This world-class, 115,000-square-foot facility was built with funds from the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and serves to remind visitors—in a highly interactive way—of the importance of understanding and maintaining Alaska's marine ecosystem. See life swimming right before your eyes: witness a Steller sea lion gliding past underwater viewing windows, puffins diving in natural habitat, and harbor seals resting on rocky beaches. Take self-guided or behind-the-scenes tours.
In the agricultural Matanuska Valley just north of Anchorage, you can pet a reindeer or feed fresh willow to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Reindeer Farm has been in the Williams family for three generations. During the one-hour tour, you’ll hear interesting, funny, and insightful stories about these wild animals while walking around the property. If you want to see the baby reindeer, come in June!
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.
Spring to Summer (Winter by Appointment)
Located 45 minutes from Anchorage, the Musk Ox farm project was conceived in the 1950s as an agrarian opportunity for villagers in Western Alaska; today it’s a fascinating look at an animal (and a way of life) that was perilously close to extinction. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friendly creatures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.
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.
You may think of reindeer as flying creatures of the imagination, but here in Alaska they’re very real. And this unique tour gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals. Walk among them and pet them—it’s truly a moment made for Instagram.
Daily tours at the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS) at University of Alaska Fairbanks provide visitors with the chance to view muskoxen and reindeer while learning about ongoing research studying the adaptations enabling these arctic animals to survive and thrive in extremely cold temperatures.