Alaska’s most populous city offers exhilarating experiences for the adrenaline junkie year-round. Here are our top six..

headcreativecommons.org/Paxson Woelber

By Myriah Saulnier

Alaska is a global treasure. It delivers an enchanted escape to its visitors and residents alike and it is unique in its ability to constantly inspire awe.

Few places in the world can compete with its diverse culture and biology—and Alaska’s most populous city is no different.

From the Cook Inlet to the peaks of the Chugach Mountains, Anchorage provides city-living punctuated with unparalleled natural beauty. It’s all about learning to co-exist with moose and bears, endure the subarctic climate, revel in unequaled outdoor recreation in both darkness and daylight, and to never take for granted the perfect backdrop of the dancing northern lights.

Anchorage is every adventurer’s dream. If you’re looking for exhilarating experiences worthy of your bucket-list, there is no limit.

1. Ice Climb on Frozen Waterfalls and Glaciers

waterfallcreativecommons.org/Frank Kovalchek

Anchorage’s peaks, ridges and waterfalls offer more than just a picturesque view. For the sports enthusiast, they also offer some unique challenging climbs. Channel your inner Sherpa, grab an ice axe and go face-to-face with a frozen waterfall in the winter months, or heave yourself up a glacier to get a handle on the sport during the summer.

There are several certified Alaska climbing guides who can show you the ropes and take you to unforgettable sights. Typically these guided tours include your necessary climbing gear, transportation and instruction. There is variety for both the novice and the experienced climber, where ascents are possible on beginner slopes or completely vertical technical routes.

2. Paraglide off Mount Alyeska

paraglidingcreativecommons.org/Daniel Nugent

Strap in, sprint downhill and paraglide off Mount Alyeska, soaring past the endless mountain vistas and beautiful valleys of the Chugach range. With a skilled instructor, travellers can paraglide together from the top of Alyeska’s Aerial Tramway, flying through mountainsides and over mountain streams, before touching down in a nearby meadow.

Available from June to September, when weather conditions allow, tandem paragliding is one of the ultimate sight-seeing adventures. For those looking for an even bigger adrenaline rush, ask for the ‘rollercoaster’, which is where you spin in the air.

3. Kayak or Canoe through Icebergs

kayakcreativecommons.org/Paxson Woelber

Bob along with icebergs and get a feel for a traditional method of travel for coastal Alaska, by kayaking or canoeing in the summer. The world-renowned Prince William Sound, Resurrection Bay and Kachemak Bay all offer outstanding sea kayaking, with close-up views of sea life, mountains and glaciers. The same views can be seen canoeing at Spencer Lake, if floating down a river is more what you’re into.

Other popular spots within Anchorage city limits include Jewel, Cheney and Campbell Point lakes, as well as Westchester Lagoon—many of which are stocked with rainbow trout.

4. Fly Over Mountains, Glaciers and National Parks

backcountrycreativecommons.org/Paxson Woelber

Soar through the Alaskan sky and let an experienced pilot give you an eagle-eye view of the nation’s wilderness via floatplane, fixed wing or helicopter. From the air, the spectacular scenery of mountains hurling into dark blue seas, massive glaciers grinding their way from snow fields and rosy sunsets will leave you speechless.

Revel in the stunning views of the Chugach Mountains, Mount McKinley, Alaska National Parks, the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, Prince William Sound or the Harding Icefield. Fly around for hours or touch down where few have tread and embark on an expedition of a lifetime. Day trips and overnight adventures can include bear-viewing, fly-in fishing, hiking and glacier landings.  

5. Ski or Snowshoe through the Winter Panorama

snow shoecreativecommons.org/Ted Angstadt

Anchorage boasts hundreds of miles of designated multi-use trails and huge parks, perfect to leave your footprint on the winter wonderland. Within a few minutes of downtown, areas such as Kincaid Park, the Hillside trail system, Far North Bicentennial Park and Powerline Pass at Glen Alps offer plenty of wilderness snowshoeing adventures. Whether you are a novice looking for a short jaunt through the park or a seasoned trekker looking for an overnight getaway, grab your snowshoes and poles because frozen territory that was too boggy to travel through in the summer is now available!

If skiing is more your thing, there are opportunities for skiers of all abilities and interests. For a serious cardio workout and a real Alaska experience, breaking new track in the backcountry should be on every outdoor explorer’s to-do list. Powerline Pass is the prime spot for backcountry skiing.

Kincaid Park is the jewel of cross-country skiing in Anchorage with 60 kilometers of trails winding through 1,400 acres of parks. There are thousands of trails for the dedicated Nordic skier: flat trails winding through the city or groomed wilderness trails including the Tony Knowles Coastal trail, Moose Meadow and the Chester Creek Trail.

Alpine skiers have three choices within 45 minutes of downtown Anchorage – Hilltop Ski Area, Arctic Valley and Aleyska Resort - all of which offer stunning views and several vertical feet of snowy terrain.

6. Ride with a Dog Sled Team across an Alaskan Meadow

dogscreativecommons.org/Jared Sternberg

Have the chance to stand on the sled runners and drive a dog sled team yourself, or sit in the sled’s basket to take in the beautiful views and admire the dogs collective muscle, speed, smarts and charm. A pack of powerful huskies can take you mushing in Alaskan meadows or the hillside trails in the nearby Chugach Mountains in the winter. During the summer, experience the thrill of dogsledding on wheels or travel to a glacier by car or helicopter to go on a wintery ride.

Dog sledding tours are available all over Anchorage—a city that is famous for its annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which kicks off on Fourth Avenue each March.

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