Things to Do in Anchorage

The Best Things to Do in Anchorage

Anchorage is an urban city with easy access to magnificent scenery, adventurous activities, cultural demonstrations and wildlife viewing. Within an hour or two from town you could be kayaking among icebergs, watching brown bears in the wild, or hiking through a rainforest or alpine meadow. Get the most fun out of your time in Anchorage with our list of the top ten activities/day trips.

01

Day Cruise in Whittier

Day Cruise in Whittier

Glaciers, marine wildlife, coastal scenery, salmon-viewing, rail tour

Awe-inspiring tidewater glaciers meet the waters of Prince William Sound, and hanging glaciers nestle in the towering peaks. See it all on an afternoon cruise leaving from the small town of Whittier, just an hour and 15 minutes south of Anchorage. Seals, sea otters, sea birds, and even whales can be spotted here, too. For the most relaxing trip, take the morning train from downtown Anchorage through scenic landscapes and into Whittier in plenty of time for your cruise. You’ll arrive back in Anchorage well after dinner, but you’ll enjoy a meal on the cruise and can buy snacks on the train.

If you have a car, leave Anchorage early to give lots of time for stopping to photograph the dramatic scenery of Turnagain Arm and Portage Glacier Road (towering mountains, cliffs, Dall sheep, glaciers, and salmon in mid-July to late-August). You can also visit the Begich Boggs Visitor Center to learn about the glaciers, wildlife, climate, geography and people of the Chugach National Forest and Prince William Sound. Drive through the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to get to Whittier. The one-way tunnel is shared by cars and trains, with specific times for travel in each direction, so check the schedule carefully.

Transportation: Car or train
Activity level: Mild
Weather: Beautiful rain or shine. The blue of the glaciers really pops on overcast days.
Tip: Book cruise in advance

02

Drive to the Matanuska Glacier

Drive to the Matanuska Glacier

Scenic driving, glacier, ice climbing, rafting, ziplining

Just 2.5 hours from Anchorage, the 4-mile-wide face of the great Matanuska Glacier invites you to a day full of adventure – climbing the ice, rafting the river, or flying through the air on Alaska’s fastest zip line. Drive along the scenic Glenn Highway from Anchorage to Mile 101, where you can stretch your legs and take photos at the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site. The quiet one-mile Edge Nature Trail winds through a boreal forest, leading to viewing platforms. You’ll find food and another view at a nearby lodge/restaurant (Mile 102.2). At Mile 102, take a privately-owned access road closer to the glacier for $30/person. At this point you can explore on your own, although if you do not have experience on the ice, you really need a guide.

For a full day of highly-recommended adventuring, choose from several guided activities that don’t require previous glacier experience. Some can even be done with young children. Raft along the Matanuska River, take a guided trek on the glacier for a close-up view of fissures, pools and rivers on the icy surface, climb a vertical wall of ice, or drive a rough and ready ATV on wooded trails overlooking the glacier valley!

Transportation: Car
Activity level: Mild to Wild
Weather: Glacier activities are all-weather. There’s no accurate forecast, as the glacier and surrounding peaks create a weather hole (often resulting in more favorable weather than surrounding areas). It is 5-10 degrees cooler at the glacier, so layer up and bring rain gear.
Tip: Book activities in advance; bring $5 for parking at the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site

03

Fly-In Bear Viewing

Fly-In Bear Viewing

Scenic flight, bears

This is one of the wildest, most amazing day trips you can take from Anchorage. You’ll fly out of the city and across Cook Inlet to areas where huge brown bears congregate to fatten up for winter on Alaska’s wild and robust salmon runs. They are so focused on this task that they pay humans no mind. Watch them fish, play, and train cubs in their natural wild habitat, and be back in time for a nice dinner out in Anchorage! The thrilling day begins and ends with a scenic flight on a classic Alaska float plane or wheeled plane. You’ll fly to either Lake Clark National Park or Katmai National Park, with views of braided rivers, glaciers, volcanoes and possible wildlife such as beluga whales, moose and Dall sheep. Tours start around $700 per person, which may seem high until you consider the 2-6 hour flightseeing experience and hours of bear viewing included in the cost.

Choose Katmai in July if you want to visit Brooks Falls and capture an iconic photo of salmon jumping right into a brown bear’s gaping jaws. This is a wildly popular spot, where you can see dozens of bears within a 1.5-mile stretch of the Brooks River. Platforms have been developed above the falls to help everyone get a great view. Between May and September, you can watch coastal brown bears in Lake Clark National Park. Your guide will take you and a small group where the bears are most active, with tour options for hiking along the flats, travel by 4WD vehicle, or viewing from a covered boat.

Transportation: Float plane or small wheeled plane
Activity level: Moderate (walking)
Weather: Rain or shine, but flights can be delayed or cancelled due to weather.
Tip: For best availability, book in advance

04

Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive

Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive

Hiking, history, berry picking

A summer day in Hatcher Pass mixes spectacular scenery, history, and easy to moderate hiking. An 80-minute drive northeast of Anchorage brings you past farms of the Mat-Su Valley and the picturesque Little Su River to a scenic pass high in the mountains where you can tour the remains of the 1940s-era Independence Mine and hike through tundra to a crystal clear alpine lake. The views as you drive up to 3,800 feet are worth the trip even if you are not a hiker. Hatcher Pass is also quite a draw in winter for mountain skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.

This is a great trip for those on a budget, since your only expense is a $5 parking fee. And it’s perfect for families, since trails and tundra hiking are accessible and fun for the kids. Hatcher Pass remains snowy for much of the year, so you have a good chance of hiking to snow even in the height of summer. Exploring trails offers a different experience at each elevation: spongy tundra and alpine lakes further up, spans of colorful wildflowers and waterfalls at subalpine elevations, and lush foliage along a glacial valley at the base of the mountain. Be sure to bring water, a lunch, and warm layers to be prepared for cooler weather. In addition to perfect views, you may also spot paragliders, who regularly launch from the mountain slopes on clear days. For wildlife, you’ll see birds, and possibly ground squirrels, marmots and beavers.

Transportation: Car
Activity level: Mild to strenuous (walking/hiking)
Weather: Check operating hours for Independence Mine Visitor Center; bring $5 for parking, bring a bucket for berries in late summer/early fall

05

Fly-in fishing

Fly-in fishing

Scenic views, remote river/lake fishing, tasty souvenir

Fly-in fishing, which combines a scenic flight with fishing for trout or salmon, is a perfectly Alaskan experience. Soar above the Anchorage bowl toward the Matanuska Valley and touch down 20 minutes later in a prime fishing spot in Alaska’s remote backcountry. Spend the day with your line in the water, fishing in beautiful creeks and lakes off the road system. It’s more secluded than roadside fishing options from Anchorage, which can get fairly crowded during the season. You’ll fish from a boat or from the shore, all geared up in iconic hip-waders.

