Chugach Overview - Welcome to the Forest
The Chugach, America’s most northerly National Forest
This stunning landscape stretches across south-central Alaska, from the salty waters and snowy peaks of Prince William Sound to the fabulous salmon and trout streams of the Kenai Peninsula, covering an area the size of New Hampshire. It is one of the few places left in the world where glaciers still grind valleys into the hard rock of the earth.
A tapestry of land, water, plants, and animals.
Its geographic diversity is unique among national forests. The three distinct landscapes of the Copper River Delta, the Eastern Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound are destinations for adventurers and nature enthusiasts the world over and are once-in-a-lifetime destinations for a million visitors each year. You’ll find a special place here, camping with family and friends, cruising the Sound, or watching a million shorebirds. You’ll see Alaskans living and working in the national forest. They are guiding visitors on kayak adventures, working gold claims, commercial fishing for Copper River reds, following a traditional way of life.
Whether it’s your first trip or your tenth, we hope you enjoy the wild lands, wildlife, wild fish, and wild ice of the Chugach National Forest.
The Our Forests Are Alaska campaign showcases the people, communities and cultures of Southcentral Alaska and their connections to the Chugach National Forest.
From salmon fishing and sustainable tourism to commercial business operations, to the celebration of the cultural ties that bind us in partnership and at the same time make us unique, the Chugach National Forest supports the Alaskan way of life.
Culture and Community
Learn more about members of communities throughout the region who rely on public lands to sustain their businesses, heat their homes, and provide for their families.
Did you know... ?
- The Chugach National Forest is the farthest north and west of all the national forests, and 30% covered in ice
- The Forest has 96 separate watersheds
- There are 41 public use cabins and more than 500 miles of trail
- The Chugach is the size of the state of New Hampshire, yet only has 90 miles of Forest Service roads
- Prince William Sound is the farthest north that cutthroat trout and yellow cedar are found
- All five North American species of Pacific salmon are found on the Chugach: king, red, silver, chum, and pink
- The Copper River carries 1/3 the sediment carried by the Mississippi River, but its drainage basin is only 1/40th as large
- Precipitation ranges from 20" on the Kenai Peninsula to over 300" on Montague Island in Prince William Sound
- In a distance of just 10 miles, the forest rises from sea level to 13,100 feet at Mount Marcus Baker
- There are 1800 miles of anadromous streams and 48,100 acreas of documented anadromous fish lakes
- Approximately 2% of the total forest watershed has roads
- Approximately 500,000 people visit the Chugach for recreation each year
- The Chugach has two public information centers: Begich Boggs Visitor Center in Portage Valley and Crooked Creek Information Center in Valdez
By geographic area…
Kenai Peninsula (21% of the Forest)
- Accessible from the All American Seward Highway and by the Alaska Railroad passenger and Whistle Stop Service
- Encompasses the Southern Trek of the Iditarod National Historic Trail
- Headwaters of the Kenai River and encompasses Kenai Lake
- The Russian River hosts 150,000 anglers each year
- 5000 moose on the Kenai Peninsula (1000 of which are on the Forest)
Prince William Sound (48% of the Forest):
- 3500 miles of shoreline
- 20 tidewater glaciers
- Encompasses the 2.2 million acre Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area
- 3-5 thousand bald eagles live in Prince William Sound - the equivalent of the entire bald eagle population in the Lower 48
- Over 200 active seabird colonies
Copper River Delta (31% of the Forest):
- Largest contiguous wetlands complex on North America's Pacific coast
- Stretches across 700,000 acres, draining a watershed of 26,500 square miles, an area the size of West Virginia
- The largest unit in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and considered on of the most essential shorebird habitats in the world