Pull off to the side of the road, stare deep into blue glacial ice or work up an appetite and climb to the top of a mountain to enjoy an epic view. So much simple pleasure can be found in enjoying an afternoon delight in the middle of nowhere while feasting on good food and delicious eye candy. Here is a list of the 20 best places to go in Alaska for an unforgettable picnic.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Aialik Bay - Kenai Peninsula
Aialik is a very actively calving tidewater glacier where massive chunks of ice will plummet into the sea below. Sea otters and other wildlife can oftentimes be found floating and swimming around nearby.
2. Brooks Range – Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve
The Brooks Range is one of Alaska's wildest places. The rugged mountains are home to many species of wildlife that will keep you captivated for days on end.
3. Eagle Beach - Tongass National Forest
Hike or camp out at the Eagle Beach State Recreation Area located just 27 miles north of Juneau proper. Have a picnic on the white sandy beach. This is also a great location for beach combing, birding and sea life watching.
4. Twin Peaks Trail – Eklutna Lake Overlook
To get to the overlook, it is recommended that you be an experienced hiker. It is a difficult hike 5.5 miles up but boy-oh-boy is it worth it. The view overlooking Eklutna Lake is something that dreams are made of.
5. Flat Top - Anchorage Overlook
If you want vistas without the hike, walk the short path from the parking lot to the overlook. Those who want to work up more of an appetite can hit the trails onward and upward to enjoy Williwaw Lakes and Wolverine Peak.
6. Lamplugh Glacier - Glacier Bay National Park
Lamplugh Glacier is an 8-mile-long glacier located in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. It leads north to its 1961 terminus in Johns Hopkins Inlet, 1.4 miles west of Ptarmigan Creek and 76 miles northwest of Hoonah.
7. Kenai Lake - Cooper Landing
One of the largest glacial lakes in the Kenai River System, Kenai Lake is a beautiful lake in a road-accessible area of the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai Mountains in the distance make for an epic dose of eye-candy.
8. Kluane Lake – Yukon
Kluane Lake is located in the southwest area of the Yukon. It is the largest lake contained entirely within Yukon at approximately 158 square miles.
9. Lake Gertrude – Kodiak
During the past 50 years, Lake Gertrude has been subject to numerous sport fisheries enhancement efforts undertaken both by the Kodiak Conservation Club and ADF&G.
10. Mendenhall Glacier – Juneau
Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau in Southeast Alaska.
11. Mt. Healy Overlook – Denali Village
The Healy Overlook Trail takes you quickly above tree line and begins from the Denali Visitor Center, via the Taiga Trail. For anyone headed to Denali to work for the summer, this is a bucket-list must.
12. Nenana River – Healy
The Nenana River is a tributary of the Tanana River, approximately 140 miles long, in central Alaska. It drains into an area on the north slope of the Alaska Range and on the south edge of the Tanana Valley which is southwest of Fairbanks.
13. Rabbit Lake – Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park is an enormous park with towering waterfalls, placid lakes & mountains. Getting to Rabbit Lake is about a 4.5-mile moderate hike that is perfect for anyone looking to work up a good appetite for an afternoon picnic.
14. Red Shirt Lake – Willow
Located in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area in Willow. In addition to a great picnic area you can enjoy tranquil settings for canoeing, fishing, hiking and camping.
15. Inside Passage - Skagway
Skagway is a compact city in southeast Alaska, set along the Inside Passage route. This town is home to many gold-rush-era buildings which are now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada.
16. Susitna River – Talkeetna
Pick a spot along this beautiful river and sit back, relax, take in the views and enjoy a picnic. The Susitna River is a 313-mile long river in the Southcentral Alaska. It is the 15th largest river in the US.
17. Symphony Lake – Eagle River
Starting from the South Fork trail-head in Eagle River, getting to Symphony Lake will be about a six mile trek. The trail is moderate and is totally doable for those wanting to get out and explore the great Alaskan outdoors. Pack a good sized picnic basket because you are sure to work up an appetite.
18. Tutka Bay – Kachemak Bay Wilderness Area
Tutka Bay sits at the western end of Kachemak Bay State Park, between Jackalof Bay and Sadie Cove. There is pink salmon fishing when in season and certain areas offer a chance to check out the tide pools at low tide.
19. Upper Trail Lake – Moose Pass
Moose Pass is a scenic mountain village nestled on the southwest shore of upper Trail Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. Surrounded by the Chugach National Forest, this is an ideal place for hikers and backpackers to embark on outdoor adventures.
20. Nabesna Road – Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve
As only one of two access points into the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, this 42-mile stretch of gravel road from the Slana River to Nabesna is something that simply must be seen in everyone's lifetime. The speed limit is rather slow however (only 35 mph), so come prepared to be patient and ready to enjoy the journey.
No matter where your path takes you, there is an unforgettable picnic spot waiting to be savored. By a lake, on a riverbank or at the top of a mountain – Alaska has you covered when it comes to your outdoor ‘wining and dining’ needs. Where is your favorite spot to have a picnic in Alaska?