And you don’t have to be an expert to take advantage of the fun. There are guided options, complete with all your tackle and fishing gear (including boots). Or you can bring your own for a do-it-yourself trip. It can be surprisingly affordable, starting at $300 per person for the flight and an unguided day on the water. Expect to pay $600 or more for a day trip with a guide steering you to the best spots for whatever fish is in season. Depending on the time of year, you might land a giant King salmon, a feisty Silver, or a succulent Red. There are also great nearby spots for Northern Pike, Grayling, Rainbow Trout and Arctic Char.

The day ends as it began, with a flight back to Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base and a shuttle back to your hotel. Your charter company can arrange to process your fish to send back home for a tasty reminder of a 100% pure Alaskan adventure.

Transportation: Float plane
Activity level: Mild to moderate (walking)
Weather: Fish are biting rain or shine
Tip: Book in advance; get your fishing license online or in Anchorage

06

Train Ride and Rafting or Kayaking at Spencer Glacier

Train Ride and Rafting or Kayaking at Spencer Glacier

Glacier, on the water, coastal scenery, wildlife

Ancient ice beckons, just 60 miles from Anchorage, at Spencer Glacier and its namesake lake, which is dotted with icebergs of all sizes. See it, touch it… even taste it, as you get up close in a kayak, canoe or on a raft. This peaceful area is off the road-system, promising a wild and remote feel even though you can get there easily by train.

The day starts on the Alaska Railroad, with a scenic journey along Turnagain Arm and into Portage Valley, where hanging glaciers grace the mountain peaks. Disembark at the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, where your guides will suit you up for a mild float on Spencer Lake and the nearby Placer River. Or hop in a kayak and paddle serenely past icebergs up to the toe of the glacier. Strap on a helmet and crampons for a close-up view of ice caves, crevasses, and blue ice.

Choose a guided or self-guided hike if you’d rather explore the area on foot. An easy 1.3-mile gravel trail leads from the Whistle Stop to the Spencer Lake Viewing Platform. From there, you can walk another 1.7 miles along the lake toward the glacier terminus. The trail doesn’t quite reach to the glacier since it has been retreating, so you’ll want to kayak or raft to get closer.

Transportation: Train or car/train
Activity level: Mild to strenuous
Weather: Beautiful rain or shine, just wear proper clothing. Guides provide a poncho in rain.
Tip: Book rafting/kayaking when you book rail

07 Talkeetna & Denali Flightseeing

Talkeetna & Denali Flightseeing

Talkeetna & Denali Flightseeing

Scenic flight, glacier landing, quaint town, mountaineering hot spot

Don’t have time to drive all the way to Denali National Park? Talkeetna is the perfect day trip for experiencing small town Alaska and getting close to Denali in just a few hours (3 hours by train, 2.5 by car). Charming and historic, Talkeetna is 14 miles off the beaten path, at the confluence of three rivers. It’s the jumping off point for mountaineers with the highest aspirations – to summit Denali, the tallest peak in North America (20,310 feet). It’s also a hot-spot for more down-to-earth adventuring, like river rafting on a glacial river, hiking, or ziplining through a boreal forest.

The most popular attraction is flightseeing near the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range, including Denali. Soar above ice falls, blue meltwater pools, crevasses, and glaciers that go on for miles. Helicopter or bush plane tours last 1-2 hours each, with many variations: fly above the Denali summit, land on a glacier, or fly into Denali National Park, land on a lake and go hiking!

In town, the small historical museum has exhibits on Talkeetna’s early years, the railroad and what it’s like to climb Denali. Check out the gift shops, galleries, or open-air market (Sat-Mon) before finding a pizza, burger or even Thai food. There’s even a local craft brewery! Walk to the waterfront just a few minutes from town and get a peek at the mighty Susitna River before heading back to Anchorage.

Transportation: Car or train to Talkeetna
Activity level: Mild
Weather: Flights can be delayed or cancelled due to weather. Overcast days can sock in the peaks, but the scenery below is still epic. If you get a clear day, go for it!
Tip: For best availability book train and flightseeing tour in advance

08

Anchorage History & Culture

Anchorage History & Culture

Anchorage sights, Native dancing, Alaska art and history

Spend a full day immersed in Alaska art, history and culture, and learn about Anchorage too. Start out at the must-see Alaska Native Heritage Center, located in a beautiful area on the northeast edge of town. A free hourly shuttle leaves from the Anchorage Museum, Visit Anchorage, the Captain Cook or the Sheraton. Learn about Alaska’s five major Native cultures through art, short films, and demonstrations of Native dancing and games. Outside, take a guided or self-guided tour through a wooded area around Lake Tiulana. The path winds past six authentic life-size Native dwellings illustrating how Native people lived in different parts of Alaska – from the longhouses of the coastal peoples to underground houses entered from ladders or tunnels.

Back downtown at the Anchorage Museum, you’ll find world-class exhibits and an interactive Discovery Center especially fun for the kids. Save time for the third floor, where 600+ indigenous Alaska artifacts are on loan from the Smithsonian. Special activities include films at the planetarium and science labs at the Discovery Center. Finish up your visit with a meal at the on-site restaurant or one of several nearby before walking about six blocks to the Log Cabin Visitor Center to catch the Anchorage Trolley tour.

For Anchorage-specific history, there’s no better ride than this 1-hour tour. Drivers share fun facts and stories about Anchorage’s 100+ year history while covering 15 miles – from Anchorage’s historic neighborhoods to Earthquake Park and the seaplanes of Lake Hood.

Transportation: Trolley, Shuttle, car
Activity level: Mild
Weather: Informative everyday; perfect choice on a rainy day
Tip: The Alaska Culture Pass gets you into the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center at a discount.

09

Turnagain Arm & Girdwood

Turnagain Arm & Girdwood

Coastal views, wildlife, hiking, biking, charming resort town, temperate rainforest, Iditarod trail

45 minutes south of Anchorage, Girdwood is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, who enjoy its trails and slopes year round. The easy Winner Creek Trail, starting at Alyeska Resort, is a popular choice that winds through lush rainforest and past lively creeks. It leads to a unique hand tram over a deep gorge and connects with the historic Iditarod Trail. Or head uphill from Alyeska on a 7-minute tram for spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and hanging glaciers, as well as casual and gourmet mountain-top dining. Rent a mountain bike for an adventurous ride back down!

The journey to and from Girdwood takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery anywhere. The highway winds along, sandwiched between the 3,000-foot mountains of Chugach State Park and the ever-changing Turnagain Arm, whose mud flats stretch up to 4 miles. At Beluga Point (Mile 110.5), especially from mid-July through August, watch for Cook Inlet belugas as they chase salmon at high tide. At Windy Corner (Mile 106), spot Dall sheep on the cliffs along the mountainside. From Mile 115.1 to Mile 100.5, several trailheads offer access to a network of trails, many with gorgeous views overlooking Turnagain Arm. Climb high into alpine tundra, to waterfalls and lakes, or through old-growth forests leading to wildflower-laden valleys.

