Anchorage Day Trips

Only one highway leads north or south out of Anchorage but follow the road in order to see spectacular scenery, wildlife, quaint towns, colorful murals, glaciers and so much more. Enjoy “The Last Frontier” for a day or two.

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1 Ghost Forest along Seward Highway in Alaska

The Seward Highway is a wonderful, scenic drive for about 127 miles between Anchorage and Seward. Stop at several turnouts to enjoy the mountains, valleys, waterways, glaciers and, if you’re lucky, maybe a whale, sea lion or a moose. What I found fascinating was this Ghost Forest in the Girdwood Valley at mile post 90. This Tidewater Slough was created during the Great Alaska Earthquake in 1964 when the elevation dropped dramatically below sea level. It wiped out the original town of Girdwood and turned this row of trees a ghostly white.

Seward Hwy & Alyeska Hwy Girdwood, AK 99587
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2 Bald Eagle Calling at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, Alaska

I was very impressed by this bald eagle’s combative stance and angry cry. It was demonstrating why they are the largest raptor species in North America, meaning they hunt and feed on other animals and fish. This bird, along with several breeds of very large animals that are native to Alaska, can be seen at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. It’s a perfect visit for the whole family.

Seward Highway & Portage Glacier Rd, Portage, AK 99587
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3 Moose Close Up at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, Alaska

Approximately 200,000 moose live in Alaska. This male is in the care of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The AWCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation, education and care of wild animals. Their 200 acre refuge, which is about 50 miles south of Anchorage, provides natural habitat for several species of Alaskan wildlife. It also provides visitors with a close up look at these enormous antlers. The Alaska bull moose averages about 1,400 pounds.

Seward Highway & Portage Glacier Rd, Portage, AK 99587
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4 Railroad Tracks At Beluga Point along Seward Highway in Alaska

This view of the Kenai Mountains and the Turnagain Arm waterway is from Beluga Point along the Seward Highway. Those railway tracks date back to 1903. That is when the first Alaskan railroad only traveled about 50 miles between Anchorage and Seward. By 1914, the Alaska Northern Railway Company extended service to Fairbanks and by 1917 it employed over 4,500 workers. It is now managed by the state and continues to provide commercial and tourist transportation services across about 500 miles.

Beluga Point Seward Anchorage Hwy, Anchorage, AK 99516
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5 Art and Coffee House in Seward, Alaska

The Resurrect Art Coffee House is an example of the small, quaint shops and restaurants you will find during your visit to Seward, Alaska. This art gallery’s brown cedar shake building appears to have been a church when it was built in 1916. But they have been a coffee house since 1933. They also display arts and crafts from local artisans to tempt your wallet while sipping your espresso.

320 3rd Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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6 Senior Prom Mural by Barbara Lavallee in Seward, Alaska

This delightful, whimsical mural of senior citizens dancing is called “Senior Prom.” It was painted on the south wall of the Seward’s Senior Center in 2010 by Barbara Lavallee and was sponsored by the Seward Mural Society. Ms. Lavalle was born in Davenport, Iowa, and is now a successful painter and illustrator in Anchorage.

336 3rd Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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7 Commercial Fisherman Mural by Tom Missel in Seward, Alaska

Tom Missel’s passion for painting and fishing in the Prince William Sound came together in this 2003 mural called “Tribute to Commercial Fishermen.” It honors the nearly 80,000 Alaskans in the fishing industry that contribute nearly $6 billion a year to the state’s economy. Thanks to his friend Sissy (a.k.a. Edna Rose) for suggesting we visit Seward, the “Mural Capitol of Alaska.” This wonderful outdoor art can be found at 4th & Church Street on the Oriental Gardens Restaurant exterior.

313 Adams St Seward, AK 99664
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8 Salmon Fishing At Scheffler Creek in Seward, Alaska

These fishermen at Scheffler Creek never noticed the cold, wet weather. They were too busy snagging silver Coho salmon out of Resurrection Bay with every cast but they had to compete with harbor seals and sea lions. The average angler arrived, caught their limit, packed the salmon in a cooler and drove away within an hour. This beach fishing action was so good that the Seward City News made it a feature story.

