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.
Park facilities are rustic and few, with emphasis placed on low-impact camping and "pack it in, pack it out" practices.
Named for its two separate systems of large, interconnected, clear water lakes, the park is characterized by its water-based ecosystems. Bordered by the Nushagak lowlands on the east and the Wood River Mountains to the west, the lake systems span a variety of terrain and vegetative zones renowned for their diverse beauty. 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. The lakes, varying in length from 15 to 45 miles, are deep and temperate, with water temperatures ranging from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer season.
The park lies in a biological transition zone between coniferous forest and tundra. In general, white spruce and mixed spruce-birch forest, as well as muskeg and willow-alder thickets exist up to approximately the 900-foot elevation. Above this are bare rock, heath tundra, and alpine meadow. At the lowest elevations, wet tundra and marshlands are common.
The climate varies from the humid, maritime influence of Bristol Bay in the south to the cooler, dryer continental influence of the interior to the north.
The weather is generally cool and moist, with daily July high/low temperatures averaging 65/45 degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation is most prevalent in the sumer, occurring about 27% of the time in August along the coast. Total precipitation averages 25 inches annually at Dillingham, with fairly large local variations experienced within the area.
Annual snowfall averages 60 to 70 inches at Dillingham and may reach more than 160 inches at Lake Nerka. Winds are usually moderate (0-30 mph), prevailing from the southeast/southwest in summer and from the north and east in winter.
Although the weather during the period from late May to early October permits outdoor recreational activities almost daily, flying, boating, and alpine activities are occasionally hampered or unsafe. Be prepared to delay your activities until conditions allow safe travel.
Fish and Wildlife
All five species of Pacific salmon -- king, sockeye (red), pink, silver, and chum -- spawn in the Wood River and Tikchik systems. Sockeye are the most important commercially.
Freshwater sport fish are generally prolific throughout the area. Rainbow trout, grayling, lake trout, arctic char, dolly varden, and northern pike abound. Whitefish is an important subsistence species in the Tikchik Lakes.
Moose and brown bear can be seen throughout the park with caribou and black bear populations limited, generally, to the northern and eastern areas. Common small game and furbearers include beaver, muskrat, otter, fox, wolverine, mink, and porcupine. Ground squirrels and marmots are abundant. Birds nesting in the area include a wide variety of waterfowl, gulls, bald eagle, golden eagle, arctic tern, various loons, spotted and least sandpipers, semi-palmated plover, willow ptarmigan, and spruce grouse. Numerous other migratory birds pass through.
For information regarding fish and game bag and possession limits, seasons, and methods of take, please refer to the appropriate Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulation booklet. Target shooting is not permitted within the park.
Daily commercial airline service is available from Anchorage to Dillingham. Round trip cost is about $320. Air charter by float-equipped and amphibious aircraft into the park is available from Dillingham. Air charter costs are approximately $250/hour and up, depending on the type of aircraft. 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 floating and/or paddling the rivers to one of several Native villages on the Nushagak River rapids and falls, just below the Tikchik Lake outlet. Portage is advised. The Allen River, which drains Chikuminuk Lake into Lake Chauekuktuli, requires several portages around Class V+ rapids.
Accommodations and Services
Five commercial sportfishing lodges are located on private property within the boundaries of the park. These lodges operate on a reservation basis only, do not cater to drop-in visitation, and do not provide ancillary services to those other than guests. Additionally, several privately owned cabins are found throughout the park. Please respect private property.
For a complete list of commercial operators authorized to conduct business within the park, write to the Park Headquarters address below.
**May 15 through October 1:
Wood-Tikchik State Park - (907) 842-2375
Dillingham, AK 99576
**October 1 through May 15:
Wood-Tikchik State Park - (907) 762-2654
3601 C Street, Suite 300
Anchorage, AK 99503-5921