Moose Viewing at Palmer Hay Flats

A great winter viewing opportunity! Moose regularly congregate in this immense, brushy wetland that sprawls at the head of Knik Arm in the mouth of the Matanuska Valley, about 30 to 35 miles north of Anchorage. The 28,000-acre refuge—extending west from where the Glenn Highway crosses toward Palmer and Wasilla—has excellent habitat for moose, with grassland and marsh interspersed by stands of trees on drier ground.

Where Will You Find The Most Moose?

During winter, strong prevailing winds sweep away snow, and moose converge on the open country to browse in large numbers. It’s not uncommon to see a score or more of moose in one glance, foraging together for winter food, as though they had formed a herd. With a designated driver keeping an eye on the road, passengers can enjoy a unique spectacle while traveling at highway speeds. Several access points allow people to explore on foot, with a 35-foot viewing tower rising from the northwest side of Reflections Lake providing an excellent perch. A good strategy might be to scan from the highway first, then stop if prospects for seeing moose up close seem promising. During summer, moose will be more difficult to spot as they spread out. Cows drop calves during spring green-up and remain during the summer. Make the viewing tower a first stop.

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Getting There

Latitude: 61.486874
Longitude: -149.250781

Take the Glenn Highway north from Anchorage about 30 miles until it crosses the Knik River and enters the broad Mat-Su Valley. During winter, moose may be visible from the car. Spring and summer will require exploring on foot. Try these access points:

  • Knik River/Reflections Lake exit off the Glenn Highway at mile 30.5.
  • Rabbit Slough access at mile 35.5 Parks Highway at Trunk Road exit.
  • Cottonwood Creek access on Hayfield Road off Fairview Loop.
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Driving Directions