The Municipality of Anchorage is an eclectic city in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness that sports a frontier spirit. Surrounded by six mountain ranges and blessed with a maritime climate, the Port of Anchorage is active all year with recreation, sightseeing, and wildlife opportunities for adventurous travelers.
Alaska’s Native peoples present a rich heritage and survival skills that give the State much of its character. Their storytelling, songs, dances, and art make Anchorage a popular tourist destination. The Dena’ina people are indigenous to Anchorage, and visitors will enjoy learning about their subsistence fishing and hunting lifestyle, their customs, and their traditions.
Glaciers cover almost 30 thousand square miles in Alaska, and they are a favorite attraction for visitors. The Portage Glacier is just 50 miles south of the city. You can see two active volcanoes from downtown Anchorage, including North America’s highest point (Mount McKinley).
You can also witness the mysterious Northern Lights from Anchorage. The best time for viewing the Aurora Borealis is in winter and spring, especially when sub-zero temperatures are complemented by moonless skies. Many area hotels offer a “northern lights wake-up call” for those who want to be alerted to the lights.
The Port of Anchorage offers some “must-see” attractions for travelers. The Alaska Native Heritage Center features native dance performances and other events, including a trail around the lake that shows different aspects of native Alaskan cultures. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage is a refuge for injured, ill, and orphaned animals including bears, eagles, elk, bison, moose, and many more. Visitors drive through the park to view the wildlife in large fenced habitat areas. The Anchorage Museum of History and Art features traveling exhibits and local art as well as a fabulous exhibit on Alaskan history.
The area around the Port of Anchorage is rich with wildlife, and visitors can easily find bears, Dall sheep, waterfowl, and eagles in either the Denali or Katmai National Parks, along Seward Highway, or in Potter’s Marsh. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail offers some of the best walking and biking trails in Alaska, which is saying quite a lot.
Of course, the Port of Anchorage offers many opportunities for snow-boarding and skiing. You can get information on nearby cross-country ski trails from the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. Several ski resorts near Anchorage offer opportunities for novices and advanced skiers. Among them are the Alyeska Resort on the Seward Highway, the Hilltop Ski Area about 15 minutes from downtown in the Chugach foothills, and Alpenglow at Arctic Valley. The Chugach Powder Guides offer a professional guide for advanced skiers and boarders to enjoy snow-cat skiing.
The Port of Anchorage has long been a challenge for cruises because it’s upriver from the sea. But in the past few years, more cruise lines have moved to a new facility at Whittier, a beautiful drive about 1 1/2-hours from the city where you can see the Portage Glacier and Cook Inlet. You can find a list of fantastic cruises visiting the Port of Anchorage on the web at Cruise Compete.