In Anchorage, iconic Alaska wildlife abounds: Take a spin around the city on any given afternoon and you might spot belugas swimming through the waves of Cook Inlet, moose browsing through tall grass on the side of the road, or a bald eagle circling over a city salmon stream. You could see a black bear ambling through the trees at a local park, or find Dall sheep scaling sheer cliffs on the south side of town. Bring your camera and make plans to do some wildlife watching – these six neighborhood areas offer some of the best opportunities to spot wild animals in Anchorage.

  1. Chugiak/Eagle River: Head to the Eagle River Nature Center, where the .75-mile Rodak Nature Loop leads to a salmon viewing deck and beaver viewing platform. Watch for migratory birds and bald eagles. Moose and bears are also found around here, so make sure to keep your eyes open and give all animals plenty of space. 

  2. Northeast: At Baxter Bog Park, the Alicia Iden Nature Trail provides a chance to spot moose, birds, and other wildlife from the lakeside path and a viewing platform. For a chance to see black bears in the summer, head up Arctic Valley Road, where Northeast neighborhoods meet the Chugach Mountains – lumbering bruins (and the occasional porcupine) can sometimes be spotted foraging through the bushes along this winding seven-mile road.

  3. Hillside: Everything from moose and bears to lynx, wild salmon, bald eagles, and beyond can be found in Anchorage’s Hillside neighborhoods. Stroll the boardwalk at Potter Marsh to see migratory birds and spawning salmon (in season). In autumn, go to Glen Alps for a chance to see moose gathering in the Chugach State Park foothills. On a tight timeline? This neighborhood is also home to the Alaska Zoo, where guaranteed animal encounters await.

  4. Girdwood: Watch for Dall sheep climbing the rocks above the Seward Highway on the drive south to Girdwood. Stop at a roadside pullout to spot beluga whales in Turnagain Arm in the summer and early fall. Walk Girdwood’s Winner Creek Trail for a chance to spot moose or a black bear moseying through the brush, then head to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (just a few miles down the highway) to get up close and personal with wood bison, grizzly bears, wolves, and more.

  5. Sand Lake: The Sand Lake neighborhood’s sprawling Kincaid Park is a prime place for seeing moose in the wild. Follow the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and watch for moose meandering through the surrounding woods, then take the beach access path to enter the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge and spot shorebirds, occasional passing pods of beluga whales, and possible black bears.

  6. Spenard/Turnagain: See moose feeding along the road outside Point Woronzof Park. Watch for migratory birds at the Fish Creek Estuary. Find ducks, geese, and beavers at Northwood Park. Spenard and Turnagain are dotted with neighborhood green spaces, prime spots for spotting Alaska wildlife in the city.

No matter where you encounter wildlife in Anchorage, it’s important to give all animals plenty of space. Maintain a respectful distance, avoid startling or disturbing wildlife, and you’ll come away with incredible memories and unforgettable photos.