Transportation: Car or train
Activity level: Mild to strenuous
Weather: Beautiful in light rain or shine, views are better from the tram on a clear day
Tip: Check the schedule. Girdwood throws a great summer party, from the Forest Fair to the Blueberry Festival and the Fungus Fair.

10

Anchorage Outdoors

Anchorage Outdoors

Stunning views, wildlife, hiking, biking, berry picking

Anchorage may be an urban city of 300,000, but it boasts some of the best parkland and recreational opportunities in the country, ranging from the sea-level Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to the 3,500-ft high Flattop Mountain. The paved coastal trail starts in downtown Anchorage and runs 11 miles out to Kincaid Park. It’s easy to rent a bike downtown and hop on the trail, enjoying sweeping views of the mudflats, Cook Inlet, and Sleeping Lady (even Denali on a clear day). Once you’ve gone a few miles, stop to look back for a great shot of the Anchorage skyline. Chances of seeing moose are very good along this trail, especially as you get closer to Kincaid Park.

For a different perspective of Anchorage, drive just 20 minutes to the Glen Alps parking lot, where you will find a number of trails in Chugach State Park, including one that takes you to the top of Flattop. It’s typically windy there, which will be refreshing after the hike up! If you don’t want climb that far, the 1.5-mile Blueberry Loop trail still affords a great view and is a little less demanding. An even shorter trail from the parking lot to an overlook ensures a beautiful view of the Anchorage bowl. Don’t have a car? A shuttle service from downtown gets you there for $23 round-trip.

Transportation: Car or bicycle
Activity level: Mild to strenuous
Weather: Best on a sunny day, but light rain won’t hurt; temps are much cooler on Flattop
Tip: Get an early start; pack plenty of water and a lunch; bring $5 for parking at Flattop

Anchorage Day Tours & Attractions View All

Season: May 06 to Sep 30 $100+ | Sundays Only 3.5 hrs

Rid­ing Alas­ka ATV Tours show­case the won­ders of the glacial­ly-fed Eklut­na Lake area, a local favorite hid­den away just out­side Anchor­age. Bring the fam­i­ly for a ful­ly-guid­ed ride along the lake and beyond – across grav­el moraines, over rush­ing rivers and through wood­lands, to with­in sight of Eklut­na glac­i­er itself. Sit back and relax while your dri­ver does all the work! Keep a look out: the peace­ful land­scape is alive with wildlife, including  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 17 $69 to $139

The train can be used as a mode of trans­porta­tion, how­ev­er it can also be a round-trip sight­see­ing excur­sion. This pri­ma­ry des­ti­na­tion is the town of Whit­ti­er, a major cruise ship and after­noon day cruise hub. Day Trips from Anchor­age: Whit­ti­er, Gird­wood, Spencer Glac­i­er, Grandview

Season: Year Round $235+ per person 1-5 hrs

Take a tour of Denali or to a near­by glac­i­er with expe­ri­enced pilots who are well-versed in all things Alas­ka — from the ter­rain to the his­to­ry and wildlife — and who love to enter­tain guests

Season: May 15 to Sep 04 $15 1.5 hrs

Step into the under­world of Anchor­age — a hid­den gath­er­ing of ghosts and spir­its — on this walk­ing tour through some of the city’s most haunt­ed sites. It’s the most unsu­al per­spec­tive you can get of Alaska’s largest metropolis. 

Season: Dec 01 to Apr 20 $255+ 5-6 hours (day trip) or 4-10 days (multi-day)

Explore Alaska’s back­coun­try astride a speedy and fun snow­ma­chine. Alas­ka Wild Guides will take you out for one thrilling day, or for sev­er­al days of exhil­a­rat­ing adven­ture. Find hid­den ice caves and remote glac­i­ers while nav­i­gat­ing along frozen rivers and through deep powder.

Season: Year Round $575 full day fishing, $1200+ all-inclusive multi-day packages 8 hrs - Multi-Days

The North­woods Lodge is a remote lodge where vis­i­tors can find them­selves in a 45 minute flight from Anchor­age. The lodge spe­cial­izes in guid­ed fish­ing, and guests can enjoy 8 to 10 hours of fish­ing a day if they choose. Guides help you spin or fly fish for tro­phy king salmon, sil­ver and sock­eye salmon, or res­i­dent rain­bow trout, arc­tic grayling and north­ern pike

$795+ 6.5 to 10 hrs

Hop aboard one of Regal Air’s planes depart­ing from Anchor­age and after a short, scenic flight you can be watch­ing enor­mous brown bears swat salmon from Alaska’s rush­ing waters. Tours vis­it one of two des­ti­na­tions: Lake Clark Nation­al Park or Brooks Falls in Kat­mai Nation­al Park.

This mine played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the ear­ly set­tling of the Tur­na­gain Arm. The build­ing here are on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of his­toric places and the mine is unique because of its asso­ci­a­tion with load min­ing. Indi­an Val­ley Mine was found­ed in 1910 by a vagabond who ran away from home at the age of 12, joined the cir­cus and then final­ly trav­eled to Alas­ka dur­ing the gold rush. The Cowles fam­i­ly will tell you all about the his­to­ry of this…  ...more

$340+ per driver 4 hours

Tour­ing the spec­tac­u­lar tide­wa­ter glac­i­ers of Prince William Sound is even more excit­ing when you do it on a Jet Ski. Go with Alas­ka Wild Guides out of Whit­ti­er to expe­ri­ence the area’s unique sights and sounds while skim­ming across the top of the water on your own per­son­al watercraft.

$695 per person 4 hrs

Rid­ing a horse through the Alaskan tun­dra while gaz­ing out at stun­ning moun­tain views: This mag­i­cal expe­ri­ence is almost like trav­el­ing back through time, to a sim­pler era. And it’s super-easy when you go with Alas­ka By Air.

Season: Nov 01 to Mar 28 $115+ 4 hrs - multi-day packages

Won­der­ing how folks up here deal with Alaska’s long win­ter days? It’s easy when the inky night sky comes alive with an amaz­ing light show like the auro­ra bore­alis. Brav­ing the cold is noth­ing if you get a chance to see the lights danc­ing and wav­ing over­head. Com­bine your auro­ra view­ing trip with a few oth­er high­lights planned out by Salmon Berry Tours, and you’ll expe­ri­ence the best of win­ter in Alaska.

Season: Year Round $109+ 4 - 11 hrs

If you’re a beer snob — or just like soak­ing up the per­son­al­i­ty of a city through its brew­pubs — this cre­ative tour com­pa­ny offers a few dif­fer­ent tours, each of which pro­vide an inter­est­ing look at life in Alas­ka, as well as through a taste of the state’s legit craft beer indus­try. The Anchor­age Brews Tour, is a short, 3.5 hour local brew­ery tour. Hops on the Rail tour com­bines brew­eries between Anchor­age and Tal­keet­na with a ride on The Alaska  ...more

Season: Year Round $125+ 30 min to 3 hrs

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Alaska’s scenic high­lights on a flight­see­ing tour with Rust’s Fly­ing Ser­vice, where every pas­sen­ger gets a win­dow seat. Tour options include a short 30-minute Anchor­age Flight­see­ing Safari, a flight to Denali, Denali plus a glac­i­er land­ing, and more. Tours begin at Anchorage’s Lake Hood, the world’s busiest sea­plane airport.

