The birch forest around the Alaska State Parks’ Beluga Cabin rang with shouts and laughter last Saturday as the second Family Adventure Day kicked off in fine style. A project between AKontheGO and State Parks, the event is one of several designed to give parents and kids a heads up into seasonal family fun available at many park locations, and featured a snowshoe obstacle course, crafting, ranger hikes, and most important, a chance to understand the mechanics of public use cabin overnighting.
As experienced temporary cabin-dwellers within the state parks inventory, we set up Beluga Cabin with all the trappings of success, from stove to sleeping bags, to show off how it’s done, but also because we decided to bunk overnight and take advantage of the tail end of summer’s official hoorah.
Located at Mile 101 of the Seward Highway a mere 30 minutes from Anchorage, Beluga Cabin is part of the popular Bird Creek Campground, and one of two cabins on the site (the other is the Bore Tide Cabin at the north end of the campground). Beluga is the closest, right near the official campground entrance on the southern side, making it easy as pie to load and unload gear and kids and get busy having fun.
Sleeping up to eight guests in a combination of single and double bunks and an expansive loft space, the cabin also has an expansive table and ample counter space for food prep, in addition to an outdoor picnic table and large fire ring. What do guests bring? Here’s our list of must-have’s for fall public use overnighting at Beluga Cabin:
- Sleeping bags, pillows, sleeping pads. Note: the bunks are hard, slick wood, so pads tend to slither around. Maybe bring two per person.
- Lighting. The midnight sun is fading fast, and cabins are dim lighting on the sunniest of days. Bring a lantern (hang it from the ceiling chain provided), headlamps, or grab a set of battery-powered holiday lights for fun.
- Stove. Whether you’re a minimalist or like to schlep the two-burner Coleman stove, you’ll need something upon which to cook the delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners your family will oooh and ahhh over. I like at least two burners/stoves anyway; one to cook meals and the other to keep hot water boiling for drinks and dishes. Oh, and don’t forget the food and snacks. And a cooler in which to keep it. We like Adventure Appetites grub, wholesome and hearty and so easy to make (we tested many recipes on kids at Family Adventure Day and they loved it all!)
- Water. Since the cabin is within a campground, potable water is readily available, but we always, always bring our large 5-gallon jugs of water from home, because sometimes pumps don’t work or are shut off for the season, particularly in fall and winter. Don’t forget water bottles as well.
- Kitchen gear. Pots, pans, utensils, plates, all that good stuff for cooking and eating.
- Books, games, and music-makers. What better way to spend a night than playing a game of Uno, or strumming a ukulele?
Beluga Cabin’s location also means access to the popular Bird-to-Gird National Recreational Trail, a 13-mile paved pathway leading to Girdwood. Bring the bikes, scooters, and other people-powered wheeled things for a bit of riding along scenic Turnagain Arm.
How can one make reservations? Right here, through ReserveAmerica. Tip: Weekends fill up fast, but sometimes there are cancellations, so keep checking!
The next Family Adventure Day, by the way, will be held Saturday, December 7 from 12-3 p.m. at Dolly Varden Cabin, Eklutna Lake.
~ EK, Alaska State Parks Ambassador