Alaska is considered America’s last frontier, where square miles of land almost outnumber people. Even in its largest city, Anchorage, you can expect to encounter scores of wild animals, skyscraping glaciers, and vast parklands. Take note of these fun facts before making a trip north:
Moose are everywhere.
Most people know that Alaska is filled with iconic wildlife, but it isn’t until they touch down in Anchorage that they realize just how closely humans and wild animals coexist. It’s estimated that as many as 1,500 moose live in and around the city. Residents are accustomed to seeing their antlered neighbors tromping over their front lawns, pilfering backyard garden veggies, and hoofing it along the city’s paved bike and walking trails. While moose are the undisputed stars, they’re far from the only critters with Anchorage residency. The city and surrounding area are home to eagles, Dall sheep, and bears. Migratory birds flock to the coastline by the thousands, and streams with salmon empty into the ocean for beluga whales to pursue. For an even closer look, head to the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Both are home to native animals and are places where you can learn about their lives and habitats.
There’s a state park that’s larger than life.
The majority of U.S. National Park acreage is in Alaska (55 million out of 84 million acres), which means that many visitors come to check off a national park or two from their bucket list. However, Alaska’s state parks are nothing to sneeze at, either. At half a million acres filled with 8,000-foot peaks, Chugach State Park rivals some national parks in size. East of Anchorage, the park is a part of the Chugach Mountains, where locals and visitors love to traverse 300 miles of trails. The closest trailheads are only 20 minutes from downtown. A significant portion of the mountains are preserved as wilderness, with a national forest that is the second largest in the U.S.
Glaciers can be seen by land, air, and sea.
It’s thought that as much as 5 percent of Alaska is covered by glaciers. Visitors need look no further than Anchorage to see some of them. About 60 named glaciers ring the city, spread across the Chugach Mountains and coastal waters. By land, air, and sea, tours and excursions explore Anchorage’s icy titans. Trips to Matanuska Glacier and Spencer Glacier let travelers walk up to the glacier’s face and put their boots atop the ice. Deep in the mountains, flight tours land on glacial Lake George and atop Colony or Knik Glaciers. Day cruises sail to the face of tidewater glaciers tucked into Blackstone Bay, Harriman Fjord, and other hidden gems of Prince William Sound.
Spend time in Anchorage and you’ll see landscape wonders and wildlife worthy of a nature documentary. And when the day ends, you’ll find all the comforts of home to keep you well rested (and well fed). Plan your Alaska-size adventure.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: March 2018