It is amazing how much Alaska you can pack into a few short hours in Anchorage. If you’re up against the clock or just want to add a little extra to your plan for the day, there are plenty of ways to dive headfirst into the journey in no time flat.
First, get the lay of the land with a city tour. A one-hour ride with Anchorage City Trolley Tours hits highlights like Earthquake Park and Lake Hood, the world’s busiest floatplane base. Tours depart from the corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street.
Bear Square has a whole fleet of Segway’s for zippy one- or two-hour downtown tours. If you want to ditch the motor but keep the two-wheeled fun, rent a bike instead. With the tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Ship Creek Trail and Chester Creek Trail all nearby, Anchorage’s trails are closer than you imagine.
Alaska is synonymous with wildlife viewing. Moose are a regular sight even in the city. If time is short and you want to see Alaska’s menagerie without mounting an expedition, head to the Alaska Zoo to find moose, wolves, eagles, owls and black, brown and polar bears. Alaska animals reign supreme, but critters from similar climes also reside at the zoo, so don’t miss the Amur tigers, Tibetan yaks or the Bactrian camel.
With 50 of the most accessible glaciers nearby, Alaska’s frozen wonders are close. Many companies offer day cruises past dozens of glaciers. But if you’re pressed for time, m/v Ptarmigan can have you to the face of Portage Glacier and back in just an hour.
Fishing in Anchorage is easy, too. Ship Creek is one of the most popular salmon fisheries. King and silver salmon get all the attention during the summer, but the rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and grayling in local lakes can be just as sporty. Not sure where to start? Alaska Tackle Rental and the Bait Shack have licenses, gear and the inside scoop on hotspots and techniques. You’ll have Alaska fish on the banks in no time!
Fish aren’t the only flashy thing in the stream either. Just south of the city, two goldmines have lured prospectors for more than 100 years and can set up everything you need to give it a try. Indian Valley Mine’s historic buildings are among the oldest in the area and certainly put you in the gold rush mindset, and Crow Creek Mine in Girdwood welcomes professional miners and newcomers alike to one of the most productive mines in the region’s history.
Whether you measure your time in Anchorage with a calendar or a stopwatch, adding a little more fun to the visit doesn’t have to mean a big time comittment!
By Jack Bonney, Visit Anchorage, for Coast Magazine, July 2012 issue.