Road trip to Anchorage: Wildlife Conservation Center, Zoo, and Denali

June 1st, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Travel

After escaping the town of Whittier we decided to stop by the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center on the way back to Anchorage. It’s about 15 minutes away from Whittier and right on Highway One. The center features lot of big animals in beautiful, large, habitats. You can walk or drive the two mile loop to visit the various exhibits.

With the baby in tow we drove most of it, but got out at a few spots to let him see the animals.
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The timing was perfect for us to see the brown bear playing around in the water an walking right by the small crowd of people there. Watching him take a bath was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Of course there was a nice electric fence separating us, but with the snowy mountains in the background it was easy to imagine this is just what he’d be doing in the wild. FullSizeRender (2)

Once we left the center we realized we didn’t have time to go out to eat anywhere. Traveling with the baby went much more smoothly than I anticipated, and the only thing we didn’t do that we would have liked to was eat out a few times. Between his naps we tried to optimize our time in Anchorage and prioritized sight seeing over eating.

Still, we got Buffalo Wild Wings to go to eat at our hotel and it was amazing. We don’t have any chain restaurants in Fairbanks aside from a few fast food places so we both enjoyed getting some of our old favorites. I didn’t realize they could use a black bean burger in place of any regular burger so I got this deliciously spicy monstrosity. IMG_1626

Sunday morning we spent some time at the lake behind the hotel after breakfast. Everything in Alaska seems more vivid and vibrant!IMG_1638

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We checked out of the hotel and got to the Anchorage Zoo a few minutes before they opened at 9 a.m.. I love going to the zoo, but I also feel bad for the animals there. I was excited to go to the Anchorage Zoo after hearing that most of their animals are rescues. Most of the animals had signs up explaining how they had been found injured and were unable to be returned back to their homes. IMG_1685

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The zoo was pretty small, but overall we were both happy we decided to go. Little man didn’t show too much interest in the animals yet. IMG_1683

He did have fun at the petting zoo. He got to pet a few goats and check out a big black bunny. IMG_1689

After spending some time at the zoo we hit the road around 11 a.m. to head home. As with the way down we stopped at the Target in Wasilla (about an hour North of Anchorage) to help break up the trip. We ate lunch there, and I scored some more clothes and saved 30% thanks to the Cartwheel app. I ended up getting a few shirts, two pairs of shorts, a necklace and a gorgeous summer dress. I’m all set for the rest of the year now! I think it was just about $100 total. I love Target.

A few hours later we stopped at the Southern viewing point for Denali. It is so hard to capture how massive these mountains are in photos. Denali is about 20,000 feet tall! They had this landscape painting that lined up with the mountains showing what the elevation for the various peaks.IMG_1714

This photo was taken about 40 miles away from Denali. Again, it’s virtually impossible to really understand how big that is unless you are there looking at it!IMG_1715

We made it home around 7 p.m. and immediately started bedtime routine for baby. I got all of our stuff unpacked and put away, did a load of laundry, and washed my car at 10 p.m. in the bright daylight. The sun sets around midnight here so at 10 p.m. it was just as light out as if it was 5 p.m. back in Florida.

It’s crazy to think we are three months away from hitting our one year mark of moving here already. There are so many other things we’d like to do here before we get stationed somewhere else (sled dog racing, panning for gold, camping, whale watching, train rides,….) I’m also pushing for a week long vacation to Hawaii next Summer since we’re ‘only’ a six hour flight away!

Would you prefer an Alaskan vacation, or Hawaii?

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6 Responses

  • giannanicole22 says:

    I love that the zoo animals are rescues!

    I think I would have to choose Alaska over Hawaii. Never been to either but I feel like Alaska would offer a more unique experience vs Hawaii. I love beaches and sun and water but have been all over the Caribbean – I know not the same but still Alaska is just so breathtaking! I love all your posts.

    • Erica House says:

      Travis was really pulling for us to put Hawaii down as a choice of duty stations last year. I swayed him to do Alaska instead! After living in FL for so long I was sick of the water. Now, I kind of wish we had done Hawaii!

  • Christina says:

    I feel like I can understand how big that mountain is. When I lived in California last year, my boyfriend convinced me to travel up a mountain to go sledding. It was a lot of fun, but the 8,000 feet was too much for me. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as Alaska looks, though. That is one thing I kind of regret not doing when I lived in SoCal was never going to Hawaii while I was so close (compared to Northwest Florida).

  • Omg I can’t believe it’s almost been a year. That’s nuts!

  • Faith says:

    Beautiful article! Lovely pictures, too. I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska. I would love to go to Katmai and see the bears in the wild [from a safe distance ;)].

    I would take Alaska, hands down, any day, over the heat! I grew up in Cali, and fell in love with the Pacific northwest later. I don’t like to settle. I like the mountains AND the beach. Fishing, hiking, trail running, traversing the back trails, finding hidden waterfalls.. that’s my paradise.

    Unfortunately, I’m stuck in southeast Florida at the moment. I feel like I’m on another planet. It takes six hours for the terrain to even look any different, bleh! 90 degrees in the shade at 5am and winter here means 80’s instead of 90’s. Hard to find anything to do outdoors here that’s tolerable for about 10-11 months out of the year due to the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes! Even the water is too warm for me. Not refreshing. My husband moved here from Hamburg