Best Free Camping in Alaska

Free Camping in Alaska

By Nathan Swartz

From classic novels like White Fang to more modern titles such as Into the Wild, we're taught that the Last Frontier is a wild and scenic place. Exactly the setting where the perfect free camping adventure should be set, right?

Over two hundred million acres of the state, some 66%, is public land, so opportunities to find free camping are abundant. At the same time, much of the state is extremely remote, with no way to be accessed by vehicle. Add to that necessary precautions involved given short summers and harsh conditions the rest of the year, not to mention that it's just really far away from the Continental US and even most of Canada, and you'll soon realize how remote this place really is.

See a map of all free camping in Alaska.

Free National Forest Camping in Alaska

Remember all that public land mentioned earlier? Over half of it–129 million acres–comes in the form of national forest. The two national forests in Alaska are also the largest in the nation, and they're full of dispersed camping if you can navigate the forest roads. One of the easier to access is Marker 13 along Hope Highway in the Chugach National Forest.

Many of the dirt roads in the national forests are more suited to smaller RVs, truck campers, and vans as opposed to large rigs, so always scout ahead or check-in at a ranger station to find out before you go. Cell service is rarely available in the forests.

Free Camping in Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

Adjacent to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, this wildlife refuge shares the park's northern boundary and is comprised of a dramatic landscape of glacial rivers and alpine lakes, tundra and forest, and home to a multitude of nature's denizens. From wolves to grizzlies, martens to beavers, and a whole host of migratory birds, it's the complete wilderness experience.

Free RV camping can be found at Lakeview Campground, where despite the lack of costs, you'll be greeted with a specific campsite, including access to vault toilets and trash cans. Deadman Lake Campground is another similar option, and in addition to picnic tables and fire pits at your site, there are free canoes campers can borrow to explore the area.

Free Camping at Little Nelchina State Recreation Area

This state park, in the southeastern corner of the state, provides its camping facilities for free. Fire rings and picnic tables are provided, along with primitive restrooms. It's known for family RV camping and rafters readying their descent down the Little Nelchina River. It is also home to hiking trails and other outdoor activities such as fishing and birdwatching.

Free Camping Courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game

This state-run agency hosts dozens of free camping locations, including those mentioned previously in Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. One of these spots, Copper River Campground, is often used as a basecamp for those wanting to make the long, dirt road drives to McCarthy, Alaska.

More Free Camping in Alaska

These are just a few of the more natural settings one will find in Alaska. Additional camping areas where you won't pay a dime to stay the night include a Walmart in Fairbanks, the Cabela's in Anchorage, Fred Meyer parking lots, highway rest stops, gas stations, and the curiosity that is Downtown Chicken. While camping in business parking lots is often completely legitimate, it can be a good idea to check in with the business itself to get an idea of the rules.

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mobile device showing map of camping locations
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Recent Alaska Free Campsite Reviews

Anchorage, AK


Mar 02, 2024

""No camping policy""

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Staff was friendly, but management was rude and informed us very rudely that we had to leave due to "no camping policy"

3 reviews
Oct 05, 2023

"Close To Canadian Border"

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We arrived on 9/27/23 in the late afternoon. There were quite a few spots open for us to choose. We selected site 14 which was a back-in site. We had to use blocks to get leveled. We had a table and fire pit. There is an awesome boardwalk with interpretive signs. Don’t miss this! It’s the best feature of the campground. I would stay here again.

1 review
Sep 22, 2023

"Quiet, clean pullout, nice views, vault toilet"

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Between mile marker 21 and 22. Nice view, mountains on both sides over rock lake. Clean, pleasant vault toilet. Level enough to find a spot for one 20-30 foot rig, but would be too small for 2 unless traveling together with leveling gear. 1-2 bars verizon with weboost.

2 reviews
Sep 14, 2023

"Nice Campground On A Lovely Lake"

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It’s a great stopover along the AlCan. The pit-privies were clean and the grounds well kept. We were lucky to find an open site that we could fit in and our camper is only 24’. There was a nice dock and boat launch that we would have loved to use if we’d been doing more than a one-night stay between travel days. Great for an overnighter, but...
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Moose Pass, AK

Upper Lake Trail Pull-Out

Aug 23, 2023

"Great Location"

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Notice from highway and lack of privacy are the only downsides. Great location and if you score a good spot it’s awesome!

1 review