Eklutna Lake is a seven-mile-long lake nestled in the Chugach Mountains. If you are planning an Eklutna Lake kayak trip then you’ll want to keep reading!
One of the most popular kayaking adventures near Anchorage is Eklutna Lake. Its beautiful, turquoise waters are set beneath lush Alaskan mountains, drawing both locals and tourists to its shores.
Although kayaks are conveniently lined up on the shore and readily available to rent, don’t be fooled. Paddling across Eklutna Lake can be challenging and is not recommended for beginners.
With the increasing number of rescues in the last few years, I’m going to share the Eklutna Lake kayak safety tips that every Alaskan should know.
- Kayaking Eklutna Lake in Alaska
- 5 Eklutna Lake Safety Tips For Beginners
- Kayak Camping at Eklutna Lake
Kayaking Eklutna Lake in Alaska
- WEAR A LIFE JACKET!
- Start early
- Launch your boat from the day use area
- Best for intermediate paddlers
- Bring a dry bag
- Invite a friend
How to Get to Eklutna Lake From Anchorage
From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway. Take the exit toward Eklutna. Drive to Eklutna Lake Road and follow until you reach the last parking lot, which is the Eklutna Lake Recreation day use area. A $5 day use parking fee or state park pass is required.
Traditional Land: Dena’ina, Dënéndeh (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Dena’ina Native Names: Idlu Bena or Eklutna Lake, Idlughet or Eklutna
Eklutna Lake Kayak Rental
AK Paddlesports offers kayak delivery and pickup at Eklutna Lake from May to September.
Lifetime Adventures operates the Eklutna Lake Visitor Center and provides bike and kayak rentals. Even though it’s really easy to rent a kayak here, this is not a good place to try kayaking for the first time. Kayak lessons and guided trips are also available to book here!
Hours of Operation
May 1st – September 8th
Sunday – Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Kayak Rental Prices
- Kayak lesson with 2-hour rental, $65
- 2-hour single kayak rental, $50
- 2-hour double kayak rental, $55
- 4-hour single kayak rental, $60
- 4-hour double kayak rental, $65
- Full day single kayak rental, $75
- Full day double kayak rental, $80
Eklutna Lake Map
After the Eklutna Lake Valley was carved by Eklutna Glacier, the glacier receded and left behind what is now Eklutna Lake. Eklutna Lake is the largest lake in the Chugach Mountains and is fed by glacial and freshwater streams.
What to Bring
- Dry bag
- Rubber boots
- Rain gear
- Warm clothes
- Satellite phone
Planning an overnight kayak trip? Check out my full kayaking gear list.
It’s helpful to have some sort of navigation on any adventure, for safety reasons. I use a few different outdoor apps like Gaia and Earthmate. If you don’t have any apps, download Google Maps offline.
5 Eklutna Lake Safety Tips For Beginners
1. ALWAYS wear a life jacket
You’ve heard the saying, “kids don’t float.” Well, the same goes for adults. Life jackets literally save lives and they will help keep you afloat and add warmth if you happen to capsize in the glacier-fed waters of Eklutna Lake.
Cold-water shock and hypothermia are some of the biggest risks to consider while paddling on Eklutna Lake. Water temperatures range between 39 degrees F in winter to 52 degrees F in summer and hypothermia can begin within an hour or less. Wearing a life jacket will increase your chance of survival and help to keep you from drowning.
2. Check the weather and wind forecast
Due to the size of Eklutna Lake, wind from the south can create whitecaps and sizeable waves. Weather can change super fast so it’s best to check the weather forecast AND wind forecast before choosing when to kayak.
If you’re a beginner kayaker, it’s safest to only kayak when wind speeds are below 12 mph or 10 knots. While any wind speed above 7 mph will make kayaking more difficult, you should still be able to navigate your kayak effectively.
3. Start early
If you’re planning on kayaking as far as possible, it’s best to start early. For the best conditions on the water, I recommend putting your kayak in the water between 8 am and 10 am. The lake at this time is usually much calmer as the air temperature is cooler. The same usually happens in the early evening.
Of course, the conditions are always changing and you may still experience an incredible midday paddle!
4. Follow the shoreline
With unpredictable and fast-changing weather conditions, you don’t want to find yourself swamped by wind and whitecaps nearly a mile from shore. If you capsize in the middle of the lake and need help, it may take an hour for you to be rescued. Keep in mind, there is NO cell service in the area.
When choosing a kayaking route on Eklutna Lake, you’ll want to paddle along the shoreline and avoid being out in the middle of the lake. The shoreline is more protected, which makes it much calmer for paddling.
5. Use a sea kayak
Even though Eklutna Lake is considered a lake, its size and the conditions of the water require a good sea kayak, especially if you are planning a trip to the opposite end of the lake or to Kokanee Cabin.
Sea kayaks are longer and narrower than lake kayaks or recreational kayaks as they’re built to cover longer distances and make headway when you encounter strong ocean currents.
The kayak rentals available at Lifetime Adventures are sea kayaks.
Kayak Camping at Eklutna Lake
One of the best places to plan an overnight kayak camping trip near Anchorage is Eklutna Lake. You can choose to camp at one of three remote campgrounds along the Eklutna Lakeside Trail. Bold Airstrip Campground near mile 8 is the closest campground to where you will beach your kayak. Each campground has a latrine and a picnic table and fire ring at each site.
There are also three remote public-use cabins accessible in the area. Yuditnu Creek Cabin at mile 3 on the Eklutna Lakeside Trail and Kokanee Cabin (on the opposite side of the lake) are easily accessible by kayak. Serenity Falls Hut at mile 12 on the Eklutna Lakeside Trail would require walking a few miles.
Stay safe and happy paddling!
Answering Your Questions
Can you swim at Eklutna Lake?
Yes, it is possible to swim at Eklutna Lake. Keep in mind the water is glacier fed and swimming here requires the proper gear or hot summer temps.
Is the road to Eklutna Lake paved?
Yes, the 10-mile-long Eklutna Lake Road is paved the entire way.
Why is Eklutna Lake so low?
Eklutna Lake supplies the Anchorage Municipality with drinking water. The water level is low in spring before the summer snow melt begins to fill the lake.
Eklutna Lake Kokanee Cabin Review
Overnight Kayak Trip Packing List: Everything I Packed
Biking Eklutna Lakeside Trail in Alaska
Pin For Later
Do you have any questions about planning an Eklutna Lake kayak trip in Alaska? Let me know in the comments.