Here you'll find one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, rednecked grebes, golden eyes, and pintails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water.
From the base of the Homer Spit, take this 4-mile paved trail to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. The trail is in excellent condition and is flat as a pancake for most of its length. The first mile of trail is along a broad estuary that is great for birding. Once you pass the one-mile mark you’ll be riding past fishing boats that are out of the water being worked on as well as a few shops.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game operate the Crooked Creek hatchery, adult salmon may be viewed moving up the stream and fishway into the hatchery raceways; king salmon in late June and early July and coho salmon in late August and September. Each salmon is identified and counted as it swims through the chute using an underwater video camera.
See saltwater holding pens full of fish fry (young ones) waiting to be released into the ocean. In June and July, the water boils with swirling fish, eagles perch in almost every tree, and commercial purse-seiner fishermen capture surface fish by encircling them in long nets.
Mid May through early October
If you want to marvel at the sight of thousands of fish schooling in gigantic tanks, take the self-guided tour inside the state fish hatchery on the banks of Ship Creek east of downtown. The museum-quality observation deck offers intimate views of a complex operation that produces up to six million sport fish each year.
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.
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals—from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose—and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
Learn how the fish are raised from small alevin to fry and beyond to smolt size before being released into surrounding lakes and bays. Depending on the fish cycle, there may or may not be fish to view, so please call ahead. If there are no fish to be seen, you're welcome to look at a small photo gallery and learn about the fish production cycle, and understand why More...
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 crisscrossed by a world-class trail system usable all year round.
Salmon work hard to make their annual appearance at the Eagle River Nature Center's salmon viewing deck, leaping the abandoned beaver dam, among other obstacles. Over the years, this viewing deck has supported hundreds of photographers capturing moose, bears, eagles, and unparalleled views.
This salmon viewing location includes an all-acccessible viewing platform overlooking the creek as well as viewing opportunties along Ptarmigan Creek trail. Sockeye salmon will be in the creek from late July to early October with the best viewing in mid-August. Vehicle parking is in the day use area inside Ptarmigan Creek Campground.
You’ll either enjoy a peaceful walk through a secluded and beautiful estuary ripe with birdlife—or have a ringside seat at the annual salmon dipnetting extravaganza, featuring hordes of crazed locals armed with 10-foot poles. The beach road emerges from the forest at a river-mouth lined by dunes, tidally influenced beach, an estuary and broad salt marsh.
For glimpses of the big Chinook salmon right inside the city’s industrial heart, check out the hatchery-seeded run at Ship Creek between late May into June. Hatchery-seeded coho salmon begin running through the same waters in late July through August.
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.
Visible outside the windows of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earthquake. Literally overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pastureland became salt flats and marshland. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habitat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are protected in the More...
Grouse Creek runs adjacent to the Seward Highway. To access this creek, exit onto the paved pullout at mile 8.3. There's a Chugach National Forest sign here too that marks the spot. From late- July to mid-September, you will be able to view sockeye salmon with the best chance of seeing fish in mid-August.
Great sockeye salmon observation site, especially in late July and early August. At other times of year it offers a moderate walk up to Ptarmigan Lake that’s great for families and features lots of bird life.
The Crooked Creek Information Center and salmon viewing platform are located on the outskirts of Valdez at Mile 0.5 of the Richardson Highway. Pink and chum salmon return to this clear water stream each summer to spawn with peak numbers seen in mid-August. Occasionally, black or brown bear can be observed feasting on the returning fish.
Thousands of pink salmon converge on Indian Creek each July and August, just about filling this shallow, easy-flowing stream south of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm from bank-to-bank. This amazing natural spectacle occurs in one of the easiest places to view spawning salmon in the region: No steep banks, crystal clear water and fish so close they could almost be touched.
Crystal-clear Williwaw Creek and its bank-side trail system in Portage Valley at the head of Turnagain Arm offers exceptionally good conditions for watching spawning in action. Coho, sockeye and chum salmon converge on the creek as it winds through the brushy flats beginning in mid-August, with some late-arriving fish still present after first frost in the fall.
This river originates from the Lakina Glacier and the southern flanks of Mt. Blackburn, spilling into the Chitina River several miles downstream. Pulling over to the side of the road just after the bridge at milepost 44, one can explore upstream for around a half-mile before getting boxed out by the forest and a narrowing of the river.
This remote site is accessible by boat or floatplane. Chalmers River is located about 3/4 mile north of a Forest Service public cabin on the northwest side of Montague Island in Prince William Sound. Spawning Pink and Chum salmon can be seen in the intertidal areas and a short distance upstream. Best salmon viewing times are late July through August with peak times in More...
This short, paved trail is an hour’s drive north of Anchorage in southern Wasilla. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats—a large stretch of wetlands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a viewing platform overlooks the flats and the Chugach Mountains beyond.
The Chena Riverwalk makes for a relaxing self-paced stroll along the Chena River and through the most scenic parks and plazas of historic downtown. It’s best when flowers are in full bloom (July-August). The path stretches approximately 3.5 miles between Pioneer Park and Airport Way, with longer options available. Or—park at Immaculate Conception Church or in the Downtown Transportation Center for a shorter jaunt.
At the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center’s mission is to provide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill animals—those that can't survive in the wild. The center, which opened to the public in 1993, educates visitors about Alaska's wildlife. Coyotes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a grizzly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal flat terrain, as part of a program that will one day restore the species to the Alaskan wilderness. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. Come be a part of these exciting programs and watch these animals display their natural, “wild”, behavior.
