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.
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Summer or winter, visit a family-run champion kennel, meet friendly dogs and an experienced musher for a ride along private trails with views of Denali. Opt to ride in the sled or mush your own. Or, for a truly authentic adventure, go on a training run for the Iditarod! Large groups and special events welcome when organized in advance.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise, out of Whittier, will take you to 26 different glaciers in just 5.5 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
8 Day / 7 Nights
Visits: Anchorage, Talkeetna, Palmer
Land Package Type: Photography Tours
This fall photography trip offers some of the best photo opportunities in Alaska as the seasons change. Head to Lake Clark National Park for grizzly bears, turquoise-colored lakes, snowcapped mountains and the bright gold colors of fall. You’ll also spend a half day photographing moose, and a helicopter flight to an iceberg-filled glacial lake only accessible by air. Fall can also be a wonderful time to photograph the aurora borealis, weather ...more
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.
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.
Walking out across the ice of Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier is an unforgettable experience that you can take advantage of year-round — and it’s just a two-hour drive from Anchorage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This experienced, locally run company offers a superb guide-to-visitor ratio, creating a real feeling of intimacy, while their expert guides will help deepen your understanding of the area. From city overviews to forays just outside town, Salmon Berry Tours offers experiences from 2.5 hours up to a full 8‑hour tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anchorage Parks & Trails View All
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.