Scheffler Creek Bridge 1000 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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9 Wild Coho and Sockeye Salmon on Stringer in Seward, Alaska

Alaska has over 6,000 miles of coastline, three million lakes and 3,000 rivers so commercial fishing is a huge industry and sport fishing is a passion. The state has five species of wild salmon but, for some reason, each type has two names. The king (chinook), the pink (humpback), the chum (keta) and shown here on a stringer are the sockeye (red) and the silver (Coho). These six fish on a stringer are the daily personal limit. They average two feet long and about eight pounds. Delicious!

Scheffler Creek Bridge 1000 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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10 Seward Bound Whale Mural by Pechuzal and McElroy in Seward, Alaska

Justine Pechuzal and Liza McElroy painted these life-size humpback whales called “Seward Bound” on 4th Street and Railway Avenue in 2011. They are two of several talented artists who, since 1999, have painted over 30 murals in Seward, a town of less than 3,000 people. This non-profit promoter of the arts is called the Seward Mural Society.

133 4th Ave Seward, AK 99664
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11 Tufted Puffin Mural at Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska

This Tufted puffin is one of two species that live in colonies along the Northern Pacific coast. It is also called a crested puffin for its distinctive yellow swirl of plumage that occurs during the summer mating season. This realistic mural is on Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska.

301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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12 St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Seward, Alaska

The first services for the Church of Epiphany were held in a home one year after Seward, Alaska, was founded in 1903 by workers on the Alaska railroad. Construction on this St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was completed six years before the town was incorporated in 1912. Although a lot has happened in Seward during the last 100 years, the façade of this red, cedar-sided church looks the same. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

239 Second Ave Seward, AK 99664
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13 Pacific Harbor Seal Mural at Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska

This mural of a Pacific common seal greets you at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska. Built in 1998 and funded largely by the Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement, this non-profit aquarium not only delights visitors with its sea life exhibits but it also conducts marine research, education and rehabilitation projects. Several stranded and injured seals are being nursed back to health before being released back into the wild.

301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664
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14 Young Couple Taking Selfie at Exit Glacier near Seward, Alaska

This young couple with their baby strapped on the husband’s back memorialized their hike along the Exit Glacier by taking a selfie. Although “selfie” has been part of social media’s lexicon for about a decade, the Oxford English Dictionary declared it their “Word of the Year” in 2013. Now get ready for “Groufie” which was coined by the Chinese in 2014 for a self-taken group photo. The glacier behind this family is in Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward, Alaska.

24620 Herman Leirer Rd, Seward, AK 99664
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15 Thunder Bird Falls Trail Boardwalk in Alaska

Alaska is synonymous with millions of acres of beautiful wilderness. There are countless parks and trails for the avid hiker. However, if you are short of time or easily get short of breath, then try the Thunder Bird Falls Trail. The pathway is only a mile long as it winds through a lush forest with views of the Eklutna River flowing along the deep canyon below your feet. At the end of your hike in Chugach State Park is a spectacular waterfall.

25321 Old Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, AK 99567
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16 Thunder Bird Falls in Chugach Park in Alaska

A short drive north of Anchorage on Glenn Highway is Thunder Bird Falls in the Chugach State Park. After parking your car at the trailhead, it’s only a mile hike along an easy walking path before you arrive at a viewing platform to see this picturesque waterfall drop 200 feet into Thunder Bird Creek.

25321 Old Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, AK 99567
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17 Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska

Behind the doors of this log cabin in Wasilla, Alaska, is the Iditarod headquarters. Here you can learn how Joe Redington, Sr. founded “The Last Great Race on Earth” in 1973, see historic memorabilia from the 1,150 mile sled dog race and take your own short ride behind a dog team. Or, if you’re willing, sign up for the next event in March and enjoy your brutal travel from Anchorage to Nome in blizzard conditions and wind chills of -100° F. That endurance test lasts 9 to 17 days.

2100 S Knik-Goose Bay Rd, Wasilla, AK 99654
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18 Joe Redington, Sr. Homestead in Wasilla, Alaska

This home belonged to one of two famous residents of Wasilla, Alaska. Joe Redington, Sr. built his homestead here in 1948 and then Knik Kennels for sled dogs. Through 1966, he used these teams to conduct search and rescue missions in the Alaskan wilderness. Then, in 1973, he co-founded the annual 1,150 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Wasilla’s other famous resident is Sarah Palin. She was the city’s mayor from 1996 through 2002 and later became the Governor of Alaska in 2006.

2100 S Knik-Goose Bay Rd, Wasilla, AK 99654
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