Photo Credit: Jessica Matthews

Moose Viewing Spots

A great nickname for Alaska might be “Moose World.” These gangly, bulbous-nosed browsers with a cranky reputation—ranging from shy 800-pound cows to 1,600-pound bulls with majestic antlers—are relatively easy to see throughout the mainland. They are probably Alaska’s most-often viewed large mammal, fascinating to residents both as a food source (via hunting) and an icon of the natural world.

Tip: They Can Show Up Almost Anyplace!

When they’re not bedded down for a snooze, moose spend their days strolling through wooded and brushy areas looking for food. They are often alone. Seeing one on the move—particularly during summer or inside an urban greenbelt—depends a bit on luck. Don’t give up!

How to Improve Your Chances:

  • During summer, visit edge habitat along wetlands or water bodies both early and late—think sunrise and dusk—when moose are most active.
  • During winter, moose eat willow and birch, and favor areas where wind has blown snow away. Look for stands of stunted trees that have been browsed and well-trod paths dotted with round “moose pellets” (their wood-based winter poop.)

Popular spots

Jump to: MAP | Potter Marsh | Kincaid Park | Chugach State Park | Portage Valley | Tern Lake | Kenai River Estuary | Palmer Hay Flats | Denali National Park | Chena River Valley | Off-The-Beaten Track | Nome & the Seward Peninsula | Guaranteed Moose Viewing | Viewing Tips

Potter Marsh (the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge)

Huge moose make for spectacular sightings in the Alaskan wilderness

Huge moose make for spectacular sightings in the Alaskan wilderness

20 minutes south of downtown Anchorage

Moose can be spotted frequently in and around Potter Marsh, a 564-acre fresh pond and wetland complex that stretches for nearly two miles between the New Seward Highway and the base of the Chugach Mountains.

Kincaid Park

15 minutes from downtown Anchorage at the end of Raspberry Road

Moose thrive in the open birch-spruce forest and willow thickets of Kincaid Park in the southwestern corner of the Anchorage peninsula. With more than 70 miles of trails crisscrossing its rugged 1,500 acres, Kincaid makes it easy for people to get deep into the woods where moose hang out. It has a solid reputation as one of the mostly likely places in Anchorage to see a moose on purpose, even during summer when the animals tend to seek out jungled greenery.

Powerline Pass Trail of Chugach State Park

An easy half-mile hike from the Glen Alps Trailhead

In one of the most extraordinary wildlife spectacles in Alaska, dozens of moose converge on the brushy upper valley of the South Fork of Campbell Creek every fall during moose-mating season. This annual rut draws an amazing number of these large animals into the open, with 20 to 30 antlered bulls and cows often mingling within sight of easy walking just about any day in September and October. It’s this no-fuss access that makes the phenomenon so remarkable.

Portage Valley and the head of Turnagain Arm

An hour southeast of Anchorage down the Seward Highway

Moose find river valleys and wetlands irresistible, drawn by the lush greenery during summer and the woody browse during winter. The Twentymile and Placer river valleys reach for miles into open country visible from the Seward Highway at the head of Turnagain Arm. Portage Valley—extending about five miles east of the Seward Highway to the shore of Portage Glacier Lake—is full of prime moose habitat that’s easy to view.

Tern Lake

Moose with her calves on Outwash Plain

Moose with her calves on Outwash Plain

About 2 hours south of Anchorage or half hour east of Seward

Wildlife regularly converges on this shallow and very productive lake surrounded by big, open slopes in the heart of the Kenai Mountains. Famous for attracting waterfowl and migrating birds—Arctic terns, trumpeter swans, mew gulls—Tern Lake also draws moose to the boundaries between meadows and forest, especially early and late in the day. Sweeping, unobstructed views of the shoreline make viewing especially productive.

Kenai River Estuary

About two hours south of Anchorage via Seward and Sterling highways

The Kenai River meanders through a sweeping salt marsh and wetland on its final five-mile journey to its mouth on Cook Inlet. While more well known for its immense flocks of migrating birds and the presence of a small herd of caribou, the estuary also draws moose into the open.

Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge

About 40 minutes north of Anchorage up the Glenn Highway

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.

Denali National Park

4 hours from Anchorage or 2.5 hours from Fairbanks

Moose frequent the river valleys and forested hills on the north side of the Alaska Range inside Denali National Park.. They are regularly spotted by travelers and bus riders along the 92-mile-long Denali Park Road. Venture out early and go as deep into the park as you have time for. Use binoculars and scan periodically for movement. Also watch for the park’s other marquee mega-fauna: brown bears, grey wolves, caribou and Dall sheep.

Chena River Valley (near Fairbanks)

Six hours from Anchorage north on Parks Highway

Thousands of moose forage in the river valleys surrounding Alaska’s Interior city, but can it can be challenging to catch sight of one on demand, especially during the green season. The paved Chena Hot Springs Road runs about 60 miles up the Chena River valley to the hot springs resort and probably offers the best shot at catching a moose in their element.

