Red Shirt Lake, Alaska, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Red Shirt Lake.

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Red Shirt Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - West - Alaska - Southcentral -

Red Shirt Lake, located in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area in Alaska, is a remote lake that offers outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to have an Alaskan wilderness experience at its finest with minimal human development. Red Shirt Lake is one of the largest lakes in Nancy Lake State Recreation Area with a surface area of 1,183 acres and a 13-mile shoreline.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers rustic cabins for vacation rentals with two cabins located on islands in Red Shirt Lake. Access to Red Shirt Lake is a three-mile hike from the Nancy Lake Parkway on a well-marked trail through the wilderness of Nancy Lake State Recreation Area. The trail ends at a remote camping area on the northern shore of Red Shirt Lake. To reach the cabins, a canoe is needed to cross Red Shirt Lake at the campground area. The canoe can be carried, or prior arrangements with a local canoe rental company will have a canoe waiting for you to load and paddle to your cabin. If you prefer not to hike, the alternate route to Red Shirt Lake is to charter a float plane that can land on the water and carry more essentials and gear to your location. During the winter, Red Shirt Lake can be accessed with snowmobiles, cross-county skis, snowshoes, or float planes. During the winter freeze and spring thaw, none of the cabins are accessible due to the thin ice unable to support weight.

The northern shoreline is owned by the Alaska DNR with a small boat launch ramp, campground, and access to the rental cabins. Most of the southern shoreline is privately owned, and the owners strive to maintain a remote lifestyle with peaceful and relaxing surroundings. Even with the remoteness of Red Shirt Lake, it has gained popularity as a fishing destination for northern pike, coho salmon, sockeye salmon, lake trout, and whitefish. Winter ice fishing is popular with area anglers.

Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is 22,685 acres of undeveloped wilderness. Red Shirt Lake is just one of many lakes, rivers, and streams that connect to make an extensive waterway system popular for canoeing. Canoes and motorboats share Red Shirt Lake during summer months. The Recreation Area also offers hiking trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, and canoe launches. During the snowy winter months, the canoe and hiking trails transform into trails for cross country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and skijoring (cross-country skier pulled by dogs). Ice skating is popular when lake ice is thick enough to support weight.

Bird watchers will want to bring their binoculars and cameras to Red Shirt Lake and Nancy Lake State Recreation Area as many birds and waterfowl use the area for nesting. The Artic Terns return from Antarctica during the summer to nest in this wilderness area. The common loon and Pacific loon can be seen nesting in the area along the shores of the many waterways.

Red Shirt Lake is a natural lake, but the local beavers and their dams play an important part in the water levels of all the lakes in Nancy Lake State Recreation Area. Paddlers often spot the beavers busily working or scampering in the water. Moose and black bear are commonly sighted in the area with occasional glimpses of grizzly bears.

Have you been looking for a “back to nature” experience? Want to get away from the loud noise, bright lights and crazy traffic of the big cities? Then now is the time to plan your trip to remote Red Shirt Lake in Alaska.

Custom Red Shirt Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Red Shirt Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Dog Sledding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Red Shirt Lake

  • Coho Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Red Shirt Lake

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Red Shirt Lake photo gallery

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Red Shirt Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,183 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 121 feet

Average Depth: 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Water Volume: 20,758 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 31 sq. miles

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