“Of all the world’s cities, Anchorage uniquely combines the conveniences of the modern world with a rugged, natural environment that has all but vanished from populated regions of the world. In Anchorage you can watch moose in the morning and ballet in the afternoon. You can take a short flight to see some of the most dramatic mountain scenery on earth, then be back in town for fresh seafood at a five-star restaurant. Anchorage is an urban enclave surrounded by wilderness. Within a few miles of downtown, you can encounter scenes more wild than you’ll find in most national parks: wolf pack roaming through a park, rushing mountain streams, and city parks.... The world’s second highest tides surge against its shores, and North America’s highest peak glimmers in the distance.”
Things to see and do:
Earthquake Park: This park is set in the woods where an entire neighborhood slid into the ocean during last century’s most powerful earthquake. Walk trails and read signs that explain the destruction and the stupendous natural forces that caused it.
Lake Hood Floatplane Base: Watch floatplanes—as many as 800 per day—splash down and lift off at the world’s busiest floatplane base lake. Stroll the grassy shores lined with with planes, from rusting relics to brightly painted beauties to vintage models that float on their bellies.
AK Aviation Heritage Museum: Learn about Alaska’s aviation history and the daring bush pilots who opened up the Last Frontier. See rare aircraft dating back to World War I, historic photographs, artifacts, maps, newspaper accounts, aviators’ clothing, and films.
Alaska Native Heritage Center: The Heritage Center is a centerpeice of native life in Anchorage. Learn about Eskimos, indians, and Aleuts, watch traditional dance, listen to storytelling, meet carvers, and tour dwellings.
Alaska Botanical Gardens: Stroll through this 110-acr garden grove, a former military training site. One nature trail winds through different native tree types, a bog, meadow and creek. Another displays common wildflowers and boulders carried by glaciers.
Alaska Zoo: Enjoy the wooded hillside setting while getting close-up views of the many animals of the north. Be sure to see polar bear Ahpun and brown bear Oreo.
Grizzly Junction: Alaska Wildberry Products and the Sourdough Mining Company Restaurant have created a mini-mecca set along the Campbell Creek walk/bike trail. Identify wild berries, see baby reindeer, tour the candy kitchens and thw word’s largest chocolate waterfall, dine in a replica old mill house and enjoy the storytelling of Dusty Sourdough. Phone: 907-563-2272.
Ship Creek Salmon Viewing: Watch salmon jump up the dam. A nearby hatchery releases a quarter of a million smolt each year. They migrate to the oceans, then return two to five years later by sense of smell—to the delight of local anglers who catch up to 5,000 per year in the world’s premier urban king salmon fishery.
Parks and Trails: Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is Anchorage’s most popular walking, biking and jogging trail. It winds along Knik Arm 11 miles from Kincaid Park
Chester Creek Trail follows a flat, forested, mountain-fed creek six miles from Westchester Lagoon, near downtown, to Russian Jack Springs Park. Cross waterfowl-filled ponds and pass through grassy parks.
Flattop Mountain at the Glen Alps Trailhead is Alaska’s most visited peak. Ascend the 1.5 mile, 1,350 vertical trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit in about an hour and take in panoramic views from Mt. McKinley to the Aleutian Islands
Kincaid Park offers the easiest way to get deep in the woods right in town. This 1,400 acre forest sits atop an old glacial moraine and offers one of America’s top trail systems as well as Anchorage’s largest moose population.
Turnagain Arm Trail, ten miles south of downtown, traverses mountainsides above the Seward Highway for 9.4 miles. This relatively easy hike offers breathtaking views of Turnagain Arm.
Eagle River Nature Center, forty minutes from downtown, is a gateway to Chugach State Park and a glacial river valley as wild and dramatic as any in Alaska. Enjoy an easy three mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-valley five miles to see plunging waterfalls and 3,000 foot cliffs.
Logistics: Ted Stevens International Airport (PANC) is a US Customs port of entry, and some Cirrus pilots might even enjoy slotting in between the dozens of 747s that land there every day. Merrill Field (PAMR) is for normal general aviation traffic. Note that Elmendorf Air Force Base is immediately to the north, so expect instructions from ATC on both arrival and departure to avoid its airspace. The Anchorage area is designated as Class C airspace, so VFR pilots should adhere to the Anchorage Terminal Area requirements.