Photo Credit: Alaska Wild Conservation Center

Anchorage Points of Interest

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Points of Interest

Here you’ll find one of the most acces­si­ble wildlife view­ing areas in Alas­ka. The marsh is a rest area for migra­to­ry birds includ­ing trum­peter swans, red­necked grebes, gold­en eyes, and pin­tails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawn­ing in the deep­er water.

Vol­ca­noes not only shaped the face of Alas­ka but also make for spec­tac­u­lar sights. Here are the top vol­ca­noes to look for and pho­to­graph dur­ing your Alas­ka vacation.

Quick: what’s the longest com­bined rail and high­way tun­nel in North Amer­i­ca? It’s the Ander­son Memo­r­i­al Tun­nel, and you’ll dri­ve through it on the scenic and his­toric dri­ve to Whit­ti­er. The Kenai Moun­tains-Tur­na­gain Arm Nation­al Her­itage Area is a place whose val­leys and moun­tains, com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple tell the larg­er sto­ry of a wild place and a rugged fron­tier. This audio guide gives you the inside scoop on its fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry. You’ll…  ...more

The most spec­tac­u­lar and acces­si­ble water­falls around Alas­ka you can see from the road, from a hike, or from a day cruise.

Some­times you just want to be amazed. The over­look at the Glen Alps trail­head of Chugach State Park on the Anchor­age Hill­side offers a grand front-row seat on the forces of geol­o­gy as well as one of the best post­card views any­where. Like — how about a three-vol­cano vista? Or the pro­file of Denali, Forak­er and Hunter in a sin­gle glance? Plate tec­ton­ics at your feet? The sky­line of the biggest city with­in 1,000 miles? 

Spencer Glac­i­er ris­es 3,500 feet in a stun­ning, nat­ur­al ramp from a lake of roy­al-blue ice­bergs in the Chugach Nation­al For­est just 60 miles south of Anchor­age. It’s a fam­i­ly-friend­ly recre­ation des­ti­na­tion fea­tur­ing camp­ing, hik­ing, glac­i­er explo­ration, nature walks, pad­dling and sight­see­ing. Maybe best of all: You have to take a train to get there!

Difficulty: Moderate

Kin­caid Park offers the eas­i­est way to get deep in the woods right in town. It’s a mec­ca for out­door sports of all kinds in a wilder­ness-like set­ting on the site of a for­mer Cold War mis­sile base. This 1,500-acre park sprawls over an ancient and rugged moraine at the south­west tip of the Anchor­age Bowl at the west end of Rasp­ber­ry Road. From its panoram­ic views of Denali and the vast Cook Inlet to its inti­mate deep woods enclaves, the park is  ...more

Update: As of March 27, 2019, this area is now closed. After the Novem­ber 30, 2018 earth­quake, it is a high rock-fall risk area. We’ll keep an eye out for a new great spot to grab fresh Alas­ka water! Dri­ve just a few miles south of Anchor­age, and you can taste the best water that Alas­ka has to offer. No fees, no gim­micks: just a 5‑foot pipe pro­trud­ing from a gran­ite cliff face that gush­es crys­tal clear water capa­ble of caus­ing instant brain  ...more

The main rail­road hub, all trains depart from here. Trav­el north to Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali, and Fair­banks. Or, trav­el south to Gird­wood, Whit­ti­er, Spencer Glac­i­er, and Seward.

When you feel weary of cold sea­son weath­er and yearn for a whiff of sum­mer, you can vis­it Anchorage’s own trop­i­cal green­house almost any day. The Mann Leis­er Memo­r­i­al Green­house in near-east Anchor­age inside Russ­ian Jack Springs Park fea­tures birds, fish and a col­lec­tion of exot­ic plants from around the world. 

How and where to find Alaska’s glac­i­ers — some of the state’s most beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al attractions

To snatch a sense of the state’s only real city, take this quick, two-to-three hour dri­ving tour. It works whether you’re a local res­i­dent with a house full of wired (and maybe jet­lagged!) guests — or a vis­i­tor with a rental car and few hours free to explore. Per­fect for that first after­noon after arrival. 

Alas­ka Wild Berry Prod­ucts has two con­ve­nient loca­tions. One, inside the 5th Avenue Mall in the heart of down­town Anchor­age. The oth­er is just a brief 10-minute dri­ve from down­town. The shop itself fea­tures great Alaskan gifts like Alaskan jel­ly, salmon, meats, and chocolate. 

Crys­tal-clear Willi­waw Creek and its bank-side trail sys­tem in Portage Val­ley at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers excep­tion­al­ly good con­di­tions for watch­ing spawn­ing in action. Coho, sock­eye and chum salmon con­verge on the creek as it winds through the brushy flats begin­ning in mid-August, with some late-arriv­ing fish still present after first frost in the fall.

If you want to mar­vel at the sight of thou­sands of fish school­ing in gigan­tic tanks, take the self-guid­ed tour inside the state fish hatch­ery on the banks of Ship Creek east of down­town. The muse­um-qual­i­ty obser­va­tion deck offers inti­mate views of a com­plex oper­a­tion that pro­duces up to six mil­lion sport fish each year.

