard sites are plenty big, but they also offer super-sized sites, complete with 50-amp hookups, cable, and free Tengo Wi-Fi. If you’re looking to be frugal, there are ten partial hookup sites as well, although they’re not much cheaper than the regular sites. You can also save money by extending your stay, as they offer the 7th night free.
Beyond RV sites, they also offer a variety of cabins, mobile homes, and a few secluded camping sites. Campers can access most of the park’s amenities, including their laundry facility and showers. The tent sites are at the edge of the park, near the woods, giving you the sense of being in the wild without being too far from other campers.
If you decide to give their showers a try, though, you should bring something to keep you occupied (a laminated newspaper, perhaps?). They only have a few units, and the line to get in is usually pretty long. Expect to spend a good amount of time just waiting to get cleaned up.
The layout is wide open, so if you value your privacy, this might not be the best place for you. Everyone can see everything that’s happening, so you’ll want to draw your curtains or pull the flaps of your tent tightly shut.
What I Liked
- Ideal for fishing excursions
- Campsites are extremely large and big rig-friendly
- Tent sites are situated close to woods
- Fishing and clamming gear on hand to rent
- Several exclusive charter trips available
What I Didn’t Like
- Open layout leads to a lack of privacy
- Limited number of showers causes long wait times
You can enjoy nature like never before at this campsite, because there certainly aren’t any distractions around
If you’re looking to get away from it all, there’s not a whole lot around the Brushkana Creek Campground — at least, not a lot that’s man-made. What you will find is some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, including access to the Brushkana Creek.
That stream is perfect for fly fishing, especially if you’re aiming for grayling. The water is crystal clear, so you can actually see the fish swim by (and taunt you, if you’re not having luck with your flies). The stream offers a wonderful mixture of scenery, including steep banks, cavernous pools, and dense brush. If you somehow get tired of what you’re looking at, all you need to do is take a few steps in any direction to see something else completely breathtaking.
There are 22 campsites in the park, each of which is available on a first-come, first-served basis. They’re spaced out nicely, giving you plenty of privacy, although you won’t be so far away from others that you can’t get help if necessary.
In terms of amenities, the site offers the basics — and only the basics. You have access to water, toilets, and a single picnic shelter, so you’ll need to bring anything else that you think you might need. It’s fantastic for anyone who wants a back-to-nature experience, but if you don’t like roughing it, you’ll find the surroundings, well, rough.
The good news about that is, since there aren’t any amenities to speak of, there aren’t any amenities to pay for. The fees to camp here are very manageable, allowing you to spend your money on something more useful, like a high-end tent or bear spray.
If you want to spend time amid all this beautiful scenery — but you’re not quite ready to give up all the creature comforts you’ve become accustomed to — you can also get vans and small RVs in here. There aren’t any hookups available, though, so it’s not an ideal situation for a long-term stay. The roads can get a little dicey at certain times of year as well, so if you’re not confident in your driving skills, you should only visit when the weather cooperates.
What I Liked
- Stunning scenery
- Close to Brushkana Creek and its excellent fly fishing
- Perfect for primitive campers
- Sites are spaced out for privacy
- Very inexpensive
What I Didn’t Like
- Virtually no amenities
- No hookups for RVs
- Roads can be difficult to navigate at certain times of year
There aren’t many RV campgrounds in Alaska that can offer the kind of room to stretch your legs that this place has on tap
Located just outside the bustling metropolis of Seward (population: 2693), Stoney Creek RV Park is one of the largest campgrounds on this list. It sits on 15 acres, and all that room allows them to be generous with their spacing. The majority of their sites are 30 feet wide by 50 feet long, making it easy to get in and out — and enabling you to park a second vehicle inside if you like.
They have 81 sites in all, of which 68 have sewer access. Every single space offers breathtaking visuals, as the campground is surrounded by majestic mountains, with the titular Stoney Creek flowing around the park. They offer both pull-through and back-in sites, but again, there’s so much room that getting into your slot isn’t an issue.
That spaciousness can also work against you at times. You can have so much room that you feel that you have the place to yourself — but noise carries, and we occasionally felt like we were privy to conversations and gatherings that we’d never received an invitation to. It wasn’t enough to interrupt sleep or anything that severe, but it could be a mild annoyance, especially if you were coming to Alaska to get away from people in the first place.
They offer plenty of amenities, including satellite TV, laundry, Wi-Fi, and showers, and all of their creekside sites come with fire pits. None of this will make you feel like you’re staying at a five-star resort, but you won’t feel like you were transported back to the 19th century, either.
The showers are a particularly attractive feature. They’re not special to look at or anything like that, but they have ample hot water and very rarely have any wait times — and at the end of a day spent traipsing through streams and wilderness, sometimes cooking yourself 30 minutes is the height of luxury.
Their staff is very helpful in terms of assisting you with planning your activities, but they don’t offer the same full-service concierge feel that you can get with other parks. That means that they can tell you where to go and what to do, but you’ll have to actually get there and do everything yourself — they don’t have any charters or guided tours.
If you want to break out your tent and rough it a little, well…they really wish you wouldn’t. They “discourage” tent camping, although they will allow it for an additional fee (provided you already have an RV or other vehicle registered there). It’s not the biggest issue in the world — there are plenty of other places to pitch your tent, after all — but it does feel a little bit like getting nickel-and-dimed.
