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Overview

Located along Cook Inlet and backed by the dramatic Chugach Mountains, Anchorage is home to 280,000 people — nearly half Alaska's population. First-time visitors are surprised to find many features of a Lower-48 city, from shopping malls and big-box stores to fine restaurants and bustling nightclubs. Anchorage has two universities and several excellent museums, including the recently expanded Anchorage Museum. During the winter months, Anchorage is best known as the ceremonial starting point for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Held in early March, this annual event attracts thousands of onlookers who cheer as dog teams head out for the ...

Located along Cook Inlet and backed by the dramatic Chugach Mountains, Anchorage is home to 280,000 people — nearly half Alaska's population. First-time visitors are surprised to find many features of a Lower-48 city, from shopping malls and big-box stores to fine restaurants and bustling nightclubs. Anchorage has two universities and several excellent museums, including the recently expanded Anchorage Museum. During the winter months, Anchorage is best known as the ceremonial starting point for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Held in early March, this annual event attracts thousands of onlookers who cheer as dog teams head out for the 1,000-plus mile trip to Nome. Another popular winter event is the Fur Rendezvous (mid-February); star attraction is a run-with-the-reindeer race. Three downhill ski areas are near Anchorage, including the state's premier area, Alyeska Ski Resort, a half-hour south in the town of Girdwood. Ice-climbers rope up for the numerous ice falls lining the highway between Anchorage and Girdwood. Cross-country skiing is exceptionally popular around Anchorage, with world-class groomed trails (free), many with lighted skiing for those long winter nights. The trails at Kincaid Park are especially popular, and are often used for national races. More adventurous skiers head to Hatcher Pass or Turnagain Pass for backcountry skiing. The Ski for Women in February and Tour of Anchorage in March attract hundreds of cross-country ski buffs. Snowmobilers head into parts of Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest, especially around Turnagain Pass. Ice hockey is a favorite sport for young and old in Anchorage, and the city hosts the semi-pro Alaska Aces.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March brings longer days and the Iditarod.