Located just a few miles from Fairbanks and North Pole is Chena Lakes Recreation Area; a 2,100 acre Lake and River Park, campground and picnic area. It's a fantastic place to spend a summer afternoon or weekend enjoying the great outdoors. Although Chena Lakes is only a few miles from the city of North Pole, once inside the park it feels like you're a million miles away.
The lake park is built around a 260 acre lake surrounded by a long sandy beach. Nestled into a winding loop are numerous waterfront picnic tables with BBQ grills and fire rings, several pavilions with changing rooms (which must be reserved), three volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit, a playground for the kids (and the kid in you), two fishing docks and a lake boat launch. An onsite vendor rents paddle boats, kayaks and canoes for those wishing to explore the lake. A couple of the islands have picnic tables, fire rings and tent camping sites set up as well.
Want to do a little fishing? The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocks the lake with Rainbow Trout, Silver Salmon and Arctic Char and you can try your hand at catching Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, Whitefish, Burbot and King Salmon.
The River Park is stretched along 4 miles of the south bank of the Chena River and has a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, a covered pavilion, changing room/warm up building, a 3 mile self guided nature trail, river boat launch, potable water stations, restrooms, and multiple day use picnic sites with tables and fire rings.
With so much to see and do, you might just want to spend the night or a weekend. Lucky for you Chena Lakes has two campgrounds with a total of 80 back in and pull through sites. Both campground loops are wooded and offer views of the Chena River, Chena Lakes or great views of the Alaskan wilderness. All of the campsites have a parking pad (most have a padded tent site as well), picnic table and fire ring. Restrooms, water pumps and trash receptacles are also close at hand. The one caveat to using the campground is that, like most state campgrounds, size matters. RV's up to 30' - 35'+/- will fit into most sites without a problem but beyond that there are only a few that you'll be able to get into. Lucky for us the few that accommodate larger rigs are among our favorite sites in the park.
There are trails galore running through the park. Several well developed ATV trails circle the park. In addition there are miles and miles of trails that cut through the park and flood control project that are great fun to hike and ride though. Chena Lakes also boasts several miles of wide paved bike paths to enjoy. Just remember, you're not necessarily alone out there... Bears and moose are commonly seen, so please use caution.
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