What I Liked
- Huge campground with spacious RV slots
- Entire site is surrounded by gorgeous mountains
- Showers are usually not crowded and have plenty of hot water
- Most sites have sewer access
- Creekside slots have fire pits
What I Didn’t Like
- Noise can carry quite a bit
- Tent camping is discouraged
- No on-site tour companies or charters
Of all the places to camp in Alaska, this one might offer the most wildlife-watching opportunities
There are lakes all over the world, but few of them can compete with Eklutna Lake in terms of natural beauty. This massive, 7-mile lake has plenty of room for boaters, fishers, and swimmers alike. The water is crystal clear, and you can see the bottom of the lake as clearly as the reflection of the snow-capped mountains that tower above it.
The campground is situated inside Chugach State Park, which, at 495,000 acres, is one of the four largest state parks in the U.S. That means there’s no shortage of things to do and see, and you have a variety of ways to experience the park. Horses, ATVs, and even dog sleds are often used to traverse the sprawling terrain.
You’ll find everything from glaciers and icefields to miles of coastal shoreline here. That means that, if you love wildlife, there are plenty of animals to view through your binoculars or the lens of your camera. You’ll find moose in the valleys, bears in the forests, and you may even spot the occasional wolf pack roaming around (hopefully you won’t encounter all three at once).
The campground itself offers 50 different sites to choose from, with 15 overflow sites available for tent camping. Each site is level and paved, with room for even the largest RVs, and they all come with picnic tables and fire pits.
Don’t expect much in the way of amenities, though, especially if you love your technology. There’s no Wi-Fi, satellite TV, or even a reliable cell signal, so you’ll be truly cut off from the outside world. Also, you won’t find a hot shower or laundry services on site, either. It won’t be primitive camping if you’re staying in an RV, but it won’t be far from it.
There are strict rules about what is and isn’t permitted in the park (ATVs are only acceptable on certain days, for example), and there are plenty of park rangers around to enforce them. That’s good news if you’re looking to behave responsibly and would like it if other campers did the same.
Each site has a limit of 15 nights, after which you’ll need to move along. That ensures a steady amount of turnover, so there should usually be space available. However, it may still be completely full during peak times, and since each site is first-come, first-served, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to find a spot. There is a large campsite that can be reserved for group use, though.
What I Liked
- Situated inside massive Chugach State Park
- Lake is beautiful and suitable for a variety of activities
- Tons of wildlife viewing available
- Good mix of sites for RV and tent camping
- 15-night limit ensures steady turnover
What I Didn’t Like
- Sites are first-come, first-served and may fill up at peak times
- No support for technology like Wi-Fi
- Lacks hot water and laundry facilities
How to Choose the Right Campsite
We feel that the Diamond M Ranch Resort is the best place to camp in an RV or van in Alaska — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be right for you. Before you pick your next camping spot, you should look at a few factors to determine what, exactly, it is you need from a campground.
Using a campsite will most likely be a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel, but that doesn’t mean that the costs can’t add up, especially if you’re planning on staying awhile.
Keep in mind that the more amenities the site offers, the more they’ll likely charge. If you want all the creature comforts of home (like satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and even running water or sewer access), then expect the site to be on the higher end in terms of price.
Your cheapest option will usually be a state park of some kind; sites at these places can usually be had for only a few bucks per night. However, they rarely offer anything more than a place to park and maybe a faucet somewhere on-site, so expect to rough it a bit.
Before you pay to stay at a place, you should make sure they have the hookups that your RV needs. This includes power hookups (not all RVs use the same number of amps), as well as water, sewage, and more.
This isn’t a huge issue if you’re only staying the night, but the longer you stick around, the more important it will become.
Types of Camping Available
The word “camping” means different things to different people. For some, it means abandoning all the luxuries of home, and for others, it means experiencing those luxuries in a new environment.
Some sites offer spots for tent camping, which should satisfy primitive campers, while others cater primarily to glampers. Most are somewhere in between, but you should check beforehand to be sure that your site can accommodate your preferred camping style.
Again, how much you care about this will depend on your views on camping. For some people, the appeal of nature is all the entertainment they need — after all, what can compete with a striking sunset or the beauty of a wild animal in its natural habitat?
However, other campers will note that we’ve had sunsets and wild animals for all of recorded history, and yet we still invented television.
You can find all sorts of entertainment options at various campsites, including playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables, fire pits, and things like Wi-Fi and satellite television hook-ups.
If you’re traveling with a furry friend, you should check to make sure they’ll be welcome wherever you’re staying.
Most places are pet-friendly, but they’ll have certain requirements that must be met if you want to bring your buddy along. Your pet will likely need to be up-to-date on all vaccinations and will need to be on-leash whenever you leave your vehicle.
Alaska’s natural beauty has no rival, and you deserve to experience it at least once in your lifetime. The campsites on this list offer you the best opportunity to do just that, and while we love the variety offered by the Diamond M Ranch Resort, every site on this list will be well worth your time, as they make camping both fun and easy.
In fact, you’ll likely find that the hardest thing to do in Alaska is leave. (No, seriously — the state’s huge and it takes forever to get out of it.)