Top 3 Activities For Anchorage Travelers

Looking for something to do in Anchorage Alaska? Maybe you are new to the area. Try these 3 options for a full day of fun and scenery. More »

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Top 3 Activities For Anchorage Travelers

Anchorage Alaska is an urban area with more than 380,000 people living in the metropolitan area. However, unlike other urban areas, Anchorage is unique in that it is completely surrounded with nature and wide open wilderness spaces. To the north and south are two arms of the beautiful waters of the Cook Inlet. To the east are the Chugach Mountains and the Chugach State Park, the third largest state park in the United States. The park is actually located within the boundaries of the city. Ten more enormous national and state parks are within an easy day trip away from Anchorage.

It is easy to see why the most popular activities when visiting Anchorage Alaska are all nature related. Below, you will find three of the most popular nature viewing activities in Anchorage.

1.) Viewing the Glaciers

Portage Glacier AnchorageViewing glaciers is the number one activity of Alaskan tourists statewide. The glaciers in and near Anchorage are the most easily accessible in the entire state. In fact, there are 60 easily accessible glaciers from Anchorage. Several restaurants in the city afford an amazing view of glaciers. However, if you want to see glaciers up close and personal, the best way to do this is to take a glacier cruise. You can elect to take an all day glacier cruise, or if time is limited, you can take a quick one hour tour. On the longer glacier tours, you can get into the Prince William Sound or the Kenai Fjords. Also popular on these glacier cruises are the seabird rookeries and the marine mammals. Remember too, hearing the ice break away from the massive glaciers is as popular as actually seeing the glaciers and the best way to do this is by taking a cruise. The amazing sound starts as a crescendo of a low rumbling culminating in the sound the ice makes as it plunges into the waters. You can also take helicopter rides or plane rides to get an aerial view of glaciers. Some planes are equipped with a type of ski and can actually land on a glacier so you can get out and walk around. This is popular on four glaciers: Eldridge, Kahiltna, Pika, and Ruth. For the more adventuresome, you can actually climb glaciers or hike across a glacier.

2.) Experiencing the Northern Lights

Norther Lights AnchorageOne of the most awe-inspiring experiences you can have in Alaska is experiencing the northern lights, also called the Aurora Borealis. When undulating curtains of shimmering iridescent light fill the vast dark Alaskan sky, it is an ethereal experience you will never forgot.

The aurora comes in multiple colors: yellow, green, blue, red, and purple and everyone has their favorite. The northern lights are formed by ionized gas particles interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field but as you watch the glowing light dance and ripple, you probably won’t be thinking of science as you are watching this jaw dropping show.

The Japanese believe that if you conceive a baby under the northern lights, your child will have good luck. Regardless of your culture, experiencing the northern lights with your partner can be a very romantic experience. Watching the northern lights is so popular in Anchorage, many of the hotels have a wake up call service for when the northern lights really get going.

There is also a northern lights forecast, along with the weather forecast, in the local Anchorage newspaper. The best time for viewing the northern lights tends to be around midnight and when the ambient temperature is below zero.

3.) Riding the Alyeska Aerial Tram

alyeska tram near AnchorageRiding the Alyeska Aerial Tram to the top of Mount Alyeska offers stunning panoramic views. You can see the majestic mountain peaks of the Chugach Range and hanging glaciers. In the summer, you can actually view bears and moose on the mountainside. At the top, there is an observation deck with more spectacular panoramic views. There are also two restaurants, Glacier Express and Seven Glaciers, serving Alaskan food such as fresh caught seafood and moose burgers. There is also a very popular bar. The observation deck is the perfect spot to view a colorful sunset and catch a kiss from that special someone. Telescopes are available for wildlife enthusiasts. You can also use this as the starting point for several hikes, including a hike onto a glacier. The Alyeska Aerial Tram is run by the Alyeska Resort but you do not need to stay there to ride the tram. The tram starts at 306 feet (93 meters) above sea level and rises an additional 2,025 feet (617 meters) for a total height of 2,334 feet (711 meters).