Alaska’s vast wilderness boasts awe-inspiring landscapes of mountains, forests, rivers, and abundant lakes. Whether you want to go on a kayaking tour or spend an afternoon fishing, there’s something exciting for everyone in Alaska. For your upcoming lake getaway, book a stay at an incredible Alaska vacation rental today. Check out the top lakes in the state that offer beauty, serenity, and adventure.
1. Kenai Lake
Kenai Lake lies in the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska. There are a few small communities around the lake including Cooper Landing, Crown Point, Primrose, and Moose Pass. The first two are the biggest towns in the area at a few hundred people, but these communities are more suited to stocking up your vacation rental with the basic necessities such as food and equipment rather than a place to hangout. However, with the beautiful views around Kenai Lake, plenty of swimming and boating, and a plethora of hiking trails, a lack of a nightlife is a small price to pay. Be sure to hike up to Juneau Creek Falls with the kids, a fairly easy jaunt with great photo opportunities. For a more serious hike, hop onto the the Lost Lake hiking trail that you can pick up at Kenai Lake. Get a vacation rental along the northeastern side of the lake because of its close access to the Old Cooper Landing Boat Launch.
2. Skilak Lake
West of Kenai Lake is Skilak Lake. If you’re on top of things, you can get one of the few lakeside cabins available, but if not, opt for a vacation house in Sterling, a large town a few miles to the northwest. There are some great eateries in town such as Mooseback Annies, Suzie’s Cafe, Magpye’s Pizzeria. Plus, you can even tour High Mark Distillery. Skilak Lake and the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area are filled with fun activities from fishing (plenty of guide services in Sterling are ready to take you to the best spots), hiking, and boating. There are boat launches at both Lower Skilak and Upper Skilak. In fact, by the Upper Skilak boat launch is the Vista Trail, a great hike for the family, or head to the Skilak Lookout Trail for epic views.
3. Chena Lake
Chena Lake, in east-central Alaska, has what you wouldn’t expect this far north: a sandy swimming beach. While it’s not the white-sand glory of oceanside locations, it’s more than suitable for relaxing in the summer sun. The 260-acre lake allows allows fishing (except from the two swimming beaches), swimming, and boating. In fact, winter ice fishing is a popular activity here. The lake has a boat rental facility and a boat launch as well. The larger 2,100-acre Chena Lake Recreation Area offers hiking, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, picnic areas, and nature trails in the summer and cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling in the winter. The large town of North Pole abuts Chena Lake, a place where you can find plenty of restaurants, vacation rentals, and year-round Christmas decorations and cheer.
4. Tangle Lakes
Tangle Lakes, in southeastern Alaska, is a series of connected lakes. One of the most popular activities is to kayak (or tube) from lake to lake via the connected streams. Bring your fishing pole, and catch dinner while you’re at it. While there are no houses, communities, or towns on the lake, there are vacation rentals in the wilderness surrounding it, giving you the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature and your children while enjoying solitude. You can also hike the Tangle Lake District. Keep an eye out for caribou, bears, and moose, which are abundant in the Alaskan interior.
5. Trail Lake
North of Kenai Lake is Trail Lake. Moose Pass, a very small community, is located on the lake along with tons of vacation rentals and lakeside homes. While the town might not have a lively nightlife, it is the jumping off point for Scenic Mountain Air air tours if you want to admire the Kenai Peninsula from above. You can also charter a day trip with Chugach Backcountry Fishing or Kenai Riverdog, which specializes in sightseeing trips via boat. There’s also a ton of hike; make taking the Vagt Lake Trail a hiking must, which offers great views on the way to an isolated lake. If you want a unique experience, visit the Trail Lakes Hatchery, where sockeye, coho, and chinook are raised and released.
6. Wonder Lake
Wonder Lake lies within the Denali National Park and Preserve in the Alaskan interior north of Anchorage. Vacation rentals, while not around the lake, are nearby, but are isolated, perfect for a relaxing vacation with family and nature. Besides kayaking, swimming, and fishing, this location gives you front-row views of the giant Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain on the continent. Breathe in the fresh air with a hike on the Wonder Lake Trail or head to the Sanctuary River Trails where you might see the wild Dall sheep and bears.
7. Eklutna Lake
Eklutna Lake lies in the Chugach State Park and just an hour northeast of Anchorage. There are vacation rentals located in the state park, a few miles north of the lake, by Knik River, and in Anchorage. In fact, staying in anchorage puts you in close proximity to all sorts of fun from the Alaska Heritage Museum and glacier discovery tours to zoos with the kids and nightlife for you (think the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub, Odd Man Rush Brewing, and Mad Myrna’s). When at Eklutna Lake, rent some ATVs and really explore the Chugach State Park, or use your legs and go hiking. The Twin Peaks Trails gives you great views of the lake and allows you to see some of the wildlife such as huge herds of Dall sheep. You can also go canoeing and kayaking through the crystalline waters, swimming, and lounging on the swimming beach.
8. Chilkoot Lake
Chilkoot Lake is located in southern Alaskan on the state’s panhandle not far from Juneau within the Haines State Forest and Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site. If you can nab a vacation house on the land between the lake and the Lutak Inlet, do so for the beautiful views and easy access to the water. This lake offers some of the best salmon fishing in the state with four salmon runs, which translates into awesome bear viewing (as long as you use proper caution). With boat launches, it’s a great place to kayak and canoe or cast a line. The Haines Ferry Terminal is located close by if you want to visit Juneau down the inlet.
9. Mendenhall Lake
Mendenhall Lake lies along Juneau within the Glacier Bay National Park. Not only can you get a vacation house right by the lake, those vacation rentals are minutes away from a myriad of hiking trails. Opt for a house on Mendenhall River, and kayak up to the lake where you can view the rushing Nugget Falls. Visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, and hike up to the famous glacier itself. While in the capital city of Alaska, take a tour through the stunning Tracy Arm Fjord and do some whale watching.
10. Auke Lake
Auke Lake is located in Juneau right by Auke Bay and south of Mendenhall Lake. A vacation rental on the narrow piece of land separating the lake and bay is a perfect place to settle down for a visit. You can kayak and swim (in either body of water), walk down to the quaint log cabin-esque Chaple on the Lake, and go hiking in the nearby woods. Auke Lake fishing is plentiful with 160 acres of steelhead trout, salmon, and dolly varden fishing.
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