Potential Moose Viewing Off-The-Beaten Track

  • Lakina River pullout (Wrangell St. Elias National Park) This pullout at Mile 44 of the McCarthy Road overlooks open country where marsh borders the Lakina River. It’s worth a short hike during a trip to McCarthy and Kennecott to look moose and other wildlife sign along a wild river bottom.
  • Beach Trail outside Gustavus This ocean-front trail leads from Glacier Bay Lodge about one mile along the shore of Bartlett Cove near the entrance of Glacier Bay, and has a local reputation for productive viewing of both marine and terrestrial wildlife. Along with other trails in the Bartlett Cove area and along the Bartlett River, Beach Trail may offer the best chance of seeing moose in the Glacier Bay region.
  • Moose Pond near Delta Junction on the Richardson Highway With its brushy fringe habitat, this small pond tucked into the forest on Lost Lake Trail in the Quartz Lake State Recreation Area offers classic moose viewing potential. It’s part of an extensive trail system with overlooks and loops through the 600-acre park.

Nome & the Seward Peninsula

A 90-minute flight from Anchorage

A wide range of wildlife inhabits the coastal boreal forests, brushy foothills and extensive tundra near this Bering Sea community of 4,000, including a healthy population of moose. What makes Nome so extraordinary among many remote Alaska communities is its 300 miles of maintained gravel roads. Three different highways reach up the coast and into the peninsula’s wild interior, offering extraordinary access into sub-Arctic habitat that would ordinarily be difficult or expensive to view.

See moose up close at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a home for orphaned and rescued moose

See moose up close at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a home for orphaned and rescued moose

Guaranteed Moose Viewing

Even though Alaska has gobs of moose, catching sight of one on demand can be elusive, especially during summer when the big animals tend to go deep into the brush. (Alaskans will joke that the surefire way to see a moose is to just stop trying, and then you’ll run into two nibbling on trees down the street.) But if you don’t mind viewing moose under human care, you’re always in luck.

Alaska Zoo in Anchorage

Moose are among the most popular denizens of the zoo, rescued or orphaned animals that live in the zoo’s moose habitat. 4731 O'Malley Road in South Anchorage.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Several rescued or orphaned moose live out their lives in a large outdoor enclosure on the 140-acre facility’s 1.5-mile driving or walking loop. Mile 79 of the Seward Highway in Portage, near the head of Turnagain Arm.

General Advice

  • Moose tend to ignore people, but they will react with aggression if approached too closely. Stay back at least 50 feet and pay attention to their behavior. Carry binoculars and telephoto lenses so you’re not tempted to press your luck. Moose can be dangerous.
  • Follow these precautions when you come face-to-face with a moose. Give even more space to a cow with calf in the spring, or an antlered bull in the fall.
  • Keep dogs away—in the vehicle or left at home. Many moose react to barking dogs by charging and kicking, as though approached by wolves.
  • An agitated and potentially dangerous moose will signal its mood with flattened ears, ruffled neck fur, mouth working or drooling, stomping or kicking. Back off and retreat!
  • Be alert for their unpredictable appearance while driving highways or hiking in the hills. It’s especially common to see them foraging along those ecotone boundaries between wood and wetland.
  • Spring and summer finds them feeding on lush greenery, sometimes hidden in jungled areas (especially cows and their newborn calves.) Excellent swimmers, moose frequently wade into ponds and lakes to munch aquatic plants.
  • Some of the best moose viewing occurs outside of the traditional visitor season. Fall heralds the rut, when bulls will pursue cows into open country. Winter concentrates the animals near stands of willow and birch browse, identifiable because the trees have often been “pruned” into stunted bonsai-like forms.
  • Moose can become easiest to glimpse after snow drives them into windswept areas—or into the neighborhoods of Anchorage, Fairbanks and other communities where the walking becomes easier.
  • Note that moose are not usually present in the open tundra, on many islands and in rain forest habitat (especially coastal Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound.)

For More Information

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Moose Viewing Spots

Anchorage Area

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.

Season: Year Round $17 1.5 - 2 hrs

The Alas­ka Zoo start­ed in 1966 with one baby ele­phant named Annabelle that was won in a con­test. Since then, it has expand­ed to include over 77 ani­mals across 25 acres of the Anchor­age hillside.

In one of the most extra­or­di­nary wildlife spec­ta­cles in Alas­ka, dozens of moose con­verge on the brushy upper val­ley of the South Fork of Camp­bell Creek every fall dur­ing moose-mat­ing sea­son. This annu­al rut in Chugach State Park draws an amaz­ing num­ber of these large ani­mals into the open.

Moose thrive in the open birch-spruce for­est and wil­low thick­ets of Kin­caid Park in the south­west­ern cor­ner of the Anchor­age penin­su­la. With more than 70 miles of trails criss­cross­ing its rugged 1,500 acres, Kin­caid makes it easy for peo­ple to get deep into the woods where moose hang out.

