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Camping at Thumb Cove State Marine Park

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General Overview

Thumb Cove State Marine Park, located on the eastern shore of Resurrection Bay, is approximately nine miles south of Seward, Alaska. The park is considered a marine wilderness that spans across 720 acres, and it is particularly known for its scenic beauty, with rugged cliffs, pebble beaches, and dense forests.


Thumb Cove State Marine Park is primarily accessible by water. Visitors can arrive via kayak, boat, or water taxi from Seward. There is no road access to this remote park. Anchorage is the nearest major city and serves as a common starting point for excursions to the cove.


The park offers a rustic, wilderness experience with limited amenities and no developed campsites. Camping is allowed on the beaches above the high tide line. Campers need to be mindful of tidelines and choose their camping spots accordingly to avoid being swamped by rising tides.


Facilities in Thumb Cove State Marine Park are very basic. There are no formal restroom facilities, so visitors must follow Leave No Trace principles meticulously. This involves packing out all trash and using portable toilets or digging a cat hole at least 6 inches deep and 200 feet from water sources for human waste.

Wildlife and Plants

The park is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including black and brown bears, so campers should be bear-aware and store food using bear canisters or in bear-proof food lockers when available. Bald eagles, puffins, sea otters, and whales may also be spotted. The area contains a lush rainforest environment where Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees are common.


Popular Activities include:

  • Kayaking and Canoeing: The cove's sheltered waters are ideal for paddling.
  • Fishing: Anglers can fish for salmon, halibut, and other species in the bay.
  • Hiking: There are hiking opportunities on the shore and trails leading into the surrounding forest.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The park is an excellent location for observing marine life and birds.
  • Scuba Diving: Divers can explore the underwater environment of Resurrection Bay, but must be experienced due to the cold water temperatures.

Safety and Regulations

  • Safety: Visitors should always be prepared for sudden weather changes and cold temperatures. Safety gear for boating, appropriate clothing, and emergency supplies are crucial.
  • Bear Country: As mentioned, bear safety precautions should be taken seriously.
  • Fishing Regulations: Any fishing done in the park must comply with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulations.

Seasonal Considerations

The peak season for visiting Thumb Cove State Marine Park is during the summer months from June to August, when the weather is relatively milder. However, campers should be prepared for rain and unpredictable weather regardless of the season. Winter visits are possible but require advanced preparation and skills for cold-weather camping and navigation.

Map of Campgrounds in Thumb Cove State Marine Park
Campgrounds in Thumb Cove State Marine Park
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