Beyond Anchorage lies some of the most unspoiled wilderness in the world, let alone the country. From stark mountains and boreal forest to glaciers and arctic seas, you owe it to yourself to explore another slice of the last frontier.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Two hours south by car, the town of Seward serves as the gateway for this coastal park. From there, you can take a cruise or flightseeing plane to Resurrection Bay to explore the glacier-carved seascape where puffins frolic and whales breach the sea dramatically, and a thundercrack can sometimes be heard from the calving ice.
Resurrection Pass Trail
Beloved by locals, this 38-mile path through the extraordinary Kenai Mountains takes five days to complete. Well-marked, easy to follow and designed to be tackled in chunks, the trail traverses open tundra and boreal forest. Plan to be completely off the grid if you decide to go.
Alyeska Ski Resort
An hour southwest of downtown, this ski resort is famed for its North Face, the longest continuous double black run in the states. If that’s a bit too daunting, the resort also offers 76 named trails and 7 lifts over 1,610 acres of prime Alaska powder. Come back in the summer for mountain biking, hiking and other activities.
1000 Arlberg Ave., Gridwood, AK; alyeskaresort.com
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
If you don’t want to go deep into the bush for a glimpse at bison and bears, this sanctuary for sick and injured animals is just the place. Located an hour south of Anchorage and down the road from Alyeska Resort, wolves, eagles, arctic foxes, musk oxen, moose and more majestic animals all make their home here.
Mile 79 Seward Highway, Portage, AK; alaskawildlife.org
You’ve been to drive-thru restaurants, but Alaska has a drive-thru glacier. Northwest of Anchorage lies this massive ice sheet, the largest glacier accessible by car in the country. Guides are required in the winter, and outfitters like MICA Guides offer ice climbing and hiking excursions.
Denali National Park and Preserve
Protecting the vast wilderness around the tallest mountain in North America, Denali, this national park has much to offer, even if you don’t plan on reaching the summit. Take the Alaska Railroad north to the park and take a bus for stunning views of the mountain at Polychrome Pass.