More than 1,000 moose live year around inside green­belts and neigh­bor­hoods through­out the Anchor­age Bowl. It’s not unusu­al for cow moose to bed down twin calves in sub­ur­ban back­yards, or for a bull moose with a full rack of antlers to amble straight across busy a boule­vard, halt­ing traf­fic as it passes.

All five species of Pacif­ic salmon con­verge on Anchor­age streams each sum­mer, some­times in spec­tac­u­lar num­bers. And they’re easy to view — whether you seek feisty chi­nooks as long as human’s arm in spring, or dense con­gre­ga­tions of hump­ies dur­ing the sum­mer peak, or the last, lin­ger­ing cohos after the first frost.

How would your kids like to scram­ble up a huge dune of cool, clean sand? Nap in a groove carved by a glac­i­er? Watch scores of salmon spawn? Here are fam­i­ly adven­tures with­in an hour’s dri­ve or less from Anchor­age. They offer amaz­ing sights, fun activ­i­ties ¬— and the option to return home in time for dinner.

A giant sand dune ris­es into the trees of Kin­caid Park near the south­west cor­ner of the Anchor­age Bowl. Its brown face of gor­geous speck­led grains looms more than 40 feet above the sur­round­ing for­est floor, pre­sent­ing a pyra­mid-steep slope that just begs to be climbed. This nat­ur­al fea­ture is a blast for the whole fam­i­ly, per­fect for any­body who has ever delight­ed in a romp at the beach. 

The City of Anchor­age may be largest urban area with­in a thou­sand miles, but it still sup­ports a full menagerie of its orig­i­nal Alas­ka wildlife. Look for moose, eagles, migra­to­ry birds, and more.

A short dri­ve from down­town Anchor­age will land you in the mid­dle of Kin­caid Park, the jump-off point for this mod­er­ate two-mile out and back hike to Anchorage’s only big, sandy beach. If not for the cool Alas­ka temps, it’d be easy to think you were in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The sand is fine and very lit­tle mars its sur­face oth­er than the occa­sion­al piece of drift­wood. Flanked on one side by tall bluffs and on the oth­er by gor­geous views of…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 11 miles

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of four green­belt trails locat­ed in Anchor­age. Even though the trail spans 11.0 miles each way (from Kin­caid Park to just north of where 2nd Avenue ends in the Cook Inlet), it is eas­i­ly picked up from sev­er­al points in the city, so you can enjoy any seg­ment and hike as lit­tle or much of the trail as you desire. In the win­ter, the trail is groomed for cross coun­try skiing.

What ele­ments make a great city? When Anchorage’s fore­fa­thers land­ed at Ship Creek in 1915, those ele­ments were peo­ple, edu­ca­tion, jobs, cul­ture, cap­i­tal invest­ments, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and growth, food pro­duc­tion and sub­sis­tence, wildlife and nat­ur­al beau­ty. So these pio­neers set out to make them all a real­i­ty. Four dis­tinct neigh­bor­hoods arose to meet the call for hous­ing and land man­age­ment offices, as well as school, library, and muse­um facilities.  ...more

Forty min­utes from down­town Anchor­age lies Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, a gate­way to Chugach State Park and a glacial riv­er val­ley as wild and dra­mat­ic as any in Alas­ka. Enjoy an easy, 3‑mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-val­ley 5 miles to see plung­ing water­falls and 3,000-foot cliffs. In win­ter, tra­verse the trails on cross-coun­try skis or snowshoes.

Today, this unique, geo­graph­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ed area is acces­si­ble only by bridge. But it’s worth the effort: you can stand on the very spot where Anchorage’s first neigh­bor­hood began, at the cor­ner of Delaney and West Har­vard streets. From here you can see the Brown’s Point Cot­tages to the west, now list­ed on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. And walk north along West Har­vard Street to see what remains of the old cottages. 

Fairview was built beyond the city bound­ary and became an estab­lished com­mu­ni­ty after World War II. Yet the area main­tained a fierce inde­pen­dence streak. Those who lived here hoped to avoid bureau­crat­ic over­sight and tax­a­tion, and even had their own pub­lic util­i­ty dis­trict. It was the only neigh­bor­hood that African-Amer­i­cans could buy prop­er­ty in. And when Anchor­age tried to annex the area in the 1950s, locals fought back, in a law­suit that  ...more

This neigh­bor­hood was cre­at­ed in the late 1930’s and ear­ly 1940’s in response to the wartime build-up and ongo­ing need for hous­ing. To encour­age farm­ing, many lots were larg­er here than in Down­town or Gov­ern­ment Hill. 

A stretch of exposed bedrock south­east of Anchor­age along Tur­na­gain Arm was gouged and pol­ished by mile-thick glac­i­ers dur­ing the last ice age. The grooves appear as smooth chan­nels carved into the rock itself by almost unimag­in­able forces. Some are sub­tle, like rip­ples, and hard to see. Oth­ers are large enough to lie inside on a sun­ny afternoon.

