Best Alaska Wildlife Viewing Spots
Viewing Alaska wildlife is as easy as it is unforgettable. Anchorage’s bears, moose, eagles and whales are never far from view. Knowing their hangouts can improve your odds for spotting them. Whether furry, feathered or finned, plenty of species run wild nearby. Here are some favorite hot spots.
Point Woronzof Road
This scenic area on the western edge of the city is a prime place for watching planes come and go from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport — and it's also a great space for spotting moose browsing along the side of the road.
Moose, bears, and eagles all enjoy this vast 1,400 acre city park. The network of trails in the park is huge, but even a drive in the park to the chalet often features a moose or even a black bear sighting.
Campbell Creek Estuary
The park became a local favorite soon after opening in 2013. The loop trail overlooks the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. The wetlands along the creek attract migrating sandhill cranes and resident moose.
Farther south and also part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Potter Marsh plays host to Arctic terns, trumpeter swans, and eagles, just to name a few. Beavers, moose and other mammals enjoy the wetlands as well. Boardwalks keep visitors dry as they walk out over salmon spawning areas.
Eagle River Nature Center
As the name hints, Eagle River Nature Center is hopping with critters and the educational programs often focus on wildlife. Eagles, moose, beavers and bears are regulars along Eagle River in a spectacular valley setting.
Enjoy a drive south on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm, where each mile seems to bring a new species. Rocky cliffs above draw Dall sheep, and fish running in the waters below attract beluga whales. When the tide is out, eagles often congregate on the tidal mudflats hoping to score an easy meal. As many as 30 are sometimes seen together, their white heads a stark contrast against the muted glacial silt.
King and silver salmon return to the downtown stream every summer. Fisherman swarm the mouth of the river, but the viewing platforms farther upstream are off limits to anglers and a great spot to see salmon. Humans aren’t the only one’s fishing; eagles occasionally hang out in the branches on the banks. For a chance to see salmon (and other species) in a different environment, follow the Ship Creek Trail east along the water to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, approximately 2.5 miles away.
The Best Times of Day
Animals like moose and bears tend to be most active in the morning and evening. Beluga whales are close to shore all summer long, and follow fish runs in the spring and summer near Bird Point, Twentymile River, and, of course, Beluga Point.
Guaranteed Wildlife Viewing Near Anchorage
On a time crunch? Have an animal you didn’t see yet? There is a sure way to find your "must-see" species. The Alaska Zoo is a perfect home for arctic and subarctic animals in south Anchorage. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center creates a fantastic natural backdrop for wildlife photography, and the center serves as home for orphaned or injured animals. There are also many sightseeing tours that head out in search of Alaska critters; the pros know where to go.