Best Parks in Anchorage: Anchorage, AK Parks & Recreation Guide
When people think of Anchorage, Alaska, their heads are filled with images of pristine natural landscapes and the sounds of music. While one could write an entire piece characterizing the cultural scene of Anchorage—which has more musicians than any other place in Alaska—here the focus will be on the trails, wildlife, and scenery that can be viewed in the six main parks throughout the city.
Kincaid Park Amenities
- Walking and hiking trails
- Disc golf course
- Ski trails
- Sporting events
The 1,500 acres that make up Kincaid Park form a local go-to spot for outdoor sports. There are trails as well as outdoor mazes for walking, hiking, running, and even cycling; but that's only the start of it for this land, which used to hold a missile base during the Cold War.
Kincaid Park is celebrated in the warmer months. It's well-known for its 18-hole disc golf course, a major draw for enthusiasts of this sport. Kincaid Park has seven grassy fields to hold outdoor team sports, which most often trends towards soccer. There are even specialty ranges and courses for archery, dog training, and motocross. If water sports are of interest, there are lakes for paddling or freshwater trout-fishing.
In the winter, there are over 40 miles of trails that accommodate all levels of skiing expertise, from recreational newbies through competitive athletes. In fact, Kincaid hosts many sporting events, including U.S. National Championships as well as Olympic trials.
The wildlife at Kincaid is on-point as well, with trails leading to the heart of the woods. In the summer, moose tend to graze by the trails, and black bears can be seen walking around. Bald eagles may be seen flying overhead, while along the coast, beluga whales may be spotted.
Earthquake Park Amenities
- Coastal Trail
- Cross-country skiing
- Trolley tours
One of the first questions that comes to mind when considering Earthquake Park has to do with its name: why is it called Earthquake Park?
The answer is that it sits in the aftermath of the March 27, 1964 earthquake that forced an entire neighborhood to slide into the ocean. This was the strongest-known earthquake to have hit the United States. In fact, this earthquake hit a 9.2 on the Richter scale and lasted for an entire four minutes, which is a highly extended timeframe for such a seismic event. Throughout Earthquake Park, there are signs that extensively document and curate the effects that this earthquake had on the 134 acres that form the park.
Earthquake Park is situated along the coast by the Knik Arm, and it contains some renowned views of the water, the mountains, and even Anchorage itself. There is a very strong and persistent moose presence here as well, which all wildlife enthusiasts are happy to discover. Many people choose to picnic in this park, enjoying its beauty and serenity.
Earthquake Park features the Coastal Trail, which is open for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing (in the cold winter months). Trolley tours through Anchorage stop in Earthquake Park as well, which opens the park up to an even wider audience.
Cuddy Family Midtown Park
Cuddy Family Midtown Park Amenities
- Wildlife viewing
- Playground for kids
- Paved trails
- Speed skating rink
What is perhaps most notable about the Cuddy Family Midtown Park is that it was started in 1980 by a group of volunteers, and since then, volunteers have helped it expand into the essential park that is beloved today. Although it only measures 15 acres total, this park is jam-packed with fun.
At its center, there is a lake and lagoon that serves as the hub for wildlife in the park. Notable numbers of ducks and geese assemble on this water in the warm weather. In the winter, plenty of mallards are known to gather here.
Setting wildlife aside, this park is a great place for groups to exercise and play. There is a large playground that was renovated in 2013 to include new swings, slides, monkey bars, and ropes, making this park a popular place to bring kids. For exercise, there are plenty of paved trails as well as a speed skating oval. An outdoor amphitheater allows for local events to gather people and foster an authentic sense of local community.
Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park Amenities
- Hiking trails
- Snowmobiles allowed
Chugach State Park is a mighty gem in Anchorage's crown, although its reach extends far beyond the city. In fact, this park holds about 495,000 total acres of land, helping it clock in as one of the top four biggest U.S. state parks. This allows it to encompass a tremendous range of landscapes, including members of the Alaska Range and even extending into the Prince William Sound. Glaciers, ice fields, and lakes are all in great, visible abundance at this state park.
As with most state parks, Chugach offers many campgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts to choose from. Many people opt to hike along the vast network of trails through the park, while others kayak their way through the local waterways. There are over 280 actively maintained trails dedicated to just hiking and biking. Other adventurers choose to cross-country ski, snow machine, and bike across the land.
One delightful fact about the park is that, during the months of August and September, the park is full of ripe blueberries that visitors may pick and eat to their heart's content.
Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park
Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park Amenities
- Three playgrounds
- Ski hill with lift
- Waterfowl sanctuary
- Hiking trails
The state-of-the-art playground, newly finished in 2013, at Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park is perhaps the biggest attraction. This playground is broken down into three separate playground sections that appeal to different age groups, optimizing the fun to be had so that it fits every crowd.
This park once included a ski hill and lift, but it has come a long way towards becoming focused instead on conservation efforts. Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park now features a lagoon that serves as a dedicated waterfowl sanctuary around an accessible trail. The Audubon Society remains heavily involved with maintaining this park, along with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Valley of the Moon Park
Valley of the Moon Park Amenities
- Playground for kids
- Chester Creek Trail
- Bike trails
The Valley of the Moon Park features one of the largest available playgrounds in all of Anchorage, housed on its almost 22 acres of land open for community use. Centering around a rocket ship build, this playground has several tiers and slides that help it appeal to playground-goers of all ages. It has a smaller subsection dedicated to younger kids, but it also juggles features like swings that are strong enough to hold adults.
This park has a creek that adds a fun element for walks or even exploration to check out the small wildlife that pops up in the shallow water. There is lots of grass and benches, making this park perfect for groups and picnickers alike, although about half of the park is completely undeveloped. That half of the park holds thick woods, rich with birch, polar, and spruce trees.
Through the Chester Creek Trail, the Valley of the Moon Park is actually connected to the wider network of Anchorage-area bike trails. Park visitors should try to get here earlier in the day wherever possible, because the park and its parking lots can get packed very quickly.
Enjoy the Best Parks in Anchorage
While these six parks include some of the best ways to experience outdoor activities and nature in Anchorage, by no means is this list complete. There is plenty more to see and explore. When contemplating what is available to see and do in Anchorage, consider seeking out the advice of a real estate professional; they will have their finger squarely on the pulse of must-sees as well as coming attractions in the area.