For glimpses of the big Chi­nook salmon right inside the city’s indus­tri­al heart, check out the hatch­ery-seed­ed run at Ship Creek between late May into June. Hatch­ery-seed­ed coho salmon begin run­ning through the same waters in late July through August.

When was the last time you went to your local hos­pi­tal for art­work? At the Alas­ka Native Med­ical Cen­ter you can find gor­geous arts and crafts by Native Alaskan artists on every floor. 

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of Anchorage’s great­est assets, pro­vid­ing exer­cise oppor­tu­ni­ties cou­pled with spec­tac­u­lar views. But most peo­ple who come here don’t embrace the easy access to the coast — and it’s sim­ple to fol­low one of the many side trails down to the beach where miles of sand are avail­able for walk­ing, pic­nics, and watch­ing the sum­mer sun set over The Sleep­ing Lady. Where To Go The eas­i­est access points to the…  ...more

In 1984 when the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter was being built plans were includ­ed for Town Square. In the sum­mer it is a good spot to sit and take a break. In the win­ter, the trees are strung with christ­mas lights and an ice skat­ing rink is cre­at­ed at the cen­ter of the park.

Eagle Riv­er camp­ground is con­ve­nient and mod­ern. Right beside it are also class IV rapids. Kayak­ers and rafters call them Camp­ground Rapids. But near­by are a cou­ple of places not nor­mal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with camp­ing. Do you like ghost sto­ries? Do you have some trash pil­ing up in the back of your truck? Maybe you should stop in and have a look. But don’t say we did­n’t warn you!

This is Anchorage’s old­est neigh­bor­hood — and also one of its most charm­ing, thanks to its mix of quin­tes­sen­tial, salt­box-style archi­tec­ture, a few mil­i­tary Quon­set huts, and a selec­tion of mod­ern designs.

A short dri­ve from 5th Ave, you’ll find this great dis­play of Anchorage’s nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment, which coex­ists along­side the indus­tri­al port and rail areas that sup­ply much of south­cen­tral Alas­ka. There are hard­ly ever any peo­ple here, mak­ing this a great place, close to down­town, to get a moment of solitude.

Giv­en its vast size and rugged ter­rain, it’s log­i­cal that Alas­ka has had a long love affair — and even depen­dence — on avi­a­tion. It was July 4, 1913, that the first flight took place in Alas­ka, and today there are more planes here, per per­son, than any­where else in the world.

This is one spot you don’t want to miss. July through Sep­tem­ber you’ll wit­ness a spec­tac­u­lar run of Sil­ver Salmon. Fish­er­men from all over the world come into Alas­ka to cast a line here. There will be hun­dreds of peo­ple com­ing and going from Bird Creek on any giv­en day. In their hands will be the days boun­ty; a nice big sil­ver salmon that is deli­cious when smoked and even bet­ter when grilled and coat­ed with lemon and a hon­ey mus­tard glaze.…  ...more

This is a pop­u­lar stop as you trav­el the Seward High­way. Here you’ll find 180 degree views of Tur­na­gain Arm with spot­ting scopes and inter­pre­tive signs. Look for bel­u­ga whales rolling in the surf, often seen from mid-July to August fol­low­ing the salmon run. And, try and catch the bore tide, and incom­ing tide that stretch­es the entire width of Tur­na­gain Arm and can be up to six feet high.

Difficulty: Easy

This 191.7‑acre Anchor­age park, which was cre­at­ed in 1994 as Munic­i­pal ded­i­cat­ed park­land, is high­ly val­ued for its wildlife habi­tat, coastal tide­lands and recre­ation­al val­ue. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail runs through it and the area has spec­tac­u­lar views of the inlet and sur­round­ing moun­tain ranges. You can spot whales in the inlet and watch the jets land and take off from the Ted Stevens Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. Point Woron­zof got its name…  ...more

Portage Val­ley south­east of Anchor­age at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers so many poten­tial adven­tures that you might have to tow a trail­er loaded with gear to sam­ple them all. What will you find here? Bik­ing, hik­ing, pic­nick­ing, fish­ing, pad­dling, wildlife view­ing, poten­tial ice­berg sight­ings — plus a nat­ur­al his­to­ry vis­i­tor cen­ter packed with inter­ac­tive dis­plays about the ecosys­tem of the val­ley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor  ...more

Anchor­age, Alaska’s cen­ter of com­merce, is the present day head­quar­ters for the Alas­ka Rail­road. The Rail­road was grant­ed the land by the US Con­gress and sold off most of the prop­er­ty in a land auc­tion in 1917. Today, the Rail­road has some 600 acres of land reserves remain­ing in the down­town area of the city. The City of Anchor­age exists because of the Railroad.

The Unit­ed States Con­gress want­ed to open the Ter­ri­to­ry of Alas­ka for eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and rec­og­nized the only way that was going to occur was to con­struct a rail line. Pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies attempt­ed to build a rail line but went bank­rupt ear­ly in the process. There­fore, Con­gress adopt­ed the Enabling Act of 1914 which autho­rized the Pres­i­dent of Unit­ed States to locate, con­struct and oper­ate a 1,000 mile rail line in the Territory.

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