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Best Outdoor Activities in Anchorage

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The Crow Creek Mine is a recreational mine in Anchorage. What was once one of the largest placer mines in South Central Alaska during World War II, has now become a tourist attraction where people from all over the world come here to try their luck and find gold. Local miners help the visitors through the process of the gold hunt which gives visitors a first hand experience with mining. Several weddings and private events are held here amidst the backdrop of this historic site. Panning in Anchorage is a huge sensation, thus, a visit to the Crow Creek Mine is highly recommended for you never know when you might strike gold!

This coastal trail offers 11 miles (18 kilometers) of paved walking, skiing, biking and in-line skating heaven. It also provides unbelievable sunset views. The trail, built in honor of one of the city's former mayors and the former governor, is joined by many side trails that come from the midtown and south Anchorage districts. Along the way are mile and trail markers and, at Westchester Lagoon (one mile south of downtown), built-in fitness centers with pull-up bars, sit-up benches and general fitness information.

A protected wetland, this no-fee 2,300-acre viewing area is just south of the city and has a long, raised boardwalk from which you may access the wetland without disturbing the birds. Some of the varieties seen from this viewing platform are the Pacific Loon, American Wigeon, Canada Goose, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, Goldeneye Species, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Short-Billed Dowitchers, Wandering Tattler and many more. A spotting scope and volunteer bird enthusiast are typically available during park hours. Note: no dogs allowed. Another location for birders is near the airport at Lake Spenard.

Go east on O'Malley, right at Hillside Drive, left at Upper Huffman to Glen Alps and into the parking lot for this trailhead. The total driving route is 12 miles from downtown and the hiking trail is about three miles round trip. Rated by some as easy, and others as difficult, in 1.5 miles you will gain 1,252 feet and experience short periods of "scrambling." Views from this peak are of the Alaska Range, Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and Anchorage; don't forget your camera.

Kincaid Park is home to the city's largest moose population, but bipeds also enjoy the beauty of this former glacial area. With more than 1,400 acres (6.1 square kilometers), this wooded park has trails that wind throughout. Many interpretive sites and frequent postings allow for navigation through this beautiful, hilly place. You may access the park either from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail or by Raspberry Road. There is a large interpretive visitor's center available and many wide open areas where festivals are held. These trails are home to local and national skiing competitions and have also hosted Olympic tryouts.

In 1970 this magnificent area was declared a state park. Located within the municipality of Anchorage, Chugach State Park includes roughly 500,000 acres (202,343 hectares) of the Chugach Range and the surrounding landscape. The Eklutna Lake is the park's most unique proposition that beautifully mirrors the surrounding environs over its glassy surface. With a 5,000 foot (1,524 meters) vertical rise and three major campgrounds to the north of Anchorage, this wilderness area is filled with wildlife including moose, wolves, brown and black bears and more. It's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts offering a plethora of activities that allow one to get up, close and personal with nature.

Forty miles south of Anchorage is a ski resort that offers a tram (holds 60 skiers), three double chairs, a high-speed quad, two quad chairs and two tow ropes. In addition, the property has 50km (786 acres) of cross-country skiing. The vertical drop is 2,500 feet with an annual snowfall of 580". There are 62 trails and 9 lifts; the longest run is 10,560 feet. Several restaurants and lounges are located within the Westin Alyeska Prince Resort, which is adjacent to the tram.

This grassy, garden strip (11 blocks long and one block wide) was designed as a fire protection strip for the downtown district. Later, it acted as a landing strip for the city. Now, it is a recreational area with eight tennis courts, space for flying kites, ball fields, basketball courts, volleyball courts, a skating rink, a steam engine and a Veteran's Memorial. Named for the 1929 Anchorage mayor, James Delaney, it hosts several festivals each year.

This 110-acre (44.5 hectares) garden includes native perennials, an enclosed herb garden and an outdoor rock garden. Created in 1991 by volunteers, the garden has become an educational resource as well as a stunning showcase of Alaskan plants and wildflowers. Paths throughout allow for easy travel and a 1.2-mile hike provides views of the Chugach Mountains, a natural wetland and nearby Campbell Creek. One unusual feature is a still-used dog-mushing trail that travels through the garden. For the kids, ask to borrow a free Discovery Duffel from the garden store, packed with games and activities that tie in to the exhibits. Guided tours are available upon request.

Every day, spring to fall, more than 24 million gallons of rushing water comes through Ship Creek. It is a pristine creek in which salmon spawn. The viewing platform offers visitors an opportunity to watch salmon run while fishermen attempt to hook them. Remember, to fish in this creek, as anywhere else, you must have the appropriate fishing license. For now, despite regular discussions about developing it with displays and underwater creek bed viewing, the creek remains untouched except for the wooden viewing platform.

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