Parks Near Me
MRV: The Buzz
An Authentic Alaskan Experience:
Bear Creek Cabins and RV Park
Bear Creek Cabins Is A Campsite Where Guests Can Experience The Authentic Alaskan Outdoors While Fishing And Sightseeing.
As a little girl growing up in Texas, LaVerne Eickman dreamed about visiting Alaska.
“I love to read, and I read everything,” she explains. “[A magazine] had the story of building the Alaska Highway, and I was just fascinated by it.”
In addition to driving the Alaska Highway, LaVerne also dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights. Today, LaVerne and her husband Tim split their time between Texas and their RV park in Valdez, Alaska. Each Spring, they travel the Alaska Highway on their way to Valdez from the “lower forty-eight”—the affectionate Alaskan term for the lower United States.
“It was always a dream of Tim’s to have a place in Alaska,” LaVerne recalls fondly. Tim lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, from 1981 to 1999, when he moved to Texas. “After Tim moved out of Alaska, he came back every summer. He just loved it; he couldn’t stay away. He’d bring people with him, and he wanted to have a place where they could come and stay.”
With this in mind, owning an RV park seemed like the natural business to get into. “We found [the park] just driving down the highway. The real estate sign had actually been grown over with trees.” When they purchased it in 2007, the eighteen acres of land had four log cabins and a two story house on it. The house hadn’t been occupied in years, and the tree-covered land had to be cleared in order to build up the RV park. “We laid the roads, electric lines, cable, and water lines and built the bath house. We did most of the work ourselves,” LaVerne says proudly. The Eickmans can now accommodate ninety RVs on their wooded tract of Alaskan paradise in addition to housing guests in the log cabins and the two-story house.
In a town that is known as one of the snow capitals of the world, Tim and LaVerne face the immense project every April of preparing the cabins and RV park for visitors. “We average about 350 to 600 inches of snow a year,” LaVerne says. “When we return to open the park, it’s usually covered in snow.” Snow at this depth can bury the log cabins during the winter. But the Eickmans get to work anyway, bringing up the water pipes that are buried ten feet underground for the winter, dusting out the cabins, and cleaning the bath house.
Bear Creek Cabin and RV Park is generally open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but as LaVerne explains, “Our season depends on Mother Nature. We’ve gotten here the first of May and had no snow on the ground, and we’ve gotten here the first of May and it snows until May 17th.” Snow makes it more difficult to get to the cabins and sites to clean them, so they generally let it melt on its own. “There’s no money in moving snow from one place to another,” LaVerne laughs.
When Mother Nature decides to let them open the RV park, it quickly fills with visitors from all around the globe. In the summertime, Valdez grows from a modest-sized town of 4,000 occupants to a tourist town of about 20,000 people. Campers come from Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, China, and the Canary Islands, just to name a few.
“That’s an enjoyable part for me every year,” says LaVerne, “meeting the people from everywhere.”
One of her fondest memories is of a couple from Germany who stayed at the camp for four days about five years ago. This German businessman took every other year off from work to travel. “He and his wife [brought] their RV down to the southern tip of South America. They had driven all the way up through South America, through Central America. He said there’s about one hundred miles through Central America where there are no roads so they had to take a boat. So, they loaded the RV on the boat… They came all the way up the West Coast through Canada to Alaska. When they left Alaska, they were going to drop down into the lower forty-eight and go all the way across to the East Coast and fly back. It was unique. It was something I’d never have known about had I not had an RV park.”
Guests can keep themselves busy with a variety of nearby activities to choose from. At the nearby harbor, just two miles from the park, campers can fish in the ocean for halibut and salmon. LaVerne adds, “There are day cruises, where you go out at ten in the morning and come back at seven in the evening, [exploring] Prince William Sound. There are lots of charters up here to go fishing. In July and August, you can salmon fish.”
Every year, salmon run back up the creek for which the campground got its name. Bear Creek runs along the north side of the RV park meandering in from the Richardson Highway, known to the locals as Ol’ Rich. “They [start running] between the first of August and the tenth of August. You never know [exactly when]. You just go out [to the creek] one day and there they are.”
Campers can also expect to be treated like friends. LaVerne and Tim have made it their mission to provide their guests with a genuine Alaskan experience.
“I had an area in the park last year that I called ‘my neighborhood.’” This section of the RV park started with two families who became fast friends. They fished together on a daily basis, and began bringing other friends they’d made while fishing back to RV park to also stay for a few nights. LaVerne befriended them all. “It’s almost like making more friends than you ever thought you’d have. When you pull in here from the lower forty-eight—or anywhere else in the world—this is what we want you to think of as ‘Alaska’.”
And as far as her dream of seeing the Northern Lights…“I did get to see them [when we were] leaving last year.” Because they left in early October, after closing the park around Labor Day, they were afforded a dark nighttime sky, which isn’t the case throughout the summer in Alaska. “Around June 21st, we’ll only have about twilight in the middle of the night. Otherwise, it’s almost twenty-four hours of sun.”
The continual sunlight is just another of the features that makes staying at Bear Creek Cabins and RV Park so unique. As LaVerne explains, “The constant sunlight is fascinating to most. It is strange at first, but I’ve adjusted. It’s great to have all that sunshine.” LaVerne and Tim know they are fortunate to be able to make a living out this one-of-a-kind camping experience. “As a girl from Texas,” LaVerne says, “it is an unbelievable adventure every year I come. I never tire of it. It’s all you would hope for and more.”
A graduate of Trinity Christian College in English & Political
Science, Kailyn has written for Brilliance
Publishing & GEMS' Girls Clubs among others. She enjoys hiking and
Make Sure To Stay At:
Bear Creek Cabins And RV Park, located at 2 Mile Richardson Highway in beautiful Valdez, Alaska.
Surrounded by 18 acres of wilderness, it has views of the mountains and
salmon bearing creek. It’s easy to relax and enjoy your camping