Alaska Lottery
A Chance for Money or Privileges

Saying, Alaska lottery, makes Alaskans think first and foremost about the Nenana Ice Classic Lottery. This is a well-known Alaskan tradition and many people participate in it. Some people even make a lot of money off of it. And it is the only official money-making Alaskan lottery which has been around since the gold rush days.

But there are SEVERAL other important lotteries that are particularly interesting to many Alaskan tourists as well as residents.

McNeil Game Sanctuary Lottery

This is an important Alaska lottery for those who want to do some quality, close up bear viewing or bear photography. Because so many people want to go to the McNeil Sanctuary, a lottery was started to control the number of visitors and preserve the integrity of the bears' feeding grounds. It has one of the largest gathering of brown bears in the world during the summer salmon runs in McNeil River and nearby Mikfik Creek.

Volcanic Mt Augustine as Seen From McNeil Sanctuary
Photo of Brown Bear in McNeil Sanctuary

You'll also have plenty of opportunity to observe a multitude of Alaska's birds and other types of wildlife at the Sanctuary.

Lottery Application and Details:

Only 13 people are allowed to go to the Sanctuary at any one time and that is for a 4-day period. And only 10 of those are allowed to go to a bear viewing platform near one of the rivers. The others are on standby.

For Bear Viewing Permit Winners: - You'll have a 4-mile round-trip walk over some mud flats to reach the bear viewing platforms. They're near the waterfalls of two rivers. When you get there, you have to stand, along with 9 others, on a 10' by 10' gravel pad for 6 to 8 hours. That could be a strenuous day if you're not used to that kind of activity.

For Standby Permit Winners: - Your permit allows you to view brown bears and other wildlife at the base camp viewing areas and along the beach. You do not have access to the viewing platforms near the waterfalls unless a Viewing Permit holder cancels one of his trips. That usually happens though, so you are quite likely to have the opportunity to take the 4-mile hike at least one of the 4 days that you are at the Sanctuary.

Here are some statistics that could help you make decisions on your Alaska lottery application:

  • The largest number of bears available for viewing at McNeil River in the past, have occurred from July 13 to July 20, which is at the peak of the chum salmon run. Of course, those are the time slots a lot of people bid on, so they're harder to win. In the past, only 3% to 4% of the bidders win in those two time slots.
  • The two or three times slots before and after the mid-July dates are also excellent for McNeil River bear viewing.
  • The largest number of bears (up to 25) available for viewing at Mikfik Creek in the past, have occurred from June 19 to June 30, when the red salmon run.
  • The largest number of bears available for viewing near the base camp and along the beach (standby permits) is from August 4 through August 15.
  • The highest percentage of lottery applicants that have won permits (24%) is in the first and last time slots of the summer, and there are also very few bears at those times.
  • There are 20, 4-day time slots you can choose from between June 7th and August 26th for Viewing Permits - a total of 185 permits issued annually; there are 19, 4-day times slots between June 9 and August 23, a total of 57 Standby Permits issued annually.

From those facts, you can see that this really is a lottery of "chance", but you'll only lose $25.00 if you don't win, so it's up to you! You do get to choose 4 different time slots on the McNeil Alaska lottery application, so you have four chances to win.

Important Dates and Fees: Applications have to be received by March 1 with a $25 non-refundable application fee for each entrant. If you win, fees of $175 for Standby Permits and $350 for Viewing Permits are collected from non-residents of Alaska. Residents have lower fees.

The 4-day time slots for the Viewing Permits start at June 7 and go through August 25; the Standby Permits start June 9 and end August 23. Winner notifications are sent out mid-March and permit payment is due by April 15.

For complete information: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, AK 99518-1599 or call: 907-267-2182.

Print your McNeil Alaska Lottery Application and mail it in, or for more information, contact: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, AK 99518-1599 or call: 907-267-2182.

Denali Park Road Lottery

This one gives people a chance at special privileges in the park immediately after the main tourist season closes in mid-September. The next 4 days are open to Denali road lottery winners, which always starts with the 2nd Friday after Labor Day.

If you win one of these Denali Alaska lottery permits, you will get to spend one full day (6:00AM to Midnight) traveling the Denali Park/Kantishna Road as far as weather conditions allow. During the summer season, only buses are allowed to travel to the end of the road. Private vehicles are limited to the first few miles.

If snow hasn't made the road impassible, you might be able to drive the whole 85 miles to Wonder Lake. But that is not always possible.

Important Dates and Fees: Entries for the Denali Road Lottery can only be submitted between June 1 and June 30. The drawing is in mid-July and letters are mailed to all winners. The good news is, you can transfer your winning ticket if you decide not to use it. All you have to do is give your confirmation letter to someone else.

A non-refundable lottery entry fee of $10 must accompany mailed applications or you can pay online at If you are one of the winners, you'll pay a $25.00 permit fee. The $20.00 per vehicle entrance fee is also charged, unless you have a National Park Pass.

Even though three campgrounds are open, winning the lottery does not guarantee you a campsite in the park. You should reserve those ahead of time by calling 866-761-6629.

To enter the Denali Road Lottery: Put your FULL NAME and ADDRESS, legibly printed on the outside of an envelope. On the back of the envelope, list the four days of the lottery, in the order that you would prefer to win. If you don't list the days, they will list your entry days from first to last. Put a $10 check or US money order inside the envelope and mail to: Denali National Park and Preserve, Road Lottery, P.O. Box 9, Denali, AK 99755.

Call 907-683-2294 for more information on this Alaska lottery.

  • Big Game Hunting Lottery

    There is one Alaska lottery per year for big game hunting permits. The application period is from November 1 through December 31. You MUST have a valid Alaska hunting license before entering this Alaska lottery. (The same application form is used to apply for a hunting OR fishing license.) Here is a hunting lottery application form that you can print and mail in. For further information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at: 907-267-2257

  • Alaska Land Lottery is another type of lottery that helps people get Alaskan properties from the State government but is only open to residents. Non-residents are allowed to purchase left-over parcels from the lottery at the current market value determined by the State.

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