Most people who travel Alaska's back-country camp out in tents, however some prefer the security of a cabin. Cabins offer a dry, comfortable place to rest, prepare and serve meals, and just relax with friends or family. Alaska has literally hundreds of public-use cabins that are available by advance reservation at a modest nightly fee.
The comfort and security of a sturdy cabin adds tremendously to one's enjoyment of the wilderness. Cabins are built in various styles, from simple A-frame designs to traditonal log structures and variations in between. Most include built-in plywood bunks (with no mattresses or bedding), cupboards (with no food, cooking equipment or utensils), a table and chairs, and a wood-fired or oil-fired stove for heat. Most cabins are situated near recreational opportunities like fishing, hunting, or hiking.
In short, most of Alaska's recreational cabins are intended to provide nothing more than shelter, a heat source, and sometimes a fresh water source. Anything beyond that is up to you. Therefore it's important that you go in self-contained. Have a look at our Gear Pages for recommendations on sleeping bags, pads, cots and the like.
Some public-use cabins were built with public funds, while others were built by private individuals and through various processes ended up in public hands. In the former case, most follow certain design patterns. In the latter case, designs will vary.
Pan-Abode cabins usually include a loft area and a main floor equipped with countertop space for cooking, a table, chairs or benches and a wood or oil stove. In most cases these stoves are designed to take #1 fuel oil or kerosene only. Pay particular care to the instructions concerning the stove's fuel requirements and never substitute other fuels. Other cabins use woodstoves for a heat source. Either way, fuel oil or firewood is not provided. Users are expected to provide what they need. Wood may be scarce near the cabin, so be prepared to work for it.
A variation on the cabin theme are the various types of public-use shelters situated in various parts of Alaska. Although there are some variations, most have a wooden floor, three walls and a roof. You will need a tarp to cover the open end. In some cases shelters do not include amenities such as cabinets, tables or chairs.
Some areas, particularly where the ground is marshy, tent platforms are used. They are generally designed to accommodate one tent, and provide additional space for a cooking area. In some cases, a bear-proof food locker of some kind is provided.
The Tongass National Forest is found in Region 1 and it contains a number of cabins that are available for public use. Reservations must be made well in advance, and there may be a fee involved (Alaska has hundreds of such cabins and the rules for reservations, user fees, etc, depend on the location of the cabins and which state or federal agency owns it.
The Chugach National Forest is 5.4 million acres in size, and contains all of the shoreline of Prince William Sound from Cape St. Elias to Cape Resurrection. It also extends inland and encompasses the Kenai Lake area to the shores of Cook Inlet's Turnagain Arm, and across the Inlet to the Girdwood area. If you are traveling within the Chugach National Forest, be advised that there are several private inholdings within the National Forest. It is your responsibility to know where private property is, and to avoid trespassing. Contact the Department of National Resources Public Lands Information Office in Anchorage for maps and details.
Number of available cabins: 40
Several cabins are available in the Cordova area, few of which are available from the road system.
Three cabins are located on Hinchinbrook Island, all of which are popular with hunters.
Shoup Bay Marine Park is located 8.5 miles north of Valdez, and is accessible by boat, water taxi out of Valdez, floatplane, or by hiking an 11-mile trail from Valdez. Several cabins are located there. The Shoup Bay State Marine Park cabins are administered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Be sure to read their Fact Sheet on these cabins.
Region 2 (east) contains dozens of cabins that are available for use by the general public. These cabins are controlled by either the state or federal government, and most require advance reservations and user fees are usually charged by the night. Amenities are spartan; expect to find an outhouse, bunks with no bedding or mattresses, no food, no dishes or cookstove, and no power or running water. Some include the use of a boat, but you will probably have to bring an outboard if one is needed. Most have wood-fired or oil-fired stoves for heat.
These facilities are located about eight miles east of Whittier, on the south side of Passage Canal. These cabins are accessible by private boat, water taxi out of Whittier, floatplane, or kayak. There is no sheltering anchorage, and these cabins are popular with kayakers. The Decision Point State Marine Park cabins are administered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Be sure to read their Fact Sheet on these cabins.
Region 2 (west) contains many cabins that are available for use by the general public. Most require advance reservations and user fees are usually charged by the night. Amenities are spartan; expect to find an outhouse, bunks with no bedding or mattresses, no food, no dishes or cookstove, and no power or running water. Most have wood-fired or oil-fired stoves for heat.
Shuyak Island is about 50 air miles north of the town of Kodiak. The state park contains four cabins, as follows:
CLICK HERE to read more about these cabins, or to make reservations.
Game Management Units: GMU 12, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26B, 26C
Game Management Units: GMU 9, 10, 11, 13, 14A, 14B, 16, 17
Game Management Units: GMU 18, 22, 23, 26A