Anchorage, AK

The most crowded place in Alaska that isn’t even that crowded.

Anchorage is with 298,192 residents Alaska’s most populous city and, since Alaska is a very sparsely city, contains more than 40% of the state’s total population. Only New York City has a higher percentage of residents.

The city is located in the south-central portion of the state. Due to its location on Earth equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9.5 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international flights.

Even though Anchorage is the most populated city in the state of Alaska, it has a huge variety of wildlife. Approximately 250 black bears and 60 grizzly bears live in the area. Moose are also sighted commonly. In summer there is a population of 250 that increases during winter up to 1000 Moose. Along Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood live many Mountain goats and Dall sheep. Headed toward Kenai you can often see beluga whales in the water. A rare sighting are northern timber wolves which are supposed to have a population of approximately thirty animals here. Near wooded areas sighting of foxes as well as Lynxes are reported.  In the local creeks and rivers, beavers are often seen. Within the Municipality are a number of streams that host salmon runs.

Anchorage has a subarctic climate with strong maritime influences that lead to a relatively moderate climate. Most rain falls in late summer. In summer there are approximately 55 to 78°F (13 to 26°C) while temperatures in winter are average 5 to 30°F (-15 to 1°C). The frost-free season is approximately 101 days long. The average precipitation is 16.63in (422mm).

Anchorage is a city where I would spend maximum a day during my Alaska stay. Here is my list of things to do:


Downtown Anchorage.

Downtown is a very chill place to just walk around and shop. There are many small stores, snackbars, restaurants and gift shops as well as a mall. You can also find the office of many cruises or tours here where you can book activities.

My favourite gift store is Polar Bear Gifts (442W 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501). It is packed with Merchandise of Anchorage and practically entire Alaska. It is by far the cheapest gift store I have ever been in.

A thing you should definitely try here is a scoop from Wild Scoops (429 E St., Anchorage, AK 99501). Every flavour here has a story. Maybe it is a tale of Glacier Valley Farm carrots, Bridge Creek Birch Syrup or Summit Spice tea blends. They only use local, Alaskan ingredients directly knowing the farmer who grew the basil or the baker who shaped the cookies. They make their add-ins themselves to avoid artificial flavours.


Overlooks.

There are many Overlooks along te water to have a view on the water, the mountains and the city.

One of them is Point Woronzof Overlook (9700 Point Woronzof Rd, Anchorage, AK 99502). From here you’ll have a great view on the mountains and the water. If you are lucky you can even spot some whales in the water. Also you can watch the planes land and take off from Ted Steven International Airport.

Another great spot is Downtown Anchorage Viewpoint. From here you have a perfect picture of the skyline of Anchorage, the mountains and the water.


Flattop Mountain Trail.

This is Alaska’s most visited peak. And once you have done it, that will be no surprise. The short trail of 1.5 mi (2.5 km) will get you to the rocky, football field sized summit with panoramic views from Mt. McKinley (Denali) to the Aleutian Islands as well as a view from above on downtown Anchorage. If you are not in the mood for hiking there is also an Overlook a short walk from the parking lot.


Matanuska Glacier.

Located between the cities of Palmer and Glennallen and an hour drive north-east from Anchorage the largest glacier that can be reached by vehicle is perfectly visible from Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway in Glacier View.

The 10000 year old Glacier is approximately 26 miles long and 4 miles wide at its terminus. It is classified as a valley glacier, which means that it is a body of solid ice that flows like a river under its own weight through an existing valley. Luckily there has not been any big change in mass for almost two decades.

On mile 101 on Glenn Highway you will find the Manatuskan Glacier State Recreation Area. There is no direct access to the Glacier but from here you will have the perfect view on it. People who actually want to hike the Glacier have to drive to Mile 102 and park there. This privately owned park is the only access point. An entrance fee will be collected so you can park directly next to the glacier and start hiking it. For those who feel to unexperienced to do so on their own can book one of many tours that have guided hikes and the appropriate gear.


Newcomb Park Wasilla Lake

On our drive from Anchorage to Denali we explored this small park as a stop on our drive. It is nothing big but if you are also looking for a quick bathroom stop (or also food…there is a McDonalds really close) with a beautiful view then you should definitely consider Newcomb Park Wasilla Lake. It is practically just a park with a beautiful, crystal clear lake and the mountains in the background.

821-915 George Parks Hwy, AK 99654


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