Chugach Mountains

MountainsThe Chugach Range forms a 300-mile crescent located just outside the town of Valdez, Alaska, east of Anchorage and west of the Wrangell Mountains. The climate of the Chugach crest is strongly influenced by its position so near the coast, and more snow falls here than in any other location in the world, over 600 annual inches. The mountains are thickly forested with Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. The peaks in the western half of the range originally attracted little attention from mountaineers because of their  relatively low elevations, averaging less than 7,000 feet. Because of their nearness to populated areas, however, their popularity has increased in recent times. Since 1991, the World Extreme Skiing Championships have been held in the range, an annual Spring event in which skiers challenge the steep, rugged, undeveloped slopes.   The highest peaks of the Chugach are located in the central to west-central portions of the range, which extends to the Tana River, Tana Glacier, and the Bering Glacier.

3012 and Chugach mountainsChugach State Park, authorized in 1970 by the state legislature, is the second largest of Alaska's state park units and, in fact, one of the largest state parks in the country. (Wood-Tikchik State Park, near Dillingham in Southwest Alaska, at over 1.5 million acres, is the largest state park in Alaska and the US.) The park is situated in the extreme western end of the Chugach Mountains and forms a wilderness buffer to the city. The park's approximately 495,000 acres of rugged terrain, which can change in relief as much as 5,000 feet within a mile, offer stunning views of Anchorage and points.

The Chugach National Forest is still the second largest Forest in the National Forest System. Roughly the same size as the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island  combined, the Chugach is the most northern of National Forests, only 500 miles south of the Arctic Circle. One third of the Chugach is composed of rocks and moving ice. The remainder is a diverse and majestic tapestry of land, water, plants and animals. The mountains, lakes, and rivers of the Kenai Peninsula, the islands and glaciers of Prince William Sound, and the copious wetlands and birds of the Copper River Delta make this National Forest a mecca for adventurers. The Forest is widely known for its robust salmon fishing, along with Dolly Varden, lake and rainbow trout, and others species.

Click here for a current view of the Chugach Mountains

City of Anchorage surrounded by the Chugach Mountains


Page created 12/1/99 and last updated 3/18/02