Season: May 14 to Sep 20 $66 to $395

This train trav­els through the forest­ed areas north of Anchor­age into the bore­al for­est, and even­tu­al­ly into the tun­dra regions fur­ther north. On a clear day the train will slow down to allow you to see beau­ti­ful vis­tas of Denali. You may also spot wildlife along the way. Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na Day Trip from Fair­banks: Denali Mul­ti-Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na, Denali Nation­al Park, and / or Fair­banks Mul­ti-Day Trip  ...more

$875+ per person 6-9 hrs

Take off on a spec­tac­u­lar flight, look­ing down on the vast Alaskan tun­dra as you make your way to one of three bear-view­ing spots, depend­ing on where you’ll see the most bears. Wit­ness these icon­ic crea­tures play­ing or fish­ing as you take pic­tures and learn more about their habits and habitat.

Season: Year Round $799+ per person 6 - 36 hrs

Take off in a heli­copter for the thrilling expe­ri­ence of heli-flight­see­ing, land­ing on a glac­i­er, don­ning cram­pons and a hel­met to explore blue ice with world-class guides. Expe­ri­ence crevass­es, blue pools and ice caves up close or try ice climb­ing to get ver­ti­cal. Offer­ing fam­i­ly friend­ly mem­o­ries of a lifetime!

Season: May 09 to Sep 21 $86 to $371

The Coastal Clas­sic train runs between Anchor­age and the town of Seward — a four-hour trip that’s the most beau­ti­ful along the entire Alas­ka Rail­road. You’ll see Tur­na­gain Arm as the train departs Anchor­age, then a panora­ma of moun­tains, glac­i­ers, lakes, and streams. You may even see wildlife like Dall sheep, Bel­u­ga whales, moose, bear, and more! Day Trip from Anchor­age: Seward, Gird­wood Mul­ti-Day Trip from Anchor­age: Overnight Seward, or  ...more

Season: Year Round $1500 per person 6hrs+

Trygg Air offers day trips for wal­rus view­ing from Anchor­age as well as King Salmon, in South­west Alas­ka. Fly to King Salmon com­mer­cial­ly from Anchor­age, and then meet Trygg Air for a 90-minute scenic jour­ney along the west side of the Alas­ka Penin­su­la to Cape Seni­avin to view these 4,000 pound ani­mals that haul out on the beach. Trygg can also fly you out to two oth­er icon­ic places: Brooks Falls, to see griz­zly bears swat­ting at salmon; and the  ...more

Season: Year Round $69+ 3 - 36 hrs

Walk in the wild places of Alas­ka with world-class guides who will reveal the won­ders of our local lakes, glac­i­ers, alpine moun­tains, rain­forests or the far back­coun­try. Trust­ed by locals, Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­ers, and even the White House, Ascend­ing Path guides you expert­ly to select areas just min­utes from Anchorage.

$45+ 1 hr

Just an hour’s dri­ve from Anchor­age, the MV Ptarmi­gan let you get with­in 300 feet of the tow­er­ing ice wall called Portage Glac­i­er. You can also book a nar­rat­ed motor­coach tour to take you to Portage Glacier. 

Season: Mar 07 to Oct 11 $89+ 3.5 hrs - Full Day

Res­ur­rec­tion Bay and Kenai Fjords are great places to see wildlife and glac­i­ers. And Major Marine’s ves­sels, which have cozy heat­ed cab­ins and an out­door view­ing area, can take you out to see both. This fam­i­ly-owned tour oper­a­tor has gone above and beyond to give guests an amaz­ing day on the water since 1990

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $600 8 - 10 hrs

Take a fly-in salmon or trout-fish­ing trip out of Anchor­age with Regal Air to enjoy world-class fish­ing in pris­tine, remote rivers. Regal Air teams up with wilder­ness lodges and guid­ing ser­vices and can set you up with any­thing from lunch to gear. They’ll even teach you how to cast. You’ll get the ulti­mate Alas­ka fly­ing expe­ri­ence, tak­ing off and land­ing in a float plane, and soar­ing over big, braid­ed glac­i­er riv­er val­leys and end­less forests.  ...more

Season: May 01 to Aug 31 $549 2 hrs

Ratch­et up the adven­ture fac­tor and try your hand at dogsled­ding. Alpine Air Alas­ka flies to a dog camp run by the old­est estab­lished dog-sled tour busi­ness in Alas­ka. You’ll trav­el by heli­copter from Girdwood’s green forests up over a small sad­dle to land on a glac­i­er and be intro­duced to the dog team. You’ll get to stand on the sled run­ners and dri­ve” the dogs your­self, or sit in the sled and sur­vey the hang­ing glac­i­ers that sur­round you.  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

Rent a moun­tain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some cram­pons and go trekking on a glacier. 

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 30 $175+ 1-5 hours

Trail Ridge Air offers an on-demand per­spec­tive of Alaska’s wilder­ness, with per­son­able and knowl­edge­able pilots. Watch for wildlife, check out mas­sive glac­i­ers, alpine lakes, Denali, or even Lake Clark Nation­al Park. Trail Ridge accom­mo­dates for the busiest of sched­ules, with flights rang­ing from one hour to a full day.

Season: Jun 05 to Sep 07 $105+ 5 to 8.5 hrs

This vet­er­an tour oper­a­tor runs a a fleet of fast, mod­ern boats in Res­ur­rec­tion Bay and Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park. You’ll vis­it tide­wa­ter glac­i­ers as you watch for puffins, sea otters, Dall’s por­pois­es, sea lions, and more. Some tours are designed to please bird­ers or shut­ter­bugs, while oth­ers are per­fect for families. 

Season: Year Round $299+ 30 - 90 min

There are few things more spec­tac­u­lar than lift­ing off in a heli­copter and soar­ing over Alaska’s glac­i­er-filled ter­rain or out across its shim­mer­ing waters. Suit­able for all ages. Get a taste for heli­copter flight­see­ing on a 30-minute trip into the 20-Mile riv­er val­ley and the heart of glac­i­er country.

Season: Jun 06 to Sep 15 $349+

Enjoy a mag­i­cal morn­ing or evening kayak­ing the calm waters of Spencer Lake, in the awe-inspir­ing pres­ence of a jagged ter­mi­nus glac­i­er. Your time on the water is sand­wiched between two train rides that offer up some of Alaska’s most scenic rail miles. It’s a full day of unfor­get­table expe­ri­ences in our country’s sec­ond largest nation­al for­est – the Chugach.

Season: Year Round $100

Go fish­ing right in Anchor­age – whether you have only have a few hours or a full day. Rent a gear pack­age and fish on your own. Or, hire one of our local guides to take you on a guid­ed tour to land your dream catch. You can also buy bait and fish­ing licenses.

