How to Go On a Wildlife-Watching Walking Tour of Anchorage
Anchorage is home to an abundance of Alaska wildlife. Approximately 1,500 moose wander the municipality between the Knik River to the north and Portage to the south. Pods of beluga whales swim along the city’s Cook Inlet coast. Wild salmon pack local streams, bald eagles nest in neighborhoods, migratory birds flock to scenic shorelines, and you might spot a bear or a lynx ambling along a secluded trail or roadside.
Alaska animals are so prolific, in fact, chances are good you can spot some of them while exploring on foot from downtown Anchorage. Enjoy a self-guided walking (or biking) tour, and make plans to safely encounter some of Alaska’s most memorable wildlife.
1) Ship Creek
Head to the Ship Creek Overlook to see king salmon making their way upstream in the summer, and anglers casting lines in hopes of bringing one home for dinner. They’re not the only ones; watch for bald eagles soaring overhead, or perched in the trees over the water. For a chance to see occasional beluga whales or seals, head toward the pedestrian-accessible N. C Street bridge and the mouth of the creek when the Cook Inlet tide is high.
2) Westchester Lagoon
From Ship Creek, head back toward downtown, following W. 2nd Avenue as it curves up past the Alaska Railroad Depot and past the Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument. Follow the sidewalk to the beginning of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, located near the intersection of 2nd Avenue and H Street. Follow the paved path approximately 1.6 miles to Westchester Lagoon, where sharp-eyed wildlife watchers might spot everything from migratory birds to beavers, moose, and other animals.
3) Optional detour: Fish Creek Estuary
For another scenic overlook and opportunity to see migratory birds, moose, or the occasional meandering bruin, continue half a mile down the Coastal Trail to the Fish Creek Estuary.
4) Star the Reindeer
Navigate back downtown to see Anchorage’s most recognizable reindeer resident, Star. From Westchester Lagoon, follow the sidewalk four blocks east along W. 15th Avenue to Inlet Place, then one block north to W. 13th Avenue. Stroll three blocks east (several restaurants and cafes along the way offer ideal stops for a quick lunch or coffee break), then head north. Located just across the street from the Delaney Park Strip at the southeast corner of I Street and 10th Avenue, Star the Reindeer’s outdoor enclosure gives passersby an occasional glimpse of the city’s unofficial mascot; you might also spot them strolling along the Delaney Park Strip while out for a walk with their owner, Albert Whitehead.
Star the Reindeer has been an Anchorage icon for more than half a century — in fact, the current Star is the seventh reindeer to bear the name.