With this distinction of the largest state park in the nation, this park is renowned for river rafting adventures
At 1.6 million acres, Wood-Tikchik State Park is not just Alaska's largest state park, it’s the nation’s largest. Located 30 miles north of Dillingham, the park preserves two large systems of interconnecting lakes that are the important spawning grounds for Bristol Bay's salmon.
The largest state park in the nation, at 1.6 million acres, Wood-Tikchik State Park was created in 1978 for the purpose of protecting the area's fish and wildlife breeding and support systems and preserving continued subsistence and recreational activities. The management philosophy is one of non-development and maintenance of the area's wilderness character.
Named for those two large, clear-water lakes, Wood-Tikchik features lakes that range in length from 15 to 45 miles. Spired peaks, high alpine valleys, and deep v-shaped arms give the lakes' western reaches a spectacular fjord-like appearance. The eastern edges of the lakes look out upon islands, gravel beaches, and the expansive tundra of the Nushagak lowlands.
Wildlife in the park includes brown and black bears, beavers, moose, foxes and wolves. The fishing for arctic char, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, salmon and northern pike is excellent. All five species of Pacific salmon spawn in the park. Birds nesting in the area include a wide variety of waterfowl, gulls, eagles, arctic tern, loons, sandpipers and grouse. Numerous transients pass through as well.
Wood-Tikchik is an ideal place for a wilderness canoe or kayak trip and several companies in Dillingham rent inflatable kayaks, rafts or canoes. In the park's southern half are the Wood River lakes, which are connected by shallow, swiftly moving rivers. Many parties arrange to be flown in and paddle out, returning to Dillingham via the Wood River. From a put-in on Lake Kulik, a paddle to Dillingham is close to 140 miles requiring from 10 to 14 days.
The Tikchik lakes, six lakes in the park's northern half, are much more remote than the Wood River lakes. The upper lakes are more challenging and more costly to experience. But the scenery – mountains, pinnacle peaks and hanging valleys surrounding the lakes – is impressive, and there will be far less motorboat activity. Kayaking is popular on these lakes, and those interested in river floating can get dropped off on Nishlik or Upnuk lakes and travel along the Tikchik River into Tikchik Lake.
With the exception of the five fishing lodges located on private property inside the park, Wood-Tikchik is almost totally undeveloped. You'll find some well-used campsites here and there, but no formal campgrounds and no trails. Even the park's ranger station is outside the park, at Lake Aleknagik.
Daily commercial airline service is available from Anchorage to Dillingham. Air charter by float-equipped and amphibious aircraft into the park is available from Dillingham. The entire park is currently open to private aircraft landings.
Water access to the Wood River Lakes is from Dillingham via the Wood River or from the village of Aleknagik, 24 miles north of Dillingham by road. The Wood River Lakes are interconnected by shallow, swift moving rivers which generally require jet-equipped watercraft. Most parties fly in and boat out.
Access to the Tikchik Lakes is primarily by aircraft. Parties exit the Tikchik Lakes by air, or float and/or paddle, to any one of several native villages on the Nushagak River, where air charter is available for transport back to Dillingham. Extreme caution is recommended when approaching the upper Nuyakuk River rapids and falls, just below Tikchik Lake outlet. Portage is advised.
Camping in several locations in the Upper Tikchik Lakes as well as Tikchik River float trips requires a permit. Permits need to be reserved in advance through the Dillingham Ranger Station and cost $100.
There are no roads to Wood-Tikchik State Park. Access is by air charter out of Dillingham, which has daily commercial air service from Anchorage. Boat access is from Dillingham via the Wood River. For more information or a list of commercial operators, contact the Dillingham Ranger Station (907-842-2641; www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/woodtik.htm).