Lower Chatanika State Recreational Area
Olnes Pond State Campground and Whitefish State Campground
These two campgrounds lie on opposite sides of the Chatanika River. Both are gorgeous and we would recommend either one:
We have had difficulty finding nice camping spots near Fairbanks. We were pleasantly surprised to find such a pretty site. What was once a rock quarry has now filled with water. The manmade pond plays host to a number of waterfowl. We heard moose running through our campsite as we were falling asleep.
To find this campground, head north out of Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. At Fox there will be a fork where the road splits to the left and right. Bear left and follow highway 2 about 21 miles toward Livengood. Brown signs will direct you to the entrance to the campground on the left side of the road.
Olnes Pond features 15 campsites around the watershed. Most of the sites are on the grassy strip next to the water. The other, more private sites are on the far side of the pond. These sites have a lot of tree roots running all over the ground so it is a more difficult area to tent. There are toilets at several locations around the loop, some of which are the fancy new fangled outhouses the park service is trying to get us used to using. There is a water pump, but this was broken during our last visit (Spring 2000). There are fire pits at each campsite, and most also have picnic tables. There is an $8.00 fee to camp overnight.
Several trails leave from various points along the loop and head out to the Chatanika River. The trails are fairly flat and wide enough so ATVs can be driven on them. However, they were very muddy when I tried to mountain bike through. They are short enough to walk and a good pair of waterproof hiking boots would be the ideal way of exploring them.
Just across the Chatanika River from Olnes Pond Campground there is another campground of comparable quality. In fact, Claimjumper prefers this campground to Olnes, especially since we camped right next to river.
This campground is again on the left side of the Elliot Highway (Alaska 2) headed east out of Fox. It is about two tenths of a mile past Olnes Pond Campground.
This campground again features about a dozen campsites with fire pits and picnic tables, toilets, a covered picnic area, water, and boat launch areas for the river.When we stayed at this campground we shared our campsite with a bicycle tourist named Andrzej from Dewitt, Michigan. We love to invite bicycle travelers to join us at our campsite– they have wonderfully interesting stories to tell about their adventures and if they are traveling alone they are always happy to have somebody to talk with and share their experiences. Andrzej had started in Fairbanks and was on his way up to Prudhoe Bay. Originally from Poland, he had bicycled all over Eastern Europe. We received a letter from Andrzej after his trip. He told us that he lost a wheel on the way up, and had to be taken back to Fairbanks to repair his bicycle. He ended up taking his bicycle on the train to Denali National Park, and riding into the park. Andrzej is a terrific example of an adaptable adventurer!
To review the State's Info on this campground, click into www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/chatanik.htm
Last Visited: May 2000