Monday, February 21, 2022

A walk on Alaska's wild side

 On our drive from Anchorage to Homer we discovered the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Located 49 miles south from Anchorage and 11 miles southeast of Girdwood, the center is located at milepost 79 of the Seward Highway. If you are in the vicinity, it is worth a visit.

Here, on 200 acres at the head of Turnagain Arm and the entrance to Portage Valley, you will see close-up a variety of native animals in their natural environments. As per the mission of this non-profit center, it is dedicated to conservation, research, education, and animal care.

There are scheduled feeding and interactive talks. Guides offer tours (additional charge) through the facility, offering history and stories of the resident wildlife including foxes, bears, wolves, porcupines, wood bison, musk oxen, antelopes, elk, caribou, foxes and coyotes. You’ll also get an opportunity to feed an animal.

Visitors who would rather not walk on graded trails can drive the 1.5 mile loop. All animals are outside in their fenced enclosures. Larry and I spent a couple of hours strolling on the self-guided trails, stopping often to watch the antics of these rescued wildlife.

A prime feature of AWCC is the raised walkway through the brown bear habitat. This allows visitors to have an unencumbered view of the bears as they walk around, eat, and go about their daily activities. It’s a unique way to showcase these interesting animals.

Bison Hall at the Center is a stunning dining and event space surrounded by breathtaking views and Alaska’s wildlife that is available for rent. Since we left the Center shortly before noon to continue our drive to Homer, we purchased reindeer sausages from an on-site vendor. A little farther down the road we enjoyed a picnic lunch at Summit Lake.

Since we were in Alaska in July, another bonus was gorgeous displays of fireweed, a bright pink wildflower that was in full bloom along roadsides and in view of the beautiful Chugach Mountains. It is absolutely stunning!

AWCC is open rain or shine, year-round. Admission to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is $18 adult (18+), $14 youth (5 - 17), children 4 & under are free, $15 Active Military (with ID), $16 Seniors ages 65 and older. 

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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