Either drive your own car or take the free shuttle 15 miles out the park road to the Savage River check station. This is a popular hiking trail, and you won’t be alone, but at least you’re away from the entrance area and entering the true wilderness of Denali National Park. This is a tundra walk on a developed trail that follows the river. Good hike for kids, with possibility of seeing Dall sheep, marmots, and caribou. You can do a loop walk, thanks to a bridge that crosses the Savage River just about one - half mile downstream.
Length: 2 miles Roundtrip Elvation: Minimal Time: 1.5 - 2 hrs.
Either drive your own car or take the free shuttle 15 miles out the park road to the Savage River check station. This is a…
Accessed via the 1.5-mile long Lost Lake Trail, Moose Lake is an excellent place to visit with a camera or binoculars. Knock-kneed moose are a frequent visitors to the area and you're most likely to see them if you arrive early in the morning or about an hour before sunset.
Slikok Creek passes under Kalifonsky Rd. and fish can be seen spawning near the culvert on both sides of the road. This is a critical habitat area and you are asked not to wander along the banks of this very sensitive stream. All viewing can be done next to the road. Best salmon viewing months are June and early-July.
This wildlife sweet spot is worth a visit. The Russian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, at milepost 52 of the Sterling Highway. Get off-the-beaten path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the immediate reward of spectacular salmon viewing.
If it’s Dall sheep you’re looking for then pull off to the right hand side of the road and get ready for to take some beautiful photos. The Dall Sheep are similar looking to mountain goats but have rammed shaped horns that curve on the sides of their head instead of pointed horns that go up. You may have to look up onto the rocks to see them but they’re there. Be sure More...
Every year, millions of shorebirds migrate from South America into Alaska where they stop to rest and feed on the Copper River Delta mud flats at Hartney Bay. Located about 5 miles south of Cordova near the end of Whitshed Road, the mudflats are host to thousands of Western Sandpiper during high tide during the first several days of May each year. Additionally, the Copper River More...
Just up ahead on the right is a small rock that sticks above the water and almost always has a mixed group of cormorants standing atop it drying out their feathers. This long necked black bird dives in the water and uses its feet to swim but unlike the puffins and other alcids has no oil in its feathers to aid in drying off. So they stand out on rocks to get dry.
Just up ahead More...
Harbor seals and sea otters are common sights in the Whittier Small Boat Harbor. You might also see salmon enthusiastically leaping from the water, a sight that cues locals to run for their fishing poles. King salmon run from May through early-July. From late-July through early-September, a run of silver salmon brings anglers from throughout Southcentral Alaska.More...
There is parking at the trailhead for passenger vehicles and one or two campers. The trail is half a mile long and takes you through a mature birch forest that is carpeted with devil's club and watermelon berry plants. It's an easy walking, ideal for small children, and ends at a small camping area on a slight bluff that overlooks Bishop's Beach and Bishop Creek. There is More...
For the next three miles, you’ll have a chance to see Dall Sheep. You’ll have to crane your neck and look straight up to the cliffs above on the left. These animals, as well as mountain goats, are protected from hunting in this area, part of the Sheep Mountain Game Protection Area. Dall sheep hang out on these cliffs to avoid predators. They live on grasses and sedges, and More...
Turn on Quartz Creek Road and proceed 2 miles to Quartz Creek Campground. The stream is adjacent to the picnic area and a trail expands Sockeye and Coho salmon viewing opportunities upstream or downstream. Salmon viewing takes place from late July to early October with best viewing in early August.
Shrode Creek is at the head of Long Bay on the west side of Culross Passage on Prince William Sound. This remote site is accessible by boat or plane. A one mile trail follows the river from the head of Long Bay to Shrode Lake where you will find sockeye, chum, pink, and coho salmon. Salmon are present from mid-July to mid-September with the best viewing in mid-August. A nearby Forest More...
This is a great pocket of wilderness right in Anchorage: easy to get to, quiet and pretty idyllic. Set in the northeastern section of Kincaid Park, Little Campbell Lake is packed with lily pads and surrounded by a thick forest lined with trails. Spend the afternoon hiking, swimming, fishing, or paddling around the lake.
A great place to catch a glimpse of Dall Sheep, Igloo Mountain is also where the first dinosaur tracks in the park were discovered. You can see them yourself, if you go on one of the many easy day hikes that start here.
A great place to catch a glimpse of Dall Sheep, Igloo Mountain is also where the first dinosaur tracks in the…
This is an undeveloped site that provides viewing opportunities of Sockeye salmon from Power Creek Road - four miles northeast of Cordova. Salmon will be in the creek from early July to mid-August with the best viewing in mid to late July. There is parking where the creek passes under the road.
The hike crosses Igloo Creek. Six miles into the hike there is a spot where the river breaks into three branches. This is a good place to see bears and Dall sheep. This trail is mostly unmarked and can be difficult to follow, but is a good example of the real outdoors in Denali National Park.
The hike crosses Igloo Creek. Six miles into the hike there is a spot where the river breaks into three…
This park is the confluence of the Kenai and Moose Rivers. Take a break at this recreation site named for the English author Izaak Walton who wrote The Compleat Angler. Look for the informational sign to learn about the Moose River Archaeological Site. You will also find a hosted campground and boat launch. There's excellent fly-fishing in this area.