A great win­ter view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty! Moose reg­u­lar­ly con­gre­gate in this immense, brushy wet­land that sprawls at the head of Knik Arm, 30 to 35 miles north of Anchor­age. The 28,000-acre refuge has excel­lent habi­tat for moose.

The Twen­tymile and Plac­er riv­er val­leys reach for miles into open coun­try vis­i­ble from the Seward High­way at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm. The five-mile-long val­ley along Portage Glac­i­er Road — with its many trails, ponds and pull­outs — also coax­es moose into the open for reli­able viewing.

Moose can be spot­ted fre­quent­ly in and around Pot­ter Marsh, a 564-acre fresh pond and wet­land com­plex on the out­skirts of Anchor­age. This rich habi­tat may be more well-known for migra­to­ry and nest­ing birds, but moose are reg­u­lar vis­i­tors in all seasons.

Denali National Park

The best spots to see moose near the entrance of Denali Nation­al Park, and along the 92-mile Denali Park Road.

Fairbanks & Interior

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.

Thou­sands of moose for­age in the riv­er val­leys sur­round­ing Fair­banks, but can it can be chal­leng­ing to catch sight of one on demand, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the green sea­son. The paved Chena Hot Springs Road runs about 60 miles up the Chena Riv­er val­ley to the hot springs resort and offers the best shot at catch­ing a moose in their element. 

Kenai Peninsula

This pic­turesque town 30 miles out­side of Seward got its name, in part, in 1903 when a moose got in the way of a mail carrier’s dog team. Cer­tain­ly, there have been and still are plen­ty of moose around here. Locat­ed on the shores of Upper Trail Lake, the town is sur­round­ed by the Chugach Nation­al For­est and is also home to the start of the Idi­tar­od trail, which was blazed through here in 1910. Since it seems to be just a dot on the road,…  ...more

Sounds Wild: Pond-Bot­tom MooseThe wet­lands where the Kenai Spur High­way cross­es Beaver Creek are great for view­ing moose in the ear­ly morn­ing or late evening. Like most streams on the Kenai Penin­su­la, the stream­side veg­e­ta­tion con­sists of wil­lows- a favorite food of moose. Look to your right as you head toward Kenai and check out all the wet­land areas for the next cou­ple of miles.More Information   ...more

The Kenai Riv­er mean­ders through a sweep­ing salt marsh and wet­land on its final five-mile jour­ney to its mouth on Cook Inlet. While more well known for its immense flocks of migrat­ing birds and the pres­ence of a small herd of cari­bou, the estu­ary also draws moose into the open. 

Wildlife reg­u­lar­ly con­verges on this shal­low and very pro­duc­tive lake sur­round­ed by big, open slopes in the heart of the Kenai Moun­tains. Famous for attract­ing water­fowl and migrat­ing birds,Tern Lake also draws moose to the bound­aries between mead­ows and for­est, espe­cial­ly ear­ly and late in the day.

Inside Passage

Difficulty: Easy

The Beach Trail departs from Glac­i­er Bay Lodge in Gus­tavus and fol­lows the shore for one mile, tra­vers­ing beach mead­ows and for­est habi­tats, home to por­cu­pines, bears and moose.

Hump­back whales, sea otters and har­bor seals are scat­tered through­out the Beard­slees, with whales and otters most like­ly to be seen on the west­ern side of the islands — near­est to open water. Watch the shore for black bears and moose. Black oys­ter­catch­ers – black shore­birds with bright red-orange bills – nest on the islands. Look for har­le­quin ducks, pigeon guille­mots, pelag­ic cor­morants, arc­tic terns, mar­bled mur­relets and large flocks of  ...more

Nome

A range of wildlife inhab­its the bore­al forests, brushy foothills and exten­sive tun­dra. What makes Nome so extra­or­di­nary among many remote Alas­ka com­mu­ni­ties is its exten­sive grav­el road sys­tem. Three dif­fer­ent high­ways reach up the coast and into the peninsula’s wild inte­ri­or. Rent­ing a vehi­cle dur­ing sum­mer into fall sea­sons enables vis­i­tors to explore sub-Arc­tic coun­try that would ordi­nar­i­ly be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult or very expen­sive to access.  ...more

Off the Beaten Path

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.

Moose are not abun­dant in the Black­stone uplands but they are some­times seen feed­ing in this small lake. The abun­dance of shrub­by wil­lows around the lake and along the Black­stone Riv­er pro­vide a good place for moose to eat and hide.This may also be your first chance to see water­fowl in the uplands. Watch for north­ern pin­tail, amer­i­can wid­geon, north­ern shov­el­er, har­le­quin duck and many oth­ers. Also watch for a vari­ety of song­birds like…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed at Mile 17 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way. An acces­si­ble board­walk leads vis­i­tors to stun­ning views of both the expan­sive wet­lands of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta and the sur­round­ing moun­tains. A wide vari­ety of wet­land ani­mals includ­ing trum­peter swans, moose, brown bear, and shore­birds can be seen in the area, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the spring and fall. The first half of this trail is paved with geoblock, so that it does not have a negative…  ...more

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