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Chugach State Park, located in southcentral Alaska immediately east of the Anchorage Bowl1, is the third-largest state park in the U.S. at 495,000 acres, or about 773 square miles. The park, established in the early 1970s, contains the western end of the Chugach Mountains (hence the name); these are the mountains that are the standard backdrop to every picture of Anchorage ever taken.2

The park offers several activities, described below. By far the most popular single attraction is probably Flattop Mountain, noded elsewhere. However, there are numerous other draws:

Visitors would do well to remember that you'll generally be a few thousand feet up. Prepare for it to be colder--considerably so, in fact--than down below. At the highest elevations, snow usually begins to fall in mid-September and totally vanishes around May.

The main access points to most park facilities are at Eklutna Lake (Mile 26 of the Glenn Highway, then ten miles down Eklutna Lake Road), Eagle River Nature Center (Mile 12 of the Glenn, then 12 miles down Eagle River Road), various points along the Anchorage Hillside, McHugh Creek (15 miles from downtown Anchorage on the Seward Highway), Bird Creek (26 miles), and Girdwood (37 miles, then two miles up the Alyeska Highway). All have parking lots, for the use of which, as mentioned above, you can expect to pay. (They need money to maintain the park from somewhere...)

The same warnings I put forth in my Flattop writeup apply here. This is a wild area. Be prepared for it. Bring mosquito repellent3, and be careful of moose and bears. (Bears will avoid you if you take care to make plenty of noise. Moose you just have to not piss off.)

Principal source: Chugach State Park official site, http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/chugach/

1. The park is actually entirely within the Anchorage municipal limits.
2. Slight exaggeration. Some pictures are taken from the mountains.
3. Remember that in Alaska, "mosquito repellent" can mean anything from spray up to and including anti-tank weapons. Do not attempt to bring your anti-tank weapons from home if you don't already live in Alaska. The customs and/or airport inspectors HATE it. Any Anchorage supermarket will carry reasonably-priced models.

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