Nestled between the Chugach Mountains and the shores of the Cook Inlet, Anchorage, AK, boasts a wealth of stunning natural beauty that attracts visitors from far and wide. From towering peaks to crystal-clear lakes, and everything in between, the city offers a breathtaking range of outdoor attractions for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Whether you’re looking to rent an apartment in Anchorage or are searching for a home in the area on Redfin, the city is sure to capture your heart and leave you awestruck by its natural and man-made wonders.
1. Alyeska Resort
Alyeska Resort is a popular ski resort located in Girdwood, Alaska, about 40 miles south of Anchorage. The resort features over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain, including steep chutes, glades, and groomed runs, as well as a terrain park and a beginner area.
Lynne Jablonski and Angie Oberlitner of MyAlaskaGuide remark, “Visitors and locals alike enjoy the thrill of taking the aerial tramway at Alyeska Resort to the 2,300-foot mark on Mount Alyeska. As you rise above the valley floor, the view opens to the Turnagain arm and the ski town of Girdwood, which is within the Municipality of Anchorage. Hanging glaciers dot the surrounding mountains with their distinctive jewel-like blue and white colors. At the top, you can hike, visit the free Roundhouse Museum, or have lunch among the clouds with the world at your feet.”
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2. Beluga Point
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Beluga Point is a popular scenic turnout located along the Seward Highway about 25 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska. It offers stunning views of the Turnagain Arm waterway as well as opportunities for wildlife viewing, including beluga whales, which sometimes swim close to shore during certain times of the year.
Alaska English Adventure shares, “When my daughter was just a baby, an evening drive was the only thing that would get her to sleep. The drive to Beluga Point always did the trick to get her to sleep. Upon arrival, I would always take a moment to enjoy the view and remember just how great life is.”
Photo courtesy of Alaska English Adventures
3. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is an 11-mile scenic trail, named after a former governor of Alaska who advocated for environmental protection, that runs along the shore of the Cook Inlet. It offers stunning views of the ocean, the Chugach Mountains, and the surrounding forests. The trail is popular among hikers, bikers, joggers, and skiers, and is accessible year-round. Along the trail, visitors can stop at various landmarks, including Earthquake Park, Point Woronzof, and Westchester Lagoon.
4. Westchester Lagoon
Westchester Lagoon is a popular recreational area that features a large, shallow freshwater lake surrounded by parkland. The lagoon is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, kayaking, and ice skating in the winter.
“Westchester Lagoon is a beautiful place in Anchorage that is a popular spot for outdoor activities like jogging, biking, and rollerblading. The park also has a large lake that’s home to a variety of birdlife and salmon in the summer. During the winter, the lake freezes over and becomes a popular spot for ice skating. There are also several trails that wind through the park, offering stunning panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains,” notes Handpicked Alaska.
Brea of Traveling Igloo adds, “While there are many trail systems and viewpoints in Anchorage, my favorite is Westchester Lagoon. The large lagoon has a winding trail alongside it which is a great area for bird watching and spotting the occasional moose. The Chugach Mountains and the Anchorage skyline sit as the backdrop while the Cook Inlet is just a few steps away. It’s a peaceful area with trails, wildlife, and greenery that keeps me coming back often.”
Photo courtesy of Traveling Igloo
5. Kincaid Park
Kincaid Park is a 1,400-acre municipal park that features over 60 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing, as well as a large sand beach and golf course. The park is also home to diverse wildlife, including moose, bears, and bald eagles, making it a popular spot for wildlife viewing.
“Anchorage is an amazing city and one of the coolest places is Kincaid Park,” raves Jason of My Alaskan Fishing Trip. “One can experience wildlife such as moose and eagles. It offers incredible hiking in the summer and amazing cross country ski trails in the winter. The nature experience it provides, you’d never think you were in a city.”
“One of my favorite places in Anchorage is Kincaid Park. Kincaid Park sits on the southwest side of Anchorage, and has over 60 miles of walking and singletrack biking trails. The trail in the picture below is called the Bluff Trail and it is the first to dry out for mountain biking after our long winters. There is a bench to sit and watch the tide roll in below and the eagles soar and swoop for their prey,” says AK Cycle Chic.