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 18 $895 Day Trip | $1203+ all-inclusive packages Day trip & multi-day excursions

Brooks Lodge offers their own bear view­ing tours which are less expen­sive than most, and give you more time at Kat­mai Nation­al Park to watch bears feast­ing on sock­eye salmon from sev­er­al view­ing plat­forms. A com­mer­cial flight from Anchor­age takes you to King Salmon where you’ll switch to a small float plane for a quick 20-minute flight to Brooks Camp. After a brief safe­ty ori­en­ta­tion, you can watch bears from sev­er­al view­ing plat­forms, join the  ...more

Season: Year Round $35

Every now and then in Alas­ka — where the weath­er can change quick­ly — a great indoor activ­i­ty comes in handy. But this unique year-round attrac­tion, where a fam­i­ly or a group of friends solves a mys­tery while locked” indoors, makes a fun diver­sion even when the skies are clear outside.

Season: May 23 to Sep 16 $339+ 8 - 36 hrs

Ride the rails, sea kayak through an ice­berg-strewn lake and hike off-the-beat­en-path towards the face of Spencer glac­i­er, all in one trip! Local­ly-owned Ascend­ing Path designed this awe-inspir­ing out­ing, pack­ing sev­er­al excit­ing ele­ments into one sat­is­fy­ing day. Trust­ed by locals and Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­ers alike, Ascend­ing Path will take you on an unfor­get­table Alaskan adventure.

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

$340 4.5 hrs

Faster than a kayak and more inti­mate than a day cruise, the Jet Ski is a great way to get up close and per­son­al with Alaska’s gor­geous scenery. Go with Whit­ti­er-based Glac­i­er Jet Ski Adven­tures and you’ll be tak­ing your machine out on the water to explore the stun­ning glac­i­ers and wildlife of Black­stone Bay. All equip­ment is pro­vid­ed and no expe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary on this unique 4.5‑hour journey.

$299+ 8 - 9 hrs

Every­body loves sled dogs, and Salmon Berry Tours offers you the chance to get behind the sled year-round. In sum­mer and win­ter, you’ll head to the ken­nel of Idi­tar­od Cham­pi­on Dal­las Seavey, where you’ll see a gear demon­stra­tion, meet the dogs, and ride on the sled behind them. They also have a mul­ti-day adven­ture for Idi­tar­od enthusiasts. 

Season: May 16 to Sep 20 $795+ 6 - 10 hrs

Take off by sea­plane for an all-day bear-view­ing expe­di­tion. Fly past glac­i­ers and vol­ca­noes to the brown-bear coun­try of south­west Alas­ka. Your Sea­plane Bear Safari will take you to Brooks Riv­er Falls in Kat­mai Nation­al Park, home of the world ’ s largest salmon run. You can also fly 70 miles south­west of Anchor­age to Lake Clark Wilder­ness Pre­serve for amaz­ing bear view­ing and lux­u­ri­ous accom­mo­da­tions at the Redoubt Bay Lodge. Rust’s, which has  ...more

Season: Year Round $169

Join Alas­ka Pho­to Treks as they go hunt­ing for the best light of the day, which dur­ing sum­mer at this lat­i­tude can last for sev­er­al glo­ri­ous hours before sun­set. You’ll be trans­port­ed to scenic loca­tions around South­cen­tral Alas­ka to shoot a vari­ety of enchant­i­ng sub­jects. The itin­er­ary is flex­i­ble and allows for spon­ta­neous stops to pho­to­graph wildlife en route. 

Season: Jun 01 to Aug 31 $2195+ All-inclusive, multi-day Adventures

Alas­ka bear camp is mag­i­cal­ly hid­den in a rare Crit­i­cal Bear Habi­tat in the wilder­ness of Lake Clark Nation­al Park. Instead of hun­dreds, only 16 priv­i­leged guests observe the won­der of up to 50 brown Bears liv­ing out their dai­ly dra­ma. Due to the beau­ty of the loca­tion and the excep­tion­al bear pop­u­la­tion, the deluxe camp, with en suite biffies, beds with mat­tress­es and food flown in dai­ly, was used as a base camp for the Dis­ney movie Bears.  ...more

$550+ fly-in fishing day trip, $1,248+ overnight all-inclusive 1 - 6+ Nights

Explor­ing Alaska’s back­coun­try lakes, forests and rivers is a phe­nom­e­nal expe­ri­ence. Wilder­ness Place Lodge — tucked away on a remote riv­er north­west of Anchor­age — offers excel­lent access to near­ly any fresh­wa­ter fish you came to Alas­ka for, along with a unique eco-trav­el expe­ri­ence that comes with a high lev­el of ser­vice, a vari­ety of non-fish­ing activ­i­ties and the mel­low free­dom to cre­ate an Alaskan expe­ri­ence that suits your own taste.

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $10+

Crow Creek Mine has been in oper­a­tion since 1896, and gold is still found in its claims today! Your guides will be mem­bers of the min­ing fam­i­ly that keeps Crow Creek oper­a­tional. This is their home, so tour groups are kept small, cre­at­ing a more inti­mate envi­ron­ment and allow­ing more time for ques­tions. Try your luck at pan­ning, and keep what you find. 

Season: May 01 to Oct 04 $129+ 3.75 hrs - 5 hrs

Phillips 26 Glac­i­er Cruise, out of Whit­ti­er, will take you to 26 dif­fer­ent glac­i­ers in just 5 hours. Enjoy cozy com­forts on the high-speed cata­ma­ran and wan­der its out­door decks as you come with­in 300 feet of mas­sive tide­wa­ter glac­i­ers. In addi­tion to glac­i­ers, the cap­tain will be on the look­out for wildlife like otters, whales, har­bor seals, and marine birds. The trip takes place in the after­noon, and a hot lunch is includ­ed in your tour.   ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $645+ all-inclusive packages One day or 3-night

Since 1963, Rust’s has been safe­ly car­ry­ing anglers far away from the crowds. Expe­ri­enced guides lead you to world-class fish­ing for kings, sil­vers, grayling, and trout in some of Alaska’s most beau­ti­ful and remote wilder­ness — and they’ll clean and pack­age your catch for the trip back to Anchor­age. On the way, enjoy a win­dow-seat view and pilot narration.

Season: Year Round $379+ 1 hr - full day

For out­stand­ing view­ing and incred­i­ble access to remote places, there’s noth­ing like flight­see­ing by heli­copter. Join Alas­ka Heli­copter Tours – a local­ly-owned, high­ly-respect­ed heli­copter tour and char­ter com­pa­ny – for excur­sions that reveal hid­den sites just min­utes from Anchor­age. Spot wildlife from the air, stand on a glac­i­er or land on a remote airstrip.

