Get up close and personal with Alaska wildlife in this three-day itinerary. The trip includes birdwatching near Anchorage, a wildlife-watching cruise out of Seward, and behind-the-scenes encounters in three animal husbandry facilities.
Day 1 Anchorage
Arrive in Anchorage and pick up a rental car. The city offers many great experiences for visitors, but our focus is animals—so your first stop on this itinerary is the Alaska Zoo, where you can participate in a 45-minute to one-hour behind-the-scenes “special encounter” to help feed, train and care for the zoo’s wolves or big cats.
Once that adventure is complete, grab lunch at one of Anchorage’s excellent restaurants and start your 40-mile drive south to the funky ski town of Girdwood. Stop at Potter Marsh along the way. This wetland is located just south of Anchorage and features extensive boardwalks and viewing platforms. It’s a great place to view and photograph the many birds that pass through the area, including bald eagles, horned and red-necked grebes, northern harriers, Arctic terns and trumpeter swans. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and see other wildlife like bears and moose, too.
Keep your eyes peeled as you resume your drive south along the shore of Turnagain Arm—mountain goats and Dall sheep are often spotted on the rocky cliffs above the highway. Sometimes you’ll also see small, white beluga whales in the water, chasing salmon, herring and other fish as they travel up the inlet. Spend the night in Girdwood.
Day 2 Girdwood to Seward
Start the day with breakfast in Girdwood, then take a short drive to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located about a dozen miles further south on the Seward Highway. Here, you can see wildlife including brown bears, black bears, elk, moose, wolverines and porcupines in natural habitats. Time your visit right and you can take one of the center’s behind-the-scenes tours or watch the animals being fed.
Your next stop is Portage Glacier and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, where you can learn about Chugach National Forest, which stretches from Prince William Sound to the Kenai Peninsula—an area larger than the state of New Hampshire—and take a short cruise to the glistening face of the glacier. After your visit, drive the rest of the way to Seward and spend the night.
Day 3 Seward
Seward is the ideal place for learning about Alaska’s rich, diverse marine life. Start the day with a sightseeing cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park, where you’ll have good odds of seeing seals, sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, and numerous seabirds. Once you return to Seward it’s time for a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center, a combination research and rehabilitation center where you can learn more about the animals that make their home in Resurrection Bay. Overnight in Seward and prepare to either return back to Anchorage or continue your driving trip west along the Kenai Peninsula to the communities of Kenai, Soldotna and Homer.