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 More...
Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find yourself at the confluence of three wild rivers, overlooking a 20,000-foot peak? Close to downtown, this large, river-centered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoramic view of the Alaska Range.
Come here to see the mingling of 3 swift glacial rivers: the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna More...
Child's Glacier is certainly Alaska's most spectacular roadside glacier--it's the only one where you can see calving. Child's Glacier is 400 yards across the river from the viewing platform, so you can't walk up to it like you can Exit, Byron, or Matanuska Glaciers.
Directions: Cordova is an hour flight from Anchorage. Then, it's a 1 hr drive to the glacier.
Distance: 190 miles east of Anchorage
Drive Time: 3 hours
Explore: If you visit Cordova, make a day out of exploring the Copper River Highway (which ends at the glacier), Child's Glacier itself, and the nearby Million Dollar Bridge.
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.
Summit Lake, located some 60 miles north of Anchorage at the crest of Hatcher Pass, offers a short, memorable lakeside ramble. Here you can explore the surrounding gullies and slopes or just sit and watch hang gliders drift out over the long Willow Creek Valley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.
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.
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.
Refuge Cove State Recreation Site is a sliver of land lining part of an edge of a neighborhood and is a popular beach picnicking destination with the locals. The site comes complete with pit toilets, sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables with fire grates, and a quarter-mile trail accompanied by interpretive signs that address the local natural history.
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...
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.
Leaving from the end of Tongass Highway, enter the Lunch Creek Trail and very soon take the trail to the left as this steps you quickly down to a waterfall viewing platform and then the rest of the way down to where, to the right, you can also cross the Lunch Creek bridge, which provides waterfall views as well as the ocean where the creek flows into.
This recreation area is just a mile and a half from town, but it feels like wilderness—with deep woods and several lakes, it's a great place to hike, run, canoe, fish, or look for wildlife. Watch for otters, beavers, bears, foxes, moose, and more than 100 species of birds, including raptors and loons. The park's best feature is a nicely groomed 3.5-mile walking trail around X More...
Settlers Cove State Recreation Site offers two of the best sandy beaches to be found in the Ketchikan area and provides pit toilets and sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables with fire grates. A campground with eight campsites is available as well and one public-use cabin on the water that can be rented.
If you have the ability to transport bicycles, this trail makes for a great afternoon trip. The dirt path winds through the Portage Valley, passing glacial lakes and ending at Portage Lake (this part of the trip is 5 miles each way). Make sure to bring your camera: you’ll see hanging glaciers and, very likely, some wildlife.
Talkeetna may have one of Alaska’s best adult playgrounds, as it hosts mountain climbers and adventurers from all over the world, but that doesn’t mean kids don’t fit in, too. A group of mothers got together in 2008 and built this playground, worthy of a frontier town. Constructed from rough-hewn timbers, the play area incorporates mazes, cabins, swings, slides, and even art from local children.
Explore the 4000-acre Far North Bicentennial Park to experience true wilderness within Anchorage. Though the area looks very wild, a few locations near Campbell Creek had substantial development during World War II when the nearby Campbell Airstrip was readied for use by fighter planes.
Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site is made up of 113 acres, and includes one of the most visited spots in the Copper River Basin, Worthington Glacier. There are trails, picnic sites, and picnic shelters within the roadside park, along with water and restrooms. Make sure to stop at milepost 28.7 on the Richardson Highway to view this favorite glacier, or take a short walk to More...
Take a stroll down the boardwalk as it winds along the river. There are several interpretive signs with information about fishing, dall sheep, rafting and boat safety. You'll also find access to Pioneer Village where you can pan for gold at Prospector John's Authentic Gold Panning.
The 40-acre Karen Hornaday Park is the new favorite spot for families in Homer. BBQ grills and picnic facilities are available for summer gatherings, as well as public restrooms. For those looking to relax, benches offer views of Kachemak Bay and surrounding mountains and glaciers.
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the site of the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. Each November, up to 3,600 bald eagles descend upon this 48,000-acre preserve to take advantage of a late-season run of chum salmon. There’s a roadside pull-off at 19-mile Haines Highway with informational displays and a two-mile paved trail along the Chilkat River. Much of the preserve is inaccessible, but in the summer, rafting and jet boat tours are a great way to see more than you would along the road
Chilkat State Park, seven miles south of Haines, is less visited than Chilkoot Lake, probably because it’s further from town and the road is gravel. But don’t let that stop you. The park is quiet, it’s one of the best local areas to look for moose, and the view of the Rainbow Glacier—a hanging glacier with a huge waterfall dropping from its face—is world-class.
