Chugach State Park
Beyond the foothills at the edge of Alaska's largest city is the third-largest state park in the United States, offering some of the most accessible hiking, skiing, camping, wildlife viewing, snowmobiling, rafting and climbing in the state. Chugach State Park is carved from the western climax of the Chugach Range, which stretches 200 coastal miles from Anchorage to Canada. At 405,204 acres, Chugach has enough space to contain both New York City and Los Angeles within its borders.
The park features nine distinct environments including hemlock-spruce forests, muskeg, alpine tundra, the riparian habitat of rivers and lakes, coastal wetlands and even marine waters because its southern boundary extends halfway across Turnagain Arm. More than 45 species of mammals live in Chugach State Park, including nearly all the terrestrial mammals found in Alaska. Brown bears and moose are so prevalent they occasionally wander into Anchorage neighborhoods. Biologists estimate the mammal population includes more than 1,000 moose, 40 brown bears and 80 black bears. There are also 2,000 Dall sheep, one wolf pack and smaller populations of lynx, beavers, river otters, fox and mountain goats.
Alaska has wilderness areas that are larger and more biologically pristine than Chugach, but no other wildlife-rich habitat on Earth is so close to a major city. The Chugach is also amazingly accessible with 16 trailheads and 110 trails that provide almost 500 miles of options for traversing the park.