Vacation Chronicles: Anchorage, Alaska
The one word that comes to mind when I think of Alaska is WILD. That might just be some very successful state marketing, but it truly is the most wild place I’ve ever been. Moose wander down the highways, bears hang out on bike paths around cities, whales enjoy the warm shallow waters of ports; when you’re in Alaska, there is simply no escaping nature.
Last summer we spent 10 days visiting family in Anchorage. Since it was a family visit we stayed on the tamer side of the wilderness and explored the city and surrounding area, with a quick trip out to Denali for the most epic 8 hour bus ride I’ve ever been on (I’m planning another Alaska post soon, I’ll have more details about our time in Denali there!). We by no means exhausted the list of things to do, but if you’re in Anchorage and wrestling grizzly bears isn’t your thing, here are some other activities the city and its surrounding area has to offer:
Eagle River Nature Center
The Eagle River Nature Center was established to educate the public about the preservation of nature through educational programs and easy access to trails. Not only were the trails easy (we were told it was a hike but it was more of a nature walk), but the views along the way were absolutely incredible! There were educational posters about native species all along the trail, and a plethora of wildlife to be heard and seen; we saw a moose about 100 yards off the trail and saw evidence (scat) of recent bear activity. I would absolutely recommend the Eagle River Nature Center as a beautiful, fun and safe way to experience the Alaskan wilderness.
An afternoon at the Anchorage Museum in downtown Anchorage is an afternoon well spent in my book. The Rasmuson Center plays host to a lot of activities and rotating exhibits featuring local artists, Alaskan centered installments and community programs. The Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska exhibit is a permanent installment in the museum, and it provides a very in-depth look at the history and culture of Alaskan Natives. I had no idea there were so many native tribes, and learning how each of them used the natural resources available to them in different ways was fascinating. End the day with a glass of wine at the restaurant attached to the museum, and you’ve got yourself a chill and educational day.
Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk
Potter Marsh is a wonderful area near downtown Anchorage that allows visitors to experience wildlife from the safety of a boardwalk built over the marsh. It is popular as a bird-watching spot, and provides a habitat for fish, river otters and a ton of other wildlife. We had a particularly memorable experience when a young bull moose walked right under our feet in his quest for food (or maybe a girlfriend, I’m not familiar with moose calls). We also saw river otters busily prepping their home on the water, and a ton fish and geese enjoying the last rays of summer sun. Whether or not you are an avid bird watcher, a trip to Potter Marsh is an excellent way to wind down a day in Anchorage.
As I mentioned, this list is in no way exhaustive of all that Anchorage has to offer. The city is full of cultural and educational resources, and the surrounding area is a haven for nature lovers. Accessibility to the great outdoors is what makes Alaska so special, and I’m looking forward to our next visit!