Located on Santa Claus Lane, the Terry Miller Memorial Park features a picnic area, children's playground, a spacious gazebo donated by the North Pole Rotary Club and an up close view of the Alaska Railroad as it passes by.
Terry Miller, a former Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, moved to the last frontier at seven years old and has the distinct honor of being the son of Con More...
One of the easiest beaches to access from town, this park has a nice overlook and excellent waterfront with picnic sites. In late July through September, you can fish from the beach for silver and pink salmon. Wander down the beach to a small creek (on the left side) that is filled with salmon in late summer. Surfers ride storm waves here, and some locals even scuba dive in the cove More...
Here's another great stop to take in the scenic beauty of the mountains and the Turnagain Arm. Here you can access the Bird to Gird paved multi use pathway. From this spot it's a six-mile journey down the trail, which features stunning views and interpretive signs. Take a walk or a bike ride to Girdwood for a bite to eat.
And don't forget to look for Beluga More...
In 1984 when the Performing Arts Center was being built plans were included for Town Square. In the summer it is a good spot to sit and take a break. In the winter, the trees are strung with christmas lights and an ice skating rink is created at the center of the park.
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.
Two lefts past the Alaska Marine Highway Juneau Terminus is the road to Auke Bay Recreational Area. Inside, you’ll find Point Louisa, a traditional fishing ground for the Auke people (a subgroup of Southeast Alaska’s First People, the Tlingit). Point Louisa is a good fishing spot with good water views, covered picnic areas, and gently sloping gravel beach make it a family favorite.
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.
This is a popular boat launch for drift boaters fishing for king salmon. The Kasilof River red salmon dipnet fishery is here, but only open to Alaska residents. It's worth a look if you've never seen dipnetters in action before. There are 16 campsites, water, tables, toilets, hiking trails, a boat launch and fishing.
Once the administrative headquarters for an empire stretching from Asia to California and Hawaii, Castle Hill today is little more than a grassy hill with a few interpretive signs, a modest stonewall, several old cannons, and a few flagpoles. But when you visit the top of this hill, you’re standing on rich historic grounds. Archeological excavations have unearthed over 300,000 More...
The large parking area opens to trails in the summer and snowmobiling and ski terrain in the winter. The popular trail to Pyramid Mountain starts here; this is the highest mountain close to town. If you tackle this hike, you’re in for a climb, but a large portion of the trail is in the alpine, with beautiful flowers and tundra. You’ll be climbing 2,400 feet in elevation in More...
This is an easy two-mile trail through meadows and forests that’s great for hiking in the summer and skiing during the winter. In summer, the highlight is fields of wildflowers, especially from June through August: Lupine, Wild Geranium, False Hellebore, Monk’s Hood, Chocolate Lily, Fireweed, and much more.
Once a small dairy owned by a couple named Creamer, this land is now an extraordinary wildlife refuge. More than 100 species of birds and mammals call this wilderness home (sandhill cranes and mallards show up all summer), and there are miles of trails that meander through a variety of habitats.
With just a short walk from the parking area you will find a beautiful 20 foot water fall. The trailhead starts off paralleling the Turnagain Arm and there are a number of small trails that go to different lookouts. Take the trail to the left for a short distance and you will find the McHugh Trail branching off to the right. The trail zig-zags upward through the woods and provides ever better views of the Turnagain Arm and mountains.
The park has a few campsites, but no outhouses. The dock at the park provides public access to Mosquito Lake, which offers great fishing, especially for cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char. The lake fills with migrating ducks in the spring and fall, and trumpeter swans use the lake as a stopover on their migrations. Up to 80 swans have been seen at one time on the lake. In the winter, locals like to ice fish and cross-country ski on the lake and nearby areas.
Cuddy Family Park was a labor of love for many volunteers for years. The park was established in the early 1980’s. But it was only when the speed skating oval was built out in 2011 and the playground added in 2013 that Midtown Anchorage gained its own park on par with Westchester Lagoon in downtown.
5th Avenue Park is where you will find the famous red and white striped North Pole. This is one of two poles made to place at the geographic North Pole where its twin still lays today. 5th Avenue Park features a playground, picnic tables, pavilion and access to Beaver Springs Nature Trail.