Spencer Bench Cabin is located at 1,900 feet in elevation at the end of the Spencer Bench Trail.
The trail climbs away from the lake revealing breathtaking views of the Placer River Valley, Spencer Lake and the Spencer Glacier below. The cabin sits just below several alpine meadows with vegetation of low shrubs, grasses and summer wildflowers.
Spencer Bench Cabin is available for rent year round.
Spencer Bench Cabin is available to rent on Recreation.gov from September 16th through May 31 annually.
During the summer season, from June 1 through September 15th, the Alaska Railroad provides access to the area as well as reservations for Spencer Bench Cabin. To reserve the cabin during the summer season, please contact the Alaska Railroad at 800-544-0552. Summer reservations go on sale on Feb.23 at 9am and generally sell out within hours.
Please verify schedules at the Alaska Railroad website (www.alaskarailroad.com) prior to relying on the train for transportation.
Outside of the core summer season, the Placer river valley (and Spencer Lake) is accessible via jet boat and float plane.
The cabin is a 15x17-foot, trapper-style cabin made entirely out of Alaskan yellow cedar. It can sleep six to eight people and offers a small kerosene heater, wooden bunks, a table with benches, fire extinguisher, and an outhouse. Electricity, water and fuel (kerosene) for the heater are not provided. Guests are responsible for supplying their own drinking water, kerosene for heater (Typically 1 gallon/ day is sufficient), a cook stove, flashlights or lanterns, bedding, mattresses, toilet paper, garbage bags, cookware, dishes and utensils. A creek is located near the cabin site but water should be treated before consumption.
Access to the Spencer Bench Cabin outside of the Alaska Railroad operating season can be extremely difficult. Boating up the Placer River is possible, but the river is very shallow in places. Extensive wetlands make cross-country travel nearly impossible. Once the temperatures have dropped below freezing for several weeks and especially after several feet of snow, travel is much improved using snowmachines or skis. Check for motorized use closures prior to using a snowmachine. In the winter months avalanche hazards are a real risk. Please reference www.CNFAIC.org for current avalanche conditions. Visitors are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety.
Spencer Bench Cabin is available for reservations through the Alaska Railroad from June 1 through September 15, annually. To reserve the cabin during the summer season, call the Alaska Railroad at (800 )544-0552.
NOTE: Reservations for the summer season open at 9am on Feb. 23rd, 2022 and are likely to sell out within hours.
Black and brown bears, wolves, lynx, wolverine and moose inhabit the area. Mountain goats, marmots, arctic ground squirrels and spruce grouse may be spotted on the terrain around the cabin. Crow berries and Salmon Berries are plentiful in the late summer, along with low-bush blueberries.
The Placer River Valley and Spencer Lake developed Recreation area offers diverse recreational opportunities including easy hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, rafting and fishing during the summer months. In the winter this area is popular with backcountry skiers and snowmobilers.
Spencer Bench provides a picturesque view into the heart of the Chugach National Forest. Although the Spencer Bench Trail currently ends at the cabin, the open alpine areas just above the cabin offer excellent off-trail hiking and sightseeing opportunities during the summer months. Glaciers and peaks around the cabin offer experienced climbers a challenging adventure.
For winter recreationists, this cabin provides an incredible base camp for backcountry skiing and snowmachine adventures. It takes an advanced skillset and knowledge of avalanche hazards to access this Cabin via skis or snowmachines in the winter. Some parties do opt to charter a ski plane or helicopter to provide quick and easy winter access. More information on avalanche hazards in this area can be found at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center website (www.CNFAIC.org).
145 Forest Station Rd. PO Box 129 Girdwood AK 99587
For campground inquiries, please call: WINTER 907-783-3242 SUMMER 800-544-0552
To catch the train (reservations required) into the Spencer Whistle Stop, drive south from Anchorage on the Seward Highway to the Portage Rail Depot (Milepost 80) and check in at the Train station. In the winter months there are 2 snowmachine parking lots at Seward Highway Milepost 78 where snowmachines can access the Cabin by heading up the Placer River Valley. Note: Over snow access is condition dependent. Please call the Glacier Ranger District office (907-783-3242) for info on access via snowmachine.