Eagle River’s first large growth spurt occurred in the 1930s after construction of a highway linked it to Anchorage. Much like Anchorage, the population of Eagle River grew rapidly during World War II, the post war years and during construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Eagle River has been part of the Municipality of Anchorage since 1975, but the fact that many people choose to live in Eagle River and work in Anchorage hints at some of the hidden appeal of the community. It’s one of several stops in the area for nature lovers.
With looping trails from three quarters of a mile to six miles long, access to 25 miles of the historic Iditarod Trail, an interpretive center and seasonal educational programs, the Eagle River Nature Center is a great introduction to Alaska's hiking trails. For an overnight adventure, reserve a yurt – a semi-permanent tent – and explore the trails to the fullest. For a shorter hike with a fantastic ending, check out Thunderbird Falls. Just 12 miles north of Eagle River on the Glenn Highway, the two mile, out-and-back trail is well maintained and ends at a roaring waterfall.
Community celebrations and events have a small-town feel but big time fun. Eagle River’s New Years Eve festivities get an early start on the New Year. Summer is packed with entertainment. The Scottish Highland Games take over Lions Park on the fourth Saturday of June. Scottish music fills the air for athletic events including the caber toss, as well as dance, food and kilt-clad fun.
Eagle River celebrates the nation’s independence with a parade down the Old Glenn Highway, the city’s main thoroughfare, on the Fourth of July. But the city’s best-known event is still a few days away. The community of Eagle River celebrates with five days of fun at Bear Paw Festival in mid-July. A parade winds through the heart of town, the best salmon recipes go head-to-head at the cook-off, and piscatorial agility is on display with the slippery salmon Olympics.