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Anchorage - Alaska

Mountains, Glaciers and the Sea

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Anchorage is set amidst some of most spectacular natural scenery in the nation. With the ocean, volcanoes, great canoeing and fishing rivers and lakes, and some of the most accessible glaciers in the world, the city offers wonderful vacation opportunities, with many chances for getaway day-trips to nearby scenic and historical areas.

The Wrangell Mountains, part of the Coast Range, offer a backcountry recreational paradise. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is located off the scenic Edgerton Highway. A gravel road takes you to the old mining towns of McCarthy and Kennicott, now designated as national historic landmarks.

As in other parts of Alaska, glaciers provide scenic excitement. Tustumena Glacier in the Kenai Mountains is a favorite hikers' destination. Matanuska Glacier is accessible from the Glenn Highway. Exit Glacier is found on the Kenai Peninsula at the edge of the Harding Ice field. Portage Glacier is close to Anchorage, at the head of Turnagain Arm. Here, at this accessible glacier, large icebergs fall off the toe, and bob around Portage Lake. There's a visitor viewing center overlooking the lake and glacier, and a tour boat provides daily cruises.

Nearby Prince William Sound found world-wide notoriety because of the 1989 oil spill. The rocky beaches of the sound have been scrubbed, and the natural environment has largely recovered from the disaster. Sports fishing is excellent. The fishing village of Cordova is as charming as ever. The Alaska ferry, that departs from Whittier for Valdez and Cordova, takes you for a close-in view of the Columbia Glacier.

The people of Anchorage enjoy a modern lifestyle and big-city recreational opportunities, including skiing at the Mt. Alyeska ski area. Anchorage boasts a zoo, and the Potter Point State Game Refuge is home to 130 species of wildfowl. Chugach State Park, on the Eagle River, has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, camping, and kayaking and rafting on the river.

Anchorage is the urban part of Alaska: a busy, bustling city of almost 250,000 which in many ways doesn't seem part of the wild Alaska that we dream about. Anchorage is the commercial and transportation capital of the state, with one of the busiest international airports in the world. It suffers from urban blight, as most other large cities do, yet Anchorage is definitely an "Alaskan" city that is worth exploring. The city has a moderate rainfall, about 20 inches a year. The winter temperatures hover around the zero mark, with the coldest days around 10 below.

Practical Information

The Log Cabin Visitor Information Center is located at West 4th Avenue, at F Street (907) 274-3532. Maps and brochures on Anchorage attractions are avail able here. There are two special hotlines: Artsline, (907) 276-2787, gives information on entertainment and the arts scene; the All About Anchorage Line, (907) 276-3200, lists daily happenings.

The Alaska Public Lands Information Center is located in the Old Federal Building on 4th Avenue, between F & G Streets (271-2737), providing information on national & state parks, and other remote areas, plus exhibits and an interactive video display.

The Post Office is located at West 4th Avenue & C Street, in the lower level in the downtown shopping mall (907) 277-6568. The station for the Alaska Railroad is at 2nd Ave near Ship Creek (907) 265-2494, with daily service to Seward, Whittier, Denali Park and Fairbanks.

Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) offices are at 333 W 4th Street (907) 272-4482, in the Post Office Mall, for tickets and ferry reservations.

Anchorage International Airport is located a few miles south west of the downtown area via International Airport Rd. Take the People Mover Bus or the airport limousine (907) 694-6484.

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