$135+ 1.5 – 3 hrs

There’s great Alaskan back­coun­try ATV rid­ing just a few miles south of Anchor­age. Engage in the sights, sounds, and smells of the north­ern­most tem­per­ate rain­for­est while expe­ri­enc­ing the thrill of the throt­tle through the wind­ing wood­ed trails of the Chugach Moun­tain Range. In the alpine mead­ows of this wilder­ness area, there are fre­quent sight­ings of both brown and black bears, moun­tain goats, and Dall sheep.

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

Season: Year Round $59+ 2.5 hrs - 8 hrs

A lot of com­pa­nies offer Anchor­age city tours, but very few of them vis­it this many sites, are guid­ed by locals, and use vans instead of motor­coach­es. With Salmon Berry Tours, you’ll trav­el the city in the com­fort of a van, with an Alaskan guide who will take you on a his­toric and scenic spin around the city. Or, try the Glac­i­er Turn trip which includes Portage Glac­i­er, Tur­na­gain Arm, Mt. Alyeska Tramway, the Alas­ka Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Center.  ...more

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Season: Apr 01 to Sep 30 $85+ 90 Mins

Want to liv­en up your sight­see­ing expe­ri­ence in Anchor­age? Explore the ins and outs of down­town on a motor­ized two-wheeled Seg­way. Glid­ing effort­less­ly down the side­walk with a small group and infor­ma­tive tour guides is a pop­u­lar way to expe­ri­ence the best of Anchor­age in a short amount of time.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $600+ 8 hrs

You don’t need to be an expert or a Hol­ly­wood star to enjoy fly-out fish­ing in the wilds of Alas­ka. Trail Ridge Air offers guid­ed, non-guid­ed and cus­tom trips, get­ting you into creeks and lakes where you can catch not only fish, but also a great Alaskan fish tale of your very own.

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 30 $895+ per person 6 - 12 hrs

View­ing brown bears in their nat­ur­al habi­tat is one of the most amaz­ing things you can do in Alas­ka. If it’s high on your list, book a flight-see­ing/ bear view­ing trip with Trail Ridge Air, know­ing that per­son­able pilots will take you to where bears splash and fish, and where vis­i­tors run out of words to describe their amazement.

Season: Aug 07 to May 10 $249+ 6 hours

Pho­to­graph alpen­glow on snow capped moun­tains, frosty scenes glow­ing in rich win­ter light, wildlife wan­der­ing snowy paths, city lights reflect­ing on the water at twi­light, and pos­si­bly even the north­ern lights!

Season: Year Round $95+ Day Tours | $35+ Rentals Half and Full Day Tours | Rentals 4hrs+

Anchor­age may be Alaska’s big city, but this bicy­cle tour oper­a­tor offers quick proof that the city has a lot of wilder­ness. Choose your ride based on half-day or full-day options, as well as dif­fi­cul­ty. You’ll go from down­town to Moth­er Nature — with moun­tains, coastal views, and the occa­sion­al moose sight­ing — in no time at all. Bet­ter yet, the tours often include beer tast­ings or lunch.

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

Season: Year Round
$775+
Land Package Type: Photography Tours

Don’t just expe­ri­ence the beau­ty of Alas­ka — learn how best to cap­ture it on your cam­era. Trav­el with award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­ph­er Jeff Schultz and you’ll get per­son­al­ized, hands-on instruc­tion as you take in the state’s mag­nif­i­cent sights. Choose from cus­tom tours or small group tours with a max­i­mum of 6 par­tic­i­pants that depart through­out the year and include accom­mo­da­tions, trans­porta­tion, and meals.

Season: May 25 to Sep 15 $649 per person

Expe­ri­ence the wilder­ness of the Chugach Nation­al For­est from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Com­bine a heli­copter ride, alpine hike, glacial lake tour, riv­er raft­ing and train ride all in 9 – 10 hours! It’s one big and bold Alas­ka tour de force with Chugach Adventures.

Season: Year Round $125+ .5 to 3 hrs

Explore Alas­ka from above with this fam­i­ly-owned com­pa­ny that oper­ates out of Anchor­age. Options include fly­ing above Denali, Knik and Colony Glac­i­er, the Chugach Moun­tains, and more!

Season: May 29 to Sep 15 $200+

The orig­i­nal hall­mark trip that got the Alas­ka Rail­road to bring the Glac­i­er Dis­cov­ery to Spencer Glac­i­er in 2002. This is one of the most scenic glac­i­er riv­er trips in Alas­ka and a per­fect float for all ages. Your trip begins with a scenic ride on Alas­ka Railroad’s Glac­i­er Dis­cov­ery train, which runs from Anchor­age, Gird­wood, and oth­er pick-up points along the rail­belt. Enjoy a beau­ti­ful ride down Tur­na­gain Arm and the Plac­er Riv­er Val­ley and  ...more

Season: Year Round $175+ 3.5 to 9 hrs

Lazy Otter offers clas­sic tours, but this is a water taxi, so they’ll also take you any­where you want to go with­in Price William Sound — or just cus­tomize a tour to what­ev­er you want to see. Maybe that’s glac­i­ers, or whales, — or maybe it’s qui­et time on a seclud­ed beach. Lazy Otter can also help facil­i­tate tak­ing you and your fam­i­ly on a camp­ing trip. You’re not held to any strict sched­ule, either: if, on a day tour, you can spend more time in one  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $50+ 8 hrs - Full Day

Lazy Otter offers offers dou­ble and sin­gle kayak rentals, and trans­porta­tion to seclud­ed areas of Prince William Sound. Not ready to kayak alone? Opt for a guid­ed trip. The calm waters have a gor­geous back­drop of the Chugach Moun­tains’ ser­rat­ed peaks. Keep an eye out for the crea­tures that walk the shores and swim in the sea: orcas, hump­back whales, sea lions, puffins, seals, sea otters, eagles, goats, and bears. 

$62+ Half or Full Day

Alyeska Resort is famous for its down­hill ski­ing and snow­board­ing for a rea­son — it’s tru­ly world-class, fea­tur­ing tons of snow, steep moun­tains, and views that stretch on for­ev­er. But there are a ton of oth­er win­ter activ­i­ties that make Alyeska an epi­cen­ter for win­ter adven­ture. Go cross-coun­try ski­ing or snow­shoe­ing on one of the area trails; or head off into the back­coun­try with a guide for some heli- or cat-ski­ing; try a snow­mo­bile excursion;  ...more

Season: May 04 to Sep 25 $20 1 hr

Step aboard Anchor­age’s first trol­ley. Relax and enjoy the ride while your guide shows you the sites and attrac­tions of Anchor­age. You’ll see the Alas­ka Rail­road, Lake Hood (the world’s largest and busiest float-plane base), mys­te­ri­ous Earth­quake Park, Cook Inlet, Anchor­age Muse­um, shop­ping areas, and restau­rants. Your ride is ful­ly nar­rat­ed, and the trol­ley is heat­ed and enclosed.

