Anchorage borders Chugach State Park, America’s third largest state park, and has over 225 greenbelts, local parks, other natural creek corridors within the Anchorage area which allow seasonal movement of animals throughout the area. As a result, living among us within the Anchorage area are several thousand moose and sheep, a couple hundred bears, and many other animals. Most residents of Anchorage have moose regularly visit their back yards and some residents see bear, coyote, fox and an occasional wolf in their neighborhoods, on the golf courses, or while biking along a local trail. It may be a little more difficult for visitors to observe our abundant wildlife, but it is possible given the time and opportunity.
Visitor’s who are staying in downtown and have limited time and transportation options will likely have their best opportunity to see wildlife along Anchorage’s Coastal Trail, a paved trail that starts in downtown Anchorage near Elderberry Park and ends at Kincaid Park. If you want to experience the whole trail, you can rent bicycles at several locations in downtown. Among possible sightings are moose, beluga whales, fox, and many types of water fowl. Another option for downtown visitors is take a stroll down to Ship Creek, home to one of Anchorage’s salmon runs during the summer months where an occasional seal, bear and, of course, salmon are seen fishing among the humans. The Comfort Inn is a great hotel to stay in if you are seeking to stay in downtown as it is located right on Ship Creek.
Visitors with a car rental have a lot more opportunity to experience Anchorage’s many parks and trails where wildlife may be sighted. A popular trip for locals and visitors alike is to drive up to Chugach State Park’s Glen Alps entrance. This scenic spot provides excellent vista’s of South-central Alaska, and has several excellent hiking options, including a climb up Flat Top Mountain. Wildlife such as sheep, goats, moose, and bears are always a possibility to be seen, particularly if you bring your binoculars. Other popular spots within the Anchorage area where we sometimes go to see wildlife are at Potter Marsh, Eklutna Lake, and at the Eagle River Nature Center. Keep in mind that running into a bear is always a remote possibility, so the Municipality of Anchorage suggests you check out their “Bear Facts“.
If you’re unsuccessful at finding wildlife during your stay in Anchorage, take a drive south 47 miles along the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Highway to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The Center is a non-profit wildlife refuge dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Some of the animals such as bears, moose, wood bison, and other animals are there temporarily until they are released while others are provided a permanent home if rehabilitation to the wild is not an option. Chances are, you’ll see wildlife along the way!