Enjoying Alaska State Parks’ Rainbow Trout Cabin

A hungry crew eats dinner around the family table at the Alaska State Parks Rainbow Trout cabin. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

It may be small, but the newest Eklutna Lake public use cabin is an Alaska State Parks gem. Rainbow Trout is only 16′ X 20′ but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in glowing natural light and a wealth of easy-to-access activities in and around the lake. 

One of two cabins recently built in the “frontcountry” of Eklutna, Rainbow Trout is part of Alaska State Parks’ mission to provide accessible, family-friendly options for those not wanting to hike, bike, or ATV up to 12 miles to a backcountry cabin or campsite. Open for reservations for up to three nights, Rainbow Trout is a short walk from the Eklutna Lake day-use area in the summer (about 1/4 mile); and twice that in the winter when roads are gated. That said, the walks are also perfect for new hikers and backpackers, and it’s fun to lock the car, load packs on shoulders or grab wagon handles and head into the boreal forest bordering the bluish expanse of Eklutna Lake. 

Sleeping eight comfortably (two double bunks downstairs and a loft upstairs), Rainbow Trout is part of the Alaska State Parks collection of newish public use cabins that provide warm shelter during Alaska’s funky seasons, and the security of knowing the furry critters who also share Alaska with us are not able to get in and cause us trouble. Granted, we saw two coyotes, moose tracks, and signs that bears are waking up, but it was definitely more comfortable for the kids in our party to know they’d be indoors behind solid logs at night. 

Eklutna is full of driftwood, which makes structures like these fun to find. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

During the day, we drank coffee, ate pound after pound of bacon (don’t judge), built driftwood forts and tossed rocks in the water. We also spent a good amount of time on the cabin’s back deck, faces turned toward the sun, marveling in the glory of Alaska, springtime, and the view just beyond our boot tops. 

Rainbow Trout cabin, like many in Alaska State Parks, fills up fast on weekends, so it’s a good idea to reserve as soon as possible for the summer. I’d also recommend a weekday stay, if you can (plus, the whole area will be quieter — this place is nuts in the busy summer season). 


  • Firewood for the wood stove or outside fire pit, and starter, matches, etc. 
  • Lighting, even in the middle of summer
  • Water (one gallon per person, per day) 
  • Sleeping bags, pads, and pillows 
  • Food, remembering that nothing can be left outside on decks for safety’s sake. There is no refrigeration.
  • Rubber boots or water shoes to fully enjoy the muddy, mucky Eklutna shoreline
  • Kayaks and bikes in summer; skis, snowshoes, sleds, and fat bikes in the winter
  • Games, books, and s’more fixings for family-fun evenings 

Eklutna Lake is out of cell service range for almost everyone, so consider your family communication plans if everyone is to scatter about and do his or her own thing. Establish a meeting time and spot, and don’t allow younger kids to wander around alone. Black bears frequent Eklutna, and while they are mostly a nuisance, they are also wild and somewhat stubborn when it comes to moving along….

The view from Alaska State Parks’ Rainbow Trout cabin is stellar, especially when it’s your turn to do the dishes. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Welcome, spring and summer. We’re so ready for you. 

OH — and I almost forgot — Want have a ton of fun all in the name of Alaska State Parks, kids, and everything outdoors? AKontheGO and Alaska State Parks are co-sponsoring the 2019 Kids to Parks Day celebrations, held this year at Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area (Psst: We have AWESOME stickers to give away this year for our new ‘Families to Parks’ program.) Check out the party invite HERE

Let’s work to get more kids into Alaska’s parks and public lands. They are the future! Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO



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