Photo courtesy of AK Cycle Chic
6. The Campbell Creek Walking Trail
The Campbell Creek Walking Trail is a scenic multi-use trail that stretches for over 7 miles from the Tudor Road Trailhead to the Far North Bicentennial Park. The trail follows the winding path of Campbell Creek, offering stunning views of the surrounding wilderness and providing access to a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and bird watching.
Phillip Flippo with The Alaska Frontier says, “Anchorage is well known for its integration of natural elements with the city itself, and the Campbell Creek walking trail is a perfect example of this. Here you can see Alaskan wildlife like the city’s famous moose, stop and have a lovely picnic at one of the many park areas along the way, and even see the Aurora on dark clear nights in Fall and Winter. Although there are several easy places to access the trail, I recommend the Taku Lake entrance as it is more centralized and will get you closer to nature, faster.”
Photo courtesy of the Alaska Frontier
7. Williwaw Lakes
Williwaw Lakes are a series of interconnected alpine lakes located in Chugach State Park. The lakes are popular with hikers and backpackers, who can access them via the Williwaw Lakes Trail, which offers stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife along the way.
“My favorite place in Anchorage to get away from the crowds and get into nature is the hike out to the beautiful Williwaw Lakes. Williwaw Lakes is a chain of dazzling blue glacial lakes and is a perfect local escape into the mountains of Chugach State Park without even having to leave the city,” shares The Adventures of Nicole.
Photo courtesy of The Adventures of Nicole
The Ballfield at Williwaw Lakes
“One of my favorite places to visit in Anchorage is the overlook of Williwaw Lakes from ‘The Ballfield.’ It is accessed from the Little O’Malley hiking trail via the Glen Alps trailhead located within the incredible Chugach State Park. Its beauty is unmatched for the accessibility and distance it takes to reach it. Although it’s not an easy hike by any measure, but people can reach it with a little determination,” shares Go Hike Alaska.
Photo courtesy of Go Hike Alaska
8. Turnagain Arm
Turnagain Arm is a body of water located in Southcentral Alaska, stretching for about 40 miles from the head of Cook Inlet to the Gulf of Alaska. The Arm is known for its dramatic tidal fluctuations, which can range up to 30 feet, and its stunning natural beauty, including the surrounding Chugach Mountains.
“Although not downtown Anchorage, the drive from downtown around the Turnagain Arm on the way to Seward has some amazing scenery,” notes Steven Benjamin of Katmai Fishing Guides.
9. Glen Alps Trailhead
The Glen Alps Trailhead is a popular starting point for hiking in Chugach State Park. The trailhead provides access to a variety of hiking trails, including the popular Flattop Mountain Trail, which leads to the summit of Flattop Mountain, offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
“The Glen Alps Trailhead is one of my favorite places in Anchorage. Summer hikes are great for wildlife viewing and can take you to the popular Flattop Mountain but the real fun is in the winter. Snow fills in the landscape for backcountry and cross country skiing. There are winter and summer biking trails but best of all the Glen Alps are an excellent place to see the northern lights in Anchorage,” notes Michael Still of LiveTravelTeach.
Photo courtesy of Michael Still
10. Spencer Glacier
Spencer Glacier is a popular tourist destination located close to Anchorage, Alaska. Visitors can take a scenic train ride followed by a short hike to the glacier to witness its stunning blue ice formations and picturesque landscape.
Joanna McBride of My Crush on the World shares, “We spent the better part of the afternoon kayaking through all the glacier debris that was left floating in the lake. I don’t think I’ve ever been close to something so geologically and historically magnificently impressive. It was named after a man named Spencer, who used to run back and forth between railroad camps, collecting time cards. One of his routes was across the glacier, as he has a path across the ice field.”
11. Portage Glacier
Portage Glacier is a beautiful glacier located in the Chugach National Forest. The glacier is about 14 miles long and up to 550 feet thick. Visitors can view the glacier from a distance at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center, which provides a great vantage point. Alternatively, visitors can take a boat tour to get closer to the glacier and witness its impressive size and blue-hued ice. While the glacier has been retreating for several decades, it remains a stunning natural wonder and a must-visit in Anchorage.