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 15 $995 per person 8-10 hours

The 7- to 9‑hour tour out of Anchor­age’s Lake Hood is led by a pho­tog­ra­ph­er-pilot whom has pub­lished pho­tos in such mag­a­zines as Air and Space, Stearns and Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. Set up for the best shots, every pas­sen­ger gets a win­dow seat and a two-way head­set for pilot nar­ra­tion — you’ll have a stun­ning ride filled with pho­to ops of rugged moun­tains, glacial pools and ice blue glac­i­ers. Then, you’ll land on a remote water­way to take pho­tos on the  ...more

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Anchorage Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 16 miles Elevation Gain: 2900 feet

A straight­for­ward trip with big scenery pay­offs, like the pic­turesque Mint Hut and a val­ley dot­ted with hang­ing glac­i­ers. This trip is a great first back­pack­ing trip in Alas­ka with sim­ple logis­tics. It’s 16 miles with options for addi­tion­al miles and side trips.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

If you want a great work­out — to stun­ning moun­tain views high above the val­ley floor below — but want to save your knees on the way down, this trail is for you. It leaves from the Alyeska Resort tram build­ing and climbs steep switch­backs 2.2 miles and 2000 feet to the mid-moun­tain restau­rant where you can catch a free aer­i­al tram ride back down to the hotel. 

Reach­ing the sum­mit of Avalanche Moun­tain takes a con­sid­er­able amount of effort: a 5.5‑mile hike up Pow­er­line Trail fol­lowed by a 1.5‑mile off-trail scram­ble. But this 3,200-foot climb — which begins at the Glen Alps park­ing area, just 10 miles from down­town Anchor­age — takes no moun­taineer­ing skills. If you feel at all com­fort­able hik­ing and climb­ing over some loose stones and boul­ders, you should find this to be a very grat­i­fy­ing adventure.   ...more

This clear­ing at the edge of town once func­tioned as a fire­break between Anchor­age and its neigh­bor­ing for­est. At oth­er times, it act­ed as an airstrip, a golf course and even a makeshift hous­ing devel­op­ment, when peo­ple lived here dur­ing the 1940s boom in apart­ments cre­at­ed out of old bar­racks. Today the Park Strip — just one block wide but 13 blocks long — is home to ball fields, a gym, ice rink and a giant steam…  ...more

You’ll find even more play­grounds that take advan­tage of the unique assets of their loca­tions. Here’s a list of our top picks!

If you’d like to explore a snow-bound trail sys­tem through a majes­tic rain for­est that gets lit­tle vis­i­ta­tion in win­ter, try out Bird Val­ley in Chugach State Park south of Anchor­age off the Seward High­way. You and the fam­i­ly can stroll, ski, snow­shoe or snow-bike for hours through a serene and almost sur­re­al set­ting of tow­er­ing trees with an occa­sion­al stu­pen­dous view of Pen­guin Peak and Bird Ridge. 

Difficulty: Easy

Win­ner Creek Trail in Gird­wood (45 min­utes south of Anchor­age) is one of our favorite trails to take vis­it­ing friends and fam­i­ly. It’s an easy 3‑mile hike or bike ride on a wide, well-devel­oped trail with gen­tle ele­va­tion gain that winds through America’s north­ern­most rain­for­est, cross­es a wood­en bridge over a thun­der­ing blue-water gorge, con­nects to a hand tram high above thrash­ing Glac­i­er Creek, then ends on Crow Creek Mine Road just below  ...more

Rent a moun­tain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some cram­pons and go trekking on a glacier. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Who can say no to a cool water­fall only a half-hour’s dri­ve from town? One of the most pop­u­lar first hikes” for fam­i­lies with small chil­dren, the one-mile trail to Thun­der­bird Falls tra­vers­es a hand­some birch for­est along the Eklut­na Riv­er canyon to reach a deck with views of a 200-foot water­fall. Dur­ing win­ter, the falls can freeze, form­ing fab­u­lous columns of blue ice. 

Difficulty: Easy

For a chal­leng­ing and com­pact cross coun­try ski area where you’ll find just about every kind of ter­rain, you can’t go wrong at Beach Lake Nordic Ski Trails off South Birch­wood Loop in Chugiak. The 15-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem ranges from easy glid­ing to a sprawl­ing advanced loop with sud­den head­walls that morph into thrilling, high-speed descents. You can make it as chal­leng­ing or as sedate as you like.

The Camp­bell Creek Gorge over­look is one of Anchorage’s best kept secrets. It’s just a 25-minute uphill hike — even short­er on bike— from both the Hill­side Ski Chalet park­ing area and North Bivouc Trail­head, or a slight­ly longer 1‑hour hike from Camp­bell Airstrip. From the tree-cov­ered over­look, you can gaze hun­dreds of feet down a sheer cliff to Camp­bell Creek as it crash­es through a nar­row, brush-infest­ed canyon. 

Difficulty: Easy

If you’re look­ing for a wild oasis that’s just a 15-minute walk from down­town Anchor­age, look no fur­ther than Westch­ester Lagoon (also known as Mar­garet Eagan Sul­li­van Park). One of the city’s most pop­u­lar places, this is where locals come to play, as it has some­thing for every­one. You’ll find access to great trails and wildlife, as well as year-round activ­i­ties and events for the entire family. 

This 134-acre park is set in the woods where, in 1964, an entire neigh­bor­hood slid into the ocean dur­ing last cen­tu­ry’s most pow­er­ful earth­quake. The earth­quake was mea­sured at a 9.2 on the Richter scale and last­ed 4 min­utes. Today, this trag­ic event is com­mem­o­rat­ed in Anchorage’s Earth­quake Park, where you’ll find signs explain­ing the cir­cum­stances of the quake and its effect on the area.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

If peo­ple sug­gest climb­ing Flat­top, tell them you’d rather climb Ren­dezvous Peak. Flat­top is arguably Alaska’s most pop­u­lar (and there­fore, most crowd­ed) moun­tain; Ren­dezvous is far less crowd­ed and offers bet­ter views from the sum­mit. See them by hik­ing up 1,500 feet to the 4,050-foot summit. 

Some 50 miles north of Anchor­age, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. From the pic­nic table at the upper­most end of the trail, you’ll find a sat­is­fy­ing panoram­ic view of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Knik Riv­er val­leys. It’s a view as good, or bet­ter, than that from many summits.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Moth­er­lode Restau­rant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the sum­mer­time you can dri­ve the trail for a mile or two, but it is pit­ted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a park­ing area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail con­tin­ues with lit­tle ele­va­tion gain ini­tial­ly, but after a mile or so you will  ...more

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 Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

Trail head begins by tra­vers­ing pri­vate land, but an ease­ment has been pro­vid­ed for such. Easy to bike, ski, run or walk to mild slope with a wide sides, mak­ing is safe from avalanch­es in the win­ter. Should you choose to turn left at the start, you can go to Flat Top as an alter­na­tive route or Peak 2 or 3, depend­ing how far down you go down the trail before turn­ing left. Ptar­ma­gan Peak would be a more promi­nate peak just before the Rab­bit creek  ...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.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 2100 feet

It’s not as dif­fi­cult as you might think to hike to stand atop the pre­cip­i­tous, gul­ly-scarred face of Bear Point. But it’s not easy, either. The 2‑mile hike ascends 2,100 feet and can be tricky. But your reward is an amaz­ing view in all direc­tions, from the Kenai Penin­su­la to Denali and the Chugach Moun­tains to Matanus­ka Peak. 

