Anchorage may be home to around 300,000 people, but it’s the animal population that really makes the city such an amazing place to visit. Among the Alaska wildlife local to the area are thousands of moose and Dall sheep, hundreds of bird species including dozens of nesting bald eagles, as well as brown and black bears, beluga whales, beavers, and more. For top places to see wildlife without leaving town, keep these popular viewing spots in mind.
Chester Creek Trail
This six-mile swath of greenbelt runs from Westchester Lagoon to Goose Lake and Russian Jack Park. For another amazing opportunity to see wildlife in Anchorage, look for moose from Lake Otis Boulevard tunnel going east. The next time you book cheap flights to Alaska, take some time to check out the beautiful snow-filled landscapes and enchanting bridges. You won’t want to miss this photo op.
Chugach State Park
Moose are in abundance in Powerline Pass valley and it’s not all that rare to see grizzlies or black bears too. Wolves roam the more secluded parts of the valley. The area is a good one for catching a glimpse of Alaska’s state bird, the ptarmigan.
Johns Park and Coastal Bluffs
Nestled snug into a south Anchorage neighborhood, Johns Park is a great place for birding. At the edge of the marshes along the bluffs, shorebirds such as geese and sandhill cranes may be viewed. Look for nesting bald eagles at the top of the very same bluffs.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
When hiking or cycling along this popular coastal trail keep an eye out for moose, bears, beluga whales, and eagles.
Westchester Lagoon is an excellent area for bird watching, especially in spring and summer. Birders shouldn’t be surprised to encounter common loons, red-necked grebes, and wigeons along with several varieties of ducks, geese, and gulls.
Goose Lake is located in the center of Anchorage and may just be one of the city’s best birding destinations. Visitors can get a remarkably close view of a variety of bird species by renting a paddleboat and heading out onto the water. Respecting posted signage will keep both birds and visitors safe while birdwatchers observe the Pacific loons. These birds are especially numerous during the summer months when they use the lake as a nesting ground, making summer a great time to see wildlife in Anchorage. Other birds that can be seen at Goose Lake include American wigeons, Canada Geese, and herring gulls.
Kincaid is home to a diverse population of wildlife, thanks to its variety of habitats. In summer and fall, visitors can expect to see black bears in the densely wooded areas of the park. During the spring and winter, snowshoe hare activity in the park peaks. Moose can be seen all year long, as the adult males spar in the fall and calves are born in late spring. The park is also home to bald eagles, sandhill cranes, woodpeckers, and Olive-Sided Flycatchers, making it a can’t-miss destination for avid birders.
Located in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, its well-maintained wooden walkway gives visitors an easy way to watch the marsh’s active wildlife. Birders will especially enjoy walking through Potter Marsh, where they can spot species like canvasback ducks, Canada geese, eagles, horned grebes, trumpeter swans, and Arctic terns. Fishing is prohibited in Potter Marsh, but visitors are welcome to watch Chinook, humpback, and coho salmon spawn during the summer months. A variety of mammals can also be spotted in the marsh, including moose, beaver, muskrat, and snowshoe hares.
Eagle River Nature Center
Due to its location alongside Chugach State Park, Eagle River is home to a wide variety of Alaskan wildlife. One trail from the Nature Center leads visitors directly to an area where they can observe beavers as they work on their dams. A second trail leads to a viewing platform ideally positioned for watching salmon spawn in August. Visitors may also see black and brown bears, beaver, mountain goats, moose, and bald eagles while hiking on the Nature Center’s trails.
Skip Creek is a favorite area of fishermen and shorebirds alike. Plovers, turnstones, sandpipers, green-winged teals, eagles, and godwits are just a few of the bird species that either call this area home year-round or migrate to it during the spring and fall. The area is also a well-known salmon run, with a hatchery nearby. Visitors can expect to see large numbers of king salmon (also known as Chinook salmon) spawning in summer and coho salmon (silver salmon) doing the same in early fall.
Do you know of any other places to catch a glimpse of wildlife in Anchorage? Tell us about it below!