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Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Anchorage, Alaska
Recent User Reviews
Kid-friendly boardwalk and an abundance of wildlife make the Coastal Wildlife Refuge a memorable stoFlag review
A 16-mile stretch of beach grass and mudflats, the Coastal Wildlife Refuge is home to moose, the occasional bear, and birds. Lots and lots of birds. As a popular stopover for migrating geese, swans, Arctic Terns, ducks, and other birds, the refuge is a delightful place to bring kids. While the refuge is a large area, most people congregate at the area known as Potter Marsh, sandwiched in between Old and New Seward Highways. Created when the Alaska Railroad built an embankement in 1917, the marshy land is extremely popular with local residents (human and animal). Featuring a newish, elevated boardwalk upon which anyone can safely view the birds (and spawning salmon during the summer months), the refuge is the site of early-morning bird walks led by Audubon Society members, and annual Potter Marsh Discovery Day each June. Easily identified by the boardwalk that snakes alongside New Seward Highway, the area is free to the public, but has definite times of operation, generally during daylight hours. Head east on the boardwalk and spy moose feeding on lush grasses, view an old beaver dam, or look for the eagle who frequents an ancient cottonwood tree along the hillside. Walk west, and listen for songbirds, ducks, and the occasional swanky swan splashing around in the creek. West is noisiest, however, with the busy highway right at ear level, but kids generally don't mind, and the Alaska Railroad train makes daily appearances in the morning and afternoon.
Tips for Families
Heads up: Do NOT venture out onto the mudflats, ever. These innocuous-looking sandy beaches are full of muddy, silty sand that can trap unsuspecting walkers, leading to disaster. Stay on the boardwalk, and away from the railroad tracks and mudflats. Bring warm clothing any time of year, it can be breezy at Potter Marsh. Add bug spray during the summer months. This is an excellent stop either on the way out of town, or as you arrive back in town after a road trip south. We also like to visit at the end of the day, when the air is still and songbirds fill the air with music. Do watch for moose in the willow thickets. Black bears have been spotted in the area, so be bear-aware!
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