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

Locat­ed at the north­west cor­ner of Westch­ester Lagoon, and next to the Coastal Trail and Westch­ester Bike Path, the playground’s group­ings of equip­ment cre­ate a bril­liant play envi­ron­ment that is fun and challenging. 

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.

Distance: 6 miles Elevation Gain: 300 feet

If you only have a lim­it­ed amount of time in Anchor­age but want go out for a great hike, con­sid­er Kin­caid Bluff Trail. Just a 20-minute dri­ve from down­town Anchor­age, this is a 6‑mile loop hike to Kin­caid Chalet. Along the way, you’ll find 3 miles of rugged trail that skirt the sum­mit of pre­cip­i­tous bluffs at the end of the Anchor­age Peninsula. 

Difficulty: Moderate

For one of the loop­i­est and fun Nordic ski areas in the city, try out the trails behind Bartlett High School along the bound­ary of the mil­i­tary base. Hilly, with lots of curves that spring into quick and sud­den climbs, this five-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem through a mature for­est packs a lot of ski­ing into a small footprint.

Difficulty: Difficult

Not every­one should under­take this 13-mile tra­verse that begins at Glen Alps above Anchor­age. Con­sid­er­able off-trail hik­ing, plus a steep climb to a ridge top, might be out­side your com­fort zone. But this trail does offer a pro­found sense of soli­tude and some spec­tac­u­lar views. It also includes the nov­el­ty of hik­ing a mile-long sheep trail that tra­vers­es the back of The Wedge, some 500 feet above the seclud­ed waters of Ship Lake. 

Difficulty: Easy

This trail has its own sit­ting area and view­ing deck with views of Anchor­age, the Alas­ka Range, and Cook Inlet. It is real­ly good for see­ing sun­sets in the evening but it is also windy. The whole route is wheel­chair acces­si­ble. This is a good short hike for the fam­i­ly to see the view over Anchor­age, but not a good trail for the train­ing runner. 

Set along the Coastal Trail at the very end of 5th Avenue in Anchor­age, Elder­ber­ry boasts 1.5 acres of scenic park­land with great views of Cook Inlet. Because it’s close to down­town, you can make this a rest stop while tour­ing and shop­ping down­town. Come with a pic­nic, or just a walk while enjoy­ing the view. 

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 1500 feet

This 7‑mile hike, which begins in the moun­tains just above Anchor­age, takes you to the numer­ous Willi­waw Lakes, all of which are clus­tered below the sheer north face of Mount Willi­waw — the high­est peak in the Front Range.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 1 mile

If you only have a lit­tle expe­ri­ence doing off-trail hik­ing, then this scenic 5‑miler will help you get a bit more under your belt. Begin­ning on Rab­bit Creek Trail, in the Front Range just above Anchor­age, this hike vis­its a sur­pris­ing­ly expan­sive and scenic plateau that remains hid­den from sight until you actu­al­ly climb to it. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 8 miles

While many peo­ple find sat­is­fac­tion in climb­ing to the top of Bear Point, oth­ers may won­der about reach­ing the sum­mit of Mount Eklut­na, the promi­nent peak ris­ing just to the east. It involves two more miles of hik­ing, up 1,100 feet, includ­ing a short, sharp scram­ble up a grav­el trail. You can return to the Peters Creek Trail trail­head via an alter­nate route, which makes for a fine loop hike. 

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 4200 feet

A short road called Konikson locat­ed just past Bird Ridge head­ing east will take you to the trail­head. Stay to the right until you see a trail about a quar­ter mile in going right and up. The trail fol­lows a small drainage, and quick­ly gets past the tree line. 

Elevation Gain: 3293 feet

You don’t have to be a moun­taineer to reach the sum­mit of O’Malley Peak — the promi­nent spire ris­ing from the Front Range above Anchor­age — but don’t mis­take it for an easy climb. Some of the 5‑mile-long trail climbs quite steeply; oth­er parts add very loose grav­el to the incline. Still, these con­di­tions don’t make this hike exces­sive­ly dan­ger­ous, just sat­is­fy­ing­ly laborious. 

Difficulty: Easy

For an easy, scenic walk in Anchor­age, check out the Chester Creek Trail. The 4‑mile-long path, which runs from Westch­ester Lagoon to Goose Lake, is not only flat, but also paved, mak­ing for an easy stroll. And though it pass­es close to neigh­bor­hoods, the trail is part of the city’s green­belt” — a wood­ed area that makes you feel like you’ve left the city behind. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 9 miles Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Rarely do two lakes lie with­in a few feet of each oth­er. For­tu­nate­ly, the trail to see this geo­log­i­cal rar­i­ty begins just a 30-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age. From the trail­head for South Fork Eagle Riv­er Trail, it’s a grad­ual 4.8‑mile (one-way) climb up a wide val­ley, lead­ing to a nar­row isth­mus between the green waters of Eagle Lake and the blue waters of Sym­pho­ny Lake.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This trail quick­ly gains ele­va­tion on its way to an alpine mead­ow framed by the dra­mat­ic Twin Peaks and Goat Rock, but climbs to mag­nif­i­cent views over­look­ing the entire val­ley. Dall Sheep are often spot­ted above the tim­ber­line. From here there is a spec­tac­u­lar view of the lake below. This is also a good place for berry pick­ing in the fall. Because of the crushed rocks, the trail is hard­ly ever muddy.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 1350 feet

Flat­top is Alaska’s most vis­it­ed peak. Ascend the 1.5 — mile, 1,350 ver­ti­cal foot trail to the rocky, foot­ball field-sized sum­mit in about an hour and take in panoram­ic views from Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) to the Aleut­ian Islands. If you want vis­tas with­out the hike, walk the short path from the park­ing lot to the overlook.

Difficulty: Moderate

Black Tail Rocks is a very airy climb that stretch­es to 4,446 feet above Eagle Riv­er, a town locat­ed just north of Anchor­age. It’s a jour­ney that involves only a min­i­mal amount of hand-over-hand scram­bling; you’ll be fol­low­ing a trail for most of the 4‑mile, 2,750-foot hike. And you’ll have a fine view from the top, look­ing up the length of the seclud­ed Mead­ow Creek Val­ley and well into the deep inner reach­es of the Chugach Mountains. 

Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 4301 feet

You’ll have a hard time los­ing your way on this 2.5‑mile climb of 4,301-foot-high McHugh Peak. You’ll also have a hard time for­get­ting the view from the sum­mit, which extends up the length of Tur­na­gain Arm and across Knik Arm to the Alas­ka Range. It’s even more sat­is­fy­ing know­ing that you found your way to the sum­mit with only min­i­mal help from the trail. 

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