The Hatcher Pass Management Area is a glaciated mountainous region located an hour and a half north of Anchorage, Alaska. The Hatcher Pass Management Area isn’t a designated state park because the area combines private, borough, and state land. The area even has two state parks located within its boundaries, the Independence Mine State Historical Park and the Summit Lake State Recreational Site. The varied ownership of the space, collectively, creates a massive natural area that offers recreationists plenty of opportunities for adventure with a variety of places to stay nearby the activity sites.
Hatcher Pass is a favorite place for Alaskans and guests visiting the state because it is near some of the state’s more populated cities. Within a short drive, one will find spectacular mountains that create a backdrop for activities such as berry picking, hiking, gold panning, biking, and horseback riding. In the winter the events change to Nordic activities such as skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Alaska has no shortage of stunning landscapes. The snow-covered mountain tops, the active volcanoes, and the glacial peaks and valleys frame the grass and wildflower covered terrain. The green fields stretch for miles only separated by the rivers and the streams that flow into the inlets and lakes that provide some of the best fishing in the United States. Visitors traveling by RV have the opportunity to see as much of Alaska’s grandeur as possible; add Hatcher Pass Management Area as a stop on your travel itinerary.
RV Rentals in Hatcher Pass Management Area
Transportation in Hatcher Pass Management Area
The Hatcher Pass Public Use Area is located approximately 15 miles north of the cities of Wasilla and Palmer, Alaska. The area is separated into different sections, with each section providing various types of recreation. Parking fees are assessed at each area and are separate charges from camping fees.
The campgrounds are located close to one another. The Gold Mint Campground is at mile 13.7 on Hatcher Pass Road, and the Government Peak Campground is located on mile 14 on Hatcher Pass Road.
The Hatcher Pass area is large with a limited number of large RV friendly roads. During the winter, four-wheel drive is recommended on most of the roads that remain open, and these roads are not recommended for RVs. The only paved road is the Palmer-Fishhook Road from Palmer to the Independence Mine State Historical Park. The Palmer-Fishhook Road is open year-round except the last mile to Independence Mine which closes during the winter which is somewhere between October 1 and May 31.
RVs are not recommended on Hatcher Pass Road from mile 17.5 to mile 32.5. The road is a rough gravel surface that is narrow and steep with many tight, hairpin turns.
Campgrounds and parking in Hatcher Pass Management Area
Campsites in Hatcher Pass Management Area
Government Peak Campground
The Government Peak Campground area is a day use picnic area with eight campsites for primitive overnight camping during the summer seasons. Each space is a first-come, first serve site and the camping area has restrooms and designated fire rings. Leashed pets are permitted. This camping area allows for small RVs under 35 feet. Campers must pay the day use fee and the camping fee at the self-pay stations when entering the campground. Campground quiet hours are from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am. Generators should be silenced during these hours. During the winter, the Government Peak Campground is closed, but the area remains open for its Nordic activities. Government Peak offers skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and winter biking.
Gold Mint Trailhead Campground
The Gold Mint Trailhead Campground is the pathway to year-round activities within the Hatcher Pass Management Area. The Gold Mint area is known for its hiking trails, snowmobile trails, and a skiing area, but it also is one of the two RV campgrounds in Hatcher Pass. RV camping and parking are allowed during the summer hours. There are ten primitive first-come, first-serve campsites and the camping area has drinking water available during the summer, a picnic area, and designated fire rings. There is no restriction on RV length in this camping area, and leashed pets are permitted. Campers must pay the day use fee and the camping fee at the self-pay stations when entering the campground. Campground quiet hours are from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am. Generators should be silenced during these hours.
Seasonal activities in Hatcher Pass Management Area
Recreational Gold Mining
Bring the whole family on a quest to find gold. Recreational gold mining is a favorite activity in the Hatcher Pass area, and panning can be as simple as pulling off the road next to the Little Susitna River and dipping your pan and shovel in the water. Head to the Independence Mine State Historical Park Visitor Center and learn about mining and pick up a packet on the mining rules and regulations. If you want to learn how to pan, sign up for gold-panning lessons at the park during the summer months.
Bring your fishing tackle and visit one of the area outfitters before heading to the Hatcher Pass area, so you will have what you need to spend a day fishing in the Hatcher Pass rivers and creeks. Anglers are permitted to fish for dolly varden and rainbow trout in the Little Susitna River, Willow Creek, and Peters Creek. Salmon fishing is not allowed in the area because it is closed for harvesting. Anglers may fish alone or take a guided fishing tour. With any fishing, ensure you have the proper tags and licenses, and you are aware of the fishing regulations for the season.
The Hatcher Pass Area is well known for its hiking and biking trails. There are plenty of paths to choose from with each trail offering varying levels of difficulty. RVers who stay at the Gold Mint Trailhead Campground have easy access to 16 miles of relatively easy hiking. The trailhead starts at the camping area. The Reed Lakes Trail, the Gold Cord Lake Trail, and the April Bowl trail are also area trails that allow foot traffic, bike traffic, or both. For detailed hiking information, pick up a trail map from local area shops or the Independence Mine State Historical Park Visitor Center.
Cross Country Skiing
Hatcher Pass is known for its winter activities because the area hosts some of the best skiing in the state. The skiing season begins early, usually in October, and the excellent snow conditions provide the base for some of the most popular groomed and well-marked cross country skiing trails in the region. Gold Mint Trail, Reed Lakes Trail, Archangel Road, and the road to Independence Mine State Historical Park are some of the more favorite skiing trails. For more information on cross country skiing in Hatcher Pass, pick up an area brochure and map or stop by a local outdoor store.
The words dog sledding and Alaska are synonymous with one another. Even though the Hatcher Pass area isn’t a stop on the most popular dog sled race, the Iditarod, the Hatcher Pass vicinity offers excellent dog sledding conditions all winter long. The Archangel Road Trail is a designated dog mushing area. If you are interested in taking a dog sled ride, there are many area dog sledding schools and dog sledding tours that provide winter and summer tours for people who want to see the area from a dog-pulled sled.
The Archangel Road Snowmachine Trail and the Hatcher Pass Trail allow snowmobiling and provide both groomed and ungroomed trails for snowmobile activity. Each trail has distinct characteristics that offer differing levels of difficulty. Snowmobiling is a favorite wintertime activity in Alaska, and all people who ride should become familiar with winter safety rules, snowmobile regulations, and trail details. Many shops in the vicinity rent snow machines or offer guided snowmachine tours.