After checking out in the early morning on our cruise ship – the Royal Princess – we took the transfer bus from Princess Cruises from Whittier to Anchorage. The transfer took about 90 minutes, so we were at Anchorage airport around 10 a.m. Here we got off and were able to store our luggage for free at the airport in a room that was open especially for cruise guests. This service is offered until 5 p.m., then you have to pick up your luggage. Since our flight to New York didn’t start until 8:30 p.m., this was perfect for us, because we didn’t have to take the suitcases on our day’s trip along the Seward Highway and to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center 🙂
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The rental car for our day tour in Anchorage
As always, we have purchased our rental car for today through billiger-mietwagen.de incl. “All-round carefree package”. This means that all important insurances & services (full insurance and theft protection without excess, liability, glass/tyre protection, all kilometers free and can be cancelled free of charge) are already included in the rental price. We have always had very good experiences with this and can only recommend this. For our midsize SUV we paid the landlord Hertz 87 EUR and in the end even got a full-size SUV with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A map of all attractions in the Anchorage region
On the following Google Maps map we have mapped all the major sights that are located in Anchorage and along the Seward Highway:
Viewpoints along the Seward Highway
The Seward Highway is a highway in the U.S. state of Alaska that stretches for 200 kilometers from Anchorage to Seward. It was completed in 1951 and passes through the picturesque Kenai Peninsula, the Chugach National Forest, the Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains.
The Chugach State Park
The section of the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood is part of Chugach State Park and is listed as the National Scenic Byway and designated as the All-American Road.
Founded in 1970, Chugach State Park is located east of Anchorage and is now one of the largest state parks in the United States. The park is named after the “Chugach”, a group of Pacific Eskimos who lived in Prince William Sound. Chugach State Park is a popular destination with 28 marked hiking trails, three campsites, extensive sea coasts, abundant lakes, massive glaciers and ice fields. The westernmost border of the park lies in the foothills of the Chugach mountain range. The park is further defined by the Knik Arm to the north, the Turnagain Arm to the south, and the Upper and Lower Lake George and Chugach National Forest to the east.
The Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk
Our first stop was the Potter Marsh Boardwalk, a vantage point immediately after the exit of Anchorage.
The 564-hectare freshwater bog stretches nearly two miles between the New Seward Highway and the base of the Chugach Mountains and creates a wetland where you can find up to 130 species of migratory birds and nesting birds. This rich habitat also attracts grazing moose, beavers and muskrats, bald eagles and spawning salmon. Potter Marsh concentrates so much wildlife because it offers a number of different habitats in relatively small space. At least three flowing streams feed a network of shallow ponds and form a moist bog. An old forest of poplar wood, birch and spruce rises along the surrounding area.
On this rainy morning we could not see any animals along the way except for a few ducks.
The Beluga Point at Turnagain Arm
The Turnagain Arm is a bay at the end of the Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska and covers a length of up to 72 kilometers. The bay has its name from British explorer James Cook, who was forced to “turn around” when he was unable to cross the waterway during his voyage in 1778. The Turnagain arm is characterized by remarkably large tides of up to 12 meters, which are among the largest tides in North America. At low tide, the arm becomes a wide area of sludge, which is cut by the flow channels. When the tide comes in the form of a tidal wave, it reaches a speed of 30 km/h and even attracts a few adventurous local surfers.
One of the first viewpoints is Beluga Point, a rock formation with a dark sandy beach. Here it was really extremely stormy and we couldn’t see any belugas.
Along the Seward Highway, there are other viewpoints and hiking trails every few miles, such as the McHugh Trailhead, rainbow Trailhead, Falls Creek Trail, Bird Ridge Trailhead. Our highlight along the Seward Highway, however, was a small parking lot, about 500 meters after the Bird Point Trailhead. Here we were lucky enough to see 2 white whales – or better known as belugas. They have repeatedly appeared in the water in front of us. Unfortunately, it was extremely difficult to photograph. But the main thing we were allowed to experience these beautiful animals in the wild 🙂
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Our last stop today was a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which is located directly on the Seward Highway at the eastern end of the Turnagain Arm.
Things to know about the Nature Conservation Centre
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, training, and researching Alaska’s wildlife. The park is located on an area of 280 hectares, about 75 kilometers (1 hour) from Anchorage and 25 minutes from Whittier. The special thing is that you can drive your own vehicle across the terrain to the individual enclosures. But of course you can also park your car in the large parking lot and walk.
The park is open year-round, with a few exceptions, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day, and costs USD 16 per adult.
Die “Walk on the Wild Side Tour”
You can explore the park yourself like a zoo or take part in a guided tour. We participated in a 90-minute Walk on the Wild Side Tour, where we were guided by a guide through the Wildlife Conservation Center, learned a lot about the history of the nonprofit organization and also had the chance to get to know and feed a porcupine and deer up close and personal 🙂
The observation deck for the brown bears
Highlights of the park include the giant brown bears, which are located on a large area in the middle of the park. A viewing platform offers a good view of the bears. Our tip: In the summer months, the feeding of the bears takes place at 3.30 p.m. Then you have the best chance to see them up close.
More animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
On the grounds of the Wildlife Center there are of course many other animals, such as wolves, black bears, foxes, moose, bald eagles, musk oxen and reindeer.
We particularly liked the big bison with its sweet kitten ♥
Our flight from Anchorage to New York
From the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, it took us just over an hour back to Anchorage. We quickly went to a Walmart, bought some things for the flight and then left our rental car at the airport. Just in time at 8.30 p.m. we took off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport with Alaska Airlines to New York (Newark). The flight takes a total of 7 hours and we even had the great opportunity to see some northern lights 🙂
All travelogues from our Alaska CruiseOur cruise on the Royal Princess took us for a week along the coast from Vancouver north to Whittier (Anchorage). On this great cruise adventure around the northernmost state of the USA we visited the cities of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. We also took a scenic cruise in Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord with breathtaking views of Alaska's glaciers.
Day 1: Visa – Entry to Canada (eTA Application) & to the USA (ESTA Application)
Day 1: Vancouver – Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots (Canada)
Day 1: Royal Princess – Our ship for the Alaska Cruise
Day 2: Day at Sea
Day 3: Ketchikan – Totemp poles, bald eagles & salmon (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – Things to do in the capital of Alaska (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – Orcas and humpback whales at Whale Watching (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – A trip to mendenhall Glacier (USA)
Day 5: Skagway – A walk through the old gold mining town (USA)
Day 5: Skagway – Musher’s Camp & Dog Sled Adventure (USA)
Day 5: Haines – Bears and bald eagles on the Chilkoot River (USA)
Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park – A Scenic Cruise in Alaska (USA)
Day 7: College Fjord – A Scenic Cruise & Arrival in Whittier (USA)
Day 8: Anchorage – Seward Highway & Alaska Wildlife Center (USA)