Big Lake, Alaska, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Big Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Big Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Big Lake

There are over 3,000 lakes in the Mat-Su Valley, and Big Lake is one of the largest. The Mat-Su Borough, which is short for Matanuska-Susitna, is 24,000 square miles, about the size of West Virginia. With the beauty of the surrounding Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains and the clean glacial water and bays, it is easy to see why the Mat-Su Valley is “Where Alaska Comes to Play”. Big Lake’s slogan is “Alaska’s Year-Round Playground”.

Big Lake is a natural lake 15 miles west of Wasilla and about 45 minutes from Anchorage. Many residents live in the Town of Big Lake and commute to Anchorage for work. Its proximity to populated areas has made Big Lake a popular year-round recreation destination. The area’s first inhabitants were the Athabascan Dena’ina Indians. Around 1899 the Boston and Klondike Company made the first sled trail via Big Lake into the Talkeetna Mountains. Settlement expanded with homesteaders in 1929 and after World War II. By the late 1950’s lodges, cottages and recreation camps, including some for children, had grown up around the lake. By the 1960’s and 70’s improvements to roads in the area made residential lakefront development practical.

Today there are permanent residences and recreational cabins around Big Lake along with boat ramps, at least one marina, and lakeshore restaurants. Big Lake South Wayside and Big Lake North Wayside recreation sites have campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and boat launches. Boating is popular on the lake for motor boats, jet skis, canoes and kayaks.

The same development that made Big Lake so accessible for recreation eventually threatened its water quality. Although the lake has been through several studies and conservation plans, its water is still classified as oligotrophic. Oligotrophic lakes have very good water quality with few algal species. They don’t usually support large populations of fish, but the fish in oligotrophic lakes tend to grow to exceptional sizes. The same is true of Big Lake. Big Lake has artic char, burbot, northern pike, and rainbow trout. There are also Coho or sliver salmon and sockeye or red salmon. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocked Big Lake until 1993.

Big Lake has been a popular recreation spot for Alaskans since the 1940’s. The community of Big Lake and its proximity to Wasilla, Palmer and Anchorage make it an accessible destination for visitors from all over. Accommodations range from camping and cabins to resorts and chain hotels. There are restaurants and shopping and any amenities a visitor might want. There are also Iditarod Racer’s dog kennels nearby with tours available in the summer. The annual 1,100 mile sled dog race starts just a few miles away in Wasilla.

With the majestic background of the Chugach Mountains and the beautiful clean water, it is easy to see why Big Lake is “Alaska’s Year-Round Playground”. Its accessibility and amenities make it a great Alaska destination for visitors from all over.

Things to Do at Big Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish Species Found at Big Lake

  • Burbot
  • Char
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Big Lake

If you’re considering a Big Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Big Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Big Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Big Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,495 acres

Shoreline Length: 26 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 142 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 89 feet

Water Volume: 90,723 acre-feet

Lake Area-Population: 3,639

Drainage Area: 90 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Big Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Big Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Big Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Big Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Big Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!