Exploring Alaska’s Own Caines Head State Recreation Area

Alaska - Caines Head State Recreation AreaAlaska – Caines Head State Recreation Area


Located 5.5 miles south of Seward, Caines Head State Recreational Area runs into the west side of Resurrection Bay. Caines Head got its name from a sea captain, Captain E.E. Caines, who owned a wooden steamer named the Santa Ana. Caines was famous for bringing the first permanent settlers to the Seward area on August 28, 1903 in this vessel.

The park is covered in spruce and fir trees that range from 40 to more than 100 feet in height. Partnered with other plush plants and vegetation make this area a maritime rainforest. This forest area frames headlands and cliffs that give the appearance that they rise straight up from the shale covered beaches located around the park.

Located within the Caines Head State Recreational Area is Fort McGilvray. Known for once being a World War II fort, Fort McGilvray housed more than 2,000 United States soldiers from July 1941 until May 1943. Today remnants of those early residents can be seen throughout the Caines Head State Recreation Area. These sites include log cabin style buildings that stand as evidence of the living quarters of the soldiers, a mess hall, officers’ quarters and a recreational hall. Working utility facilities and services from this time period, which include a sewer system, communications system, water supply system and many other like amenities, can be viewed by visitors to the Caines Head area.

Recreational Activities

Nature enthusiasts will find that Caines Head Recreational Area is packed with both exciting and exhilarating recreational activities that they can choose to take advantage of during their stay in this area. Trails that were constructed by the World War II soldiers that called this area home can still be traveled by visitors today. You will be able to see the many different historical sites that make up this area, wildlife in its natural habitat and exotic plants, trees and vegetation that is native to this area.

Kayaking and canoeing are popular activities to both native residents and visitors who travel to the Caines Head Recreational area. Both offer great opportunities to experience fishing at its best while giving you the chance to experience all that Alaska has to offer. People can view areas around the park that does not have foot access. Examples of these sites include the historical gun turrets and army artifacts that are slowly crumbling away and the many caves that are located around the park area that cannot be reached by land.

Wildlife tours and charter trips are available by land, air and waterways throughout the park region. You will find many great sites that will take your breath away. From glaciers to mountain peaks, you are sure to be left wanting to see more. Tour guides are available to narrate your trips for you if you desire.


Caines Head Recreational area is home to many different species of wildlife. Among these creatures lives the porcupine, mountain goats, marmots and both the black bear and brown bear that can be seen throughout the alpine regions. Puffins, seals and sea otters are visible offshore and can be seen through various times of the year. Visitors can view these animals in their own natural habitat while hiking the many trails that are set up throughout the park or by joining one of many tour group excursions that are available.

While these animals are spectacular to watch, it is important to remember that they are still wild. Animal species such as the bear are curious by nature and will come into your area. It is important to make sure that you wash away any food scents from your clothing and hands, especially after activities such as fishing to keep bears from attacking you and your space. If selecting to camp within the Caines Head Recreational Area, do not cook or store food in your tent. It is best to store food in a steal utility box that is bear proof. It is also wise not to set up your camp on the game trails located throughout the park area.

Preparations for Your Visit to the Park

Whether you are planning on just spending the day or making preparations for an extended vacation to the park area, you will want to plan accordingly. As with all areas of Alaska, temperatures and weather conditions can be unpredictable so packing accordingly is important to the overall opinion of your trip and your safety.

Always dress in layers to help prepare for rises and drops in temperatures that may occur.

Pack extra water and food incase you are stranded in areas due to unexpected weather conditions.

Always have a first aid safety kit packed in your hiking gear to help in the event of injury to someone in your hiking party.

Make sure that when selecting camping gear you opt for the selections that cover the lowest temperature readings.

Flashlights, a whistle and a lighter can be lifesaving tools to keep with your hiking gear. Flashlights are important for visibility reasons, a whistle can help to scare away wildlife that can be threatening you and a lighter can help to create a fire to keep warm and cook your food by.

Overall you are sure to be both amazed and pleased with your time spent within Caines Head Recreational area. You will want to visit again soon. For more information about the park you can visit dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/caineshd.htm or contact the Alaska State Parks Department at (907) 262-5581.