The state of Alaska is also known as The Last Frontier. This wilderness state is renowned for its spectacular mountain scenery, crystal clear glacial lakes, and abundant wildlife. Alaska is the most northwestern state in the U.S and has an extensive, rugged coastline that is longer than that of all the other states combined.
Dogs have long been part of the Alaskan way of life, dating back at least 5,000 years to the first settlers on the North American continent. Today, the official state dog of Alaska is the Alaskan malamute, as designated on April 18th 2010, following a campaign by school students in the city of Anchorage.
Alaskan Malamutes are perfectly adapted to the country’s harsh winters and freezing temperatures, but if you intend to come here with your dog for a vacation or to relocate, you’ll need to make sure he’s kitted out with warm coats and waterproof booties to protect him from the unforgiving climate.
Despite its sparse population, many of Alaska’s towns and cities make provision for resident dog owners by providing a surprising number of dog parks, some of which are off-leash. Your dog is also welcome in the many state parks that dot this region, provided that you keep him on a leash and pick up after him.
In this article, we take a tour around ten of the most popular off-leash dog parks The Last Frontier has to offer.
But first, there are some crucial things you need to know before you come to Alaska with a canine companion.
- 1 Licenses
- 2 Leash Laws
- 3 Park Rules
- 4 Our 10 Picks
- 4.1 Fairbanks Dog Park, Fairbanks
- 4.2 University Lake, Anchorage
- 4.3 Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage
- 4.4 Connor’s Bog, Anchorage
- 4.5 South Anchorage Sports Park, Anchorage
- 4.6 Chugach State Park, Anchorage
- 4.7 Arctic/Benson Park, Anchorage
- 4.8 Whisper Faith Kovach Park, Anchorage
- 4.9 Valley of the Moon Park, Anchorage
- 4.10 Hillside Park, Anchorage
- 5 Final Thoughts
Any dog four months of age or older must have a current license to enter Alaska.
Also, you may not bring a dog into Alaska that is affected by a contagious or infectious disease. Your dog must have a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or Health Certificate to enter the state.
If your dog is over three months of age, he will need to have a current rabies vaccination certificate and Health Certificate that are issued within 30 days of your arrival. If you are traveling to Alaska from a rabies quarantined area, you must contact the State Veterinarian Office in Anchorage at 970-375-8215 to obtain a permit number.
If your dog is aged over 12 weeks and cannot be vaccinated against rabies because of a medical condition, you must have an Exemption from Rabies Vaccination Form (PDF 33K). This form must be signed by you and by the vet who examined your pet. The State of Alaska must also approve the form before you arrive.
Alaska doesn’t have a state-wide leash law, so you should check city regulations with the local government office for the area you intend to visit.
However, as a general rule of thumb, you should have your dog leashed whenever you are walking him in a public place unless you are in a designated off-leash dog park.
All dog parks have rules and regulations prominently displayed on the entrance gate. Rules for dog parks in Alaska are as follows:
- You must have a license and a current rabies vaccination to be permitted in the park.
- All dogs must be kept on a leash when entering and leaving the dog park.
- Female dogs in heat and entire male dogs are not permitted in the park.
- You must remain in the dog park with your pet at all times.
- Your dog must be under strict voice control.
- You must immediately clean up any feces deposited by your dog.
- If your dog digs a hole, you must fill it in.
- You are responsible for all actions by your dog while he is in the dog park.
Before you take your dog into a park, always read the rules thoroughly and in full.
Our 10 Picks
We’ve put together a list of ten of the most popular dog parks that Alaska has to offer. Before you travel, check out what’s available in the areas you plan to visit.
Dog park rules aren’t all that different from other state laws like Arizona and Alabama, but you should be sure to brush up on your local laws before taking your dog into public so you are aware of what your liability is.
Fairbanks Dog Park, Fairbanks
As the name suggests, Fairbanks Dog Park is located within the South Davis Park Complex in Fairbanks (here).
This off-leash dog park enjoys a 20-acre site, of which 10 acres is comprised of a natural area. There’s a half-mile of walking trails, a fenced lawn for training, events, demos, and two fenced play areas. There’s also a pond that can be used for training your dog or for cooling him off on a warm day.
The park is open every day for 24 hours during the summer and from 2 pm until 10 pm in the winter. Lighting is provided for those who want to visit the park at night.
University Lake, Anchorage
For a taste of the Great Outdoors and a walk on the wild side, you might like to take a trip to the off-leash area at University Lake, Anchorage (here).
There’s lots to enjoy here for dogs and their owners, including somewhere to play with a Frisbee or ball, wade in the river, a one-mile hiking trail around the lake, and breathtaking scenery.
You will need to take water for your dog and a supply of poop bags. There are no waste stations, so you’ll need to bring home any deposits made by your pup!
A word of caution – there are aggressive beavers that live in the lake. They are very territorial, and some dog owners have experienced problems with beaver attacks on their pets. However, if you keep your dogs out of the lake and under voice control, you should not have a problem with the local wildlife. Moose also live in the area around the lake and can become aggressive during rutting season.
Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage
Far North Bicentennial Park is located (here) in Anchorage. This is a beautiful, scenic park where your dog can let loose and enjoy some off-leash fun. It is essential that you have your pet under voice control, as the park does not have fencing.
The park is in a beautiful setting, and there are lots of different trails to explore, many of which have stunning views. Follow the streams and rivers, and enjoy the ever-changing scenery as the seasons change. Do be careful to pick up after your dog, and use the waste stations provided to keep the park clean for other users, including walkers and cyclists.
