Lake Louise State Recreation Area, located in Glennallen, Alaska, rests in the scenic Mat-Su Valley Region. The Mat-Su Valley is technically two valleys, both carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. The name Mat-Su is a combination of the Matanuska Valley and the Susitna Valley, and it covers some of Alaska’s most awe-inspiring landscape. The Mat-Su Valley begins north of Anchorage along the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway and stretches both north and east. Lake Louise sits at the northern tip of the Matanuska Valley along the Glenn Highway, and Lake Louise SRA sits close to the lake’s shoreline.
Lake Louise, together with Susitna Lake, is part of Alaska’s largest lake system that has road access. The two lakes span 37 square miles making the area a popular destination because of the location, the scenery, and the abundant recreation. Lake Louise was a destination area long before access roads were leading in and out of the vicinity. During World War II, the lake served as a rest area for members of the U.S. Army who were part of the Glenn Highway construction team. After a time, and after changing ownership, the state finally designated the area the Lake Louise State Recreation Area which continues to be a favorite destination for both Alaskans and visitors.
Lake Louise SRA is 170 miles northeast of Anchorage, and 128 miles northeast of Palmer, Alaska. The park is along the Glenn Highway at mile marker 158. Take the exit to Lake Louise Road, and then drive .4 miles to the fork in the road and turn left toward the Lake Louise Campground. A portion of the road into the camping area is well-packed gravel.
A private concessionaire runs the campground and day use area at Lake Louise SRA, so the prices may vary from the other parks within the state park system. The operating season generally begins when the snow melts, or when the water is safe to turn on. Check the information boards when entering the facilities for specific information on each area.
The campground at Lake Louise SRA does not have a size restriction on RVs and trailers, so the state’s rule of 65 feet or less isn’t applicable.
The Lake Louise SRA Campground is a first-come, first serve primitive style campground that accommodates all sizes of RVs and trailers. A private concessionaire runs the campground, and there are generally plenty of camping sites available. The campground has dumpsters, drinking water, vault toilets, a picnic area, and a small boat launch for hand carried boats. All of the sites have fire rings. The campground fee, daily parking fee, and boat launch fees are separate costs, and campers can pay the fees upon entry. This campground doesn't have a dump station. Please silence your generators during the park’s posted quiet hours to maintain a quiet and serene environment for all guests. Quiet hours are from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am.
No matter the season, the fish are plentiful at Lake Louise. The lake has four species of fish: Arctic grayling, burbot, whitefish, and lake trout. The lake trout are generally large, and it’s not uncommon to catch a 20-pound trout. Anglers may fish from small boats or from the shoreline. All Alaskan fishing areas have regulations and restrictions during certain seasons. For information on the types of licenses, bait, limits, and other fishing limitations, contact the area park office or the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Bring your small hand carried boat and access the lake near the campground and spend your day exploring the lake or fishing in deeper waters. If you don’t have a boat, visit the Lake Louise Lodge, a two-mile drive from the recreation area, and inquire about a boat, jet ski, or kayak rental. The lodge is open year-round, and visitors may rent fishing boats in the warmer months or choose ice fishing in the winter months when boat fishing isn’t feasible. Contact the lodge for pricing and questions.
Lake Louise is a scenic location to relax and enjoy Alaska’s beautiful, sparkling lake. The day use area has restrooms and picnic areas as well as benches situated along the water if you feel like wandering around the lakeshore after lunch. The area has a small boat launch and many places to sit in the shade should you get warm, and plenty of the unshaded portions should you become cold. Berry picking is a favorite activity near the lake, so bring your baskets and pick up a local berry picking guide to help you choose the perfect berry!
The local wildlife and bird viewing opportunities are abundant in the Lake Louise area because the lake fosters a welcoming habitat for many of Alaska’s creatures. Birds like waterfowl, loons, trumpeter swans call the lake their home in the summer months. The lake’s freshwater also sustains the rare nesting cormorants. The nesting area, called Bird Island is special because gulls don’t usually nest inland near fresh water, so this species of bird so far inland is unique. Aside from birds, the area supports moose, bear, fox, sheep, lynx, and the annual migration of the Nelchina caribou herd, seen in October and November. Bring your cameras, your binoculars, and your wildlife guides and see how many animals you can spot on your trip to Lake Louise.
If you are interested in riding the trails in and around the Lake Louise and the Copper Basin areas, consider contacting the Lake Louise Snowmachine Club. The club is a nonprofit organization that helps maintain and support over 200 miles of trails near Lake Louise and Copper River. The club provides information on snowmachine safety, winter safety, and details about snowmobiling on the club’s maintained trail areas. Visit the club’s website or contact any of the posted numbers for specific questions or information relating to snowmobiling.
The Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights are magical. If you want to see the elusive lights, your best bet is to schedule your visit during the prime viewing months. The darkest skies produce the most vibrant lights, and the middle of winter is prime viewing season. Sometimes the lights become visible during the end of summer into early September, but your chances of seeing them during the warmer months aren’t as strong. Schedule a tour with one of the local Aurora Borealis charters for your best chances at seeing the Northern Lights. The charters monitor the solar activity, the weather, and other factors that might impact the Aurora. The charter tours remove the guesswork out of searching the skies, so all you need to do is have fun and look for the lights.