Spencer Bench Cabin

Chugach National Forest

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.  Please note: some years Spencer Bench Trail maintains snow coverage until July. For current trail conditions call the Glacier Ranger District at (907) 783-3242.

Spencer Bench Cabin is available for rent year round although winter recreation here requires 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. 

From May 25th through September 15th 2024, the Alaska Railroad provides access to the area via the Glacier Discovery Train. Please verify schedules and book train tickets at the Alaska Railroad website 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, toilet paper, 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.

Notifications and Alerts

Need to Know

Natural Features

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.

Nearby Attractions

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 .  

Contact Information


145 Forest Station Rd. PO Box 129 Girdwood AK 99587

Phone Number

For campground inquiries, please call: WINTER 907-783-3242 SUMMER 800-544-0552

Rental Options

Learn more about gear rental options for your trip

Driving Directions

During Summer months train transportation is required to reach the Spencer Whistlestop. To catch the train (reservations required) to 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. Please note: over snow access is condition dependent. For current conditions call the Glacier Ranger District office at (907) 783-3242.

Available Campsites

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