If you're looking for an adventure in the outdoors but don't want to go the camping route, the Alaska State Parks have just the answer - public use cabins that can be found at many popular Mat-Su locations.
There are 17 public use cabins located in the Mat-Su in three different park regions - Denali State Park, Nancy Lakes State Recreation Area and Matanuska Glacier. The cabins vary in price from $45-$75 a night, and can sleep between 4-6 people, making them great options for families or groups looking for fun outings on a budget. A few have electricity, but most are rustic cabins found along lakes or trails.
The largest collection of public use cabins is the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area. On Nancy Lake and Red Shirt Lake, there are four cabins each. Three cabins are located on the shores of Lynx Lake, and one cabin each on Bald Lake and James Lake. The cabins vary in accessibility - while some can be reached by hiking from the trailhead on Nancy Lake Parkway, others are much more remote. The Nancy Lake cabins are very popular in both summer and winter, as there is always something to do. In winter, popular activities include ice fishing, snowmobiling and skiing, while in the summer, canoeing, fishing and bird watching are very popular. Before you head out, check with the Alaska State Parks offices for updated conditions.
On Byers Lake, there are three public use cabins that are popular because of their views of Denali and the remoteness. They are easily accessible and provide plenty of opportunities for snowmobiling and fishing in the winter as well.
The last public use cabin is found near Matanuska Glacier, one mile south of Long Rifle Lodge. It has sweeping views of the glacier and is very popular in the summer months, although it is open throughout the year.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Alaska State Parks Public Use Cabin program is very popular, and preferred dates fill up fast. Alaska residents can book cabins seven months in advance, while non-residents can book them six months in advance. For a complete list of Mat-Su area public use cabins and an availability calendar, please click here.