You may also see wildlife, including moose and bear; needless to say, be sure to keep your dog under control, and don’t confront the local critters!
To get an idea of what to expect at the park, check out this video.
Connor’s Bog, Anchorage
Connor’s Bog off-leash dog park is found within Connor’s Lake Park, (here) not far from Anchorage airport.
As you’ll see from this brief video clip, it’s a favorite place where dogs can enjoy off-leash socializing and exercise. There are lots of man-made and dog-made trails to explore, and your pet can take a dip in the lake if he enjoys swimming.
Be aware that there are minimal human amenities at this location, so do plan ahead. Bring water for your dog and a supply of poop bags. Also, some users have mentioned that vast swarms of mosquitos frequent the bog during the summer months, so please come equipped with bug spray, long-sleeved clothes, and trousers.
Moose live in the area too, so always be confident that you have your dog under strict voice control.
South Anchorage Sports Park, Anchorage
South Anchorage Sports Park in Anchorage has a dog park, as well as an American Legion baseball field, an RC track, paintball fields, and two little league fields. You and your dog are welcome in all areas of the park, but your pet must remain leashed outside of the designated dog park area.
The large, off-leash area borders most of the park but there is no lighting, so if you come here late in the day, you’ll need to bring a torch. Also, there is no fencing around the off-leash area, so you will need to be sure that your dog is under strict voice control. However, the whole park area does have a fence around its borders to deter wild animals such as bear and moose.
You will need to bring poop bags and take any waste away with you. The park is open year-round from dawn till dusk.
Chugach State Park, Anchorage
Chugach State Park (here) is one of the four largest state parks in the U.S and is situated just seven miles from downtown Anchorage. You and your dog will find plenty of trails to explore in this beautiful backcountry area that extends for close on 500,000 acres. There are 16 trailheads and 110 trails to explore, which cover almost 280 miles!
Here you’ll find rugged landscapes bounded on the north and west by the Alaska Mountain Range and to the east by the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains and Prince William Sound. An extensive coastline borders the region, and there are majestic glaciers, lakes, dense forests, and ice fields to see too.
Chugach represents wild Alaska, and there are over 45 species of mammals living here, including brown bears, black bears, moose, lynx, beavers, foxes, river otters, and even a wolf pack. So, dogs must be kept leashed at all times in the park, except when in backcountry areas when your dog must be under strict voice control.
To see Chugach State Park in all its glory, check this video courtesy of Alaska Magazine.
Arctic/Benson Park, Anchorage
Arctic/Benson Park is located (here) in downtown Anchorage.
The off-leash, fenced dog park is a good size and has a mix of trees and open space, giving you the option of both sun and shade. There are a few benches provided for you to take the weight off while your dog romps with his new friends. There’s a proper in-and-out gated entrance to reduce the risk of a dog escaping. Although there are poop bags and a small waste station provided, there’s no water here, so you’ll need to bring drinks for your pup and you.
The dog park is open to all dogs, but there is a designated time for small pups under 25 pounds and service dogs to use the facility on Saturdays and Sundays 10 am till 12 noon, and Wednesdays 5:30 pm till 7:30 pm.
The only real drawback to Arctic/Benson Park is that the dog park area is adjacent to a playground that seems to be the preferred hangout of the local drug user and alcoholic community.
Whisper Faith Kovach Park, Anchorage
Whisper Faith Kovach Dog Park is located (here) in Anchorage. The dog park is relatively new, and the local authority has done a great job!
The park is fenced and divided into two separate areas for large dogs and smaller pups under 25 pounds. There’s no water fountain, so you’ll need to bring water for your pet, but there are poop stations provided for clean-up. Inside the dog park, you’ll find an obstacle course with oversized tires for dogs to run through and jump onto, a small ramp, and lots of landscaped hills.
The park is open from dawn till dusk every day, year round. However, if you come in the evening or during the winter months, note that there are no lights, so you’ll need to bring a torch. Also, the park can get very icy underfoot during freezing weather.
Valley of the Moon Park, Anchorage
Whimsically-named, Valley of the Moon Dog Park is located (here) in Anchorage.
Until 2017, the park’s baseball diamond was used by dog owners to exercise their pets. But in the summer of that year, the area became an official dog park with proper entrances, fencing, and an ADA accessible pathway. There’s also LED lighting for the extended parking area, so you’ll find plenty of space to park when you bring your dog here for a run.
The dog park itself is a large, open area where your dog can have fun off-leash and run riot with his pals. You’ll need to bring poop bags, but the park does have a few waste stations.
Hillside Park, Anchorage
Hillside Park is located (here) in Anchorage. Although this is not officially a dog park, you are allowed to walk your dog here, provided he on a leash.
At the park entrance, you’ll find a map of the many different trails here, some of which have fantastic views of the city of Anchorage. Be aware that, the higher the trail number, the more challenging the path is! During the summer, the trails are used by mountain bikers and in winter by cross-country skiers.
You’ll need to bring water and poop bags with you when you visit Hillside Park.
The Last Frontier State is a land of stunning scenery, incredible wildlife, and friendly, dog-loving people. Alaska is a place you must visit at least once during your lifetime, and your dog will love it here too.
Dogs are welcome in most of the state parks in Alaska, but you will need to keep Fido leashed and pick up after him too. Also, be aware that there is lots of four-legged wildlife here that won’t take kindly to being chased or harassed by your dog! So, be sure to keep your pet under strict voice control, especially when you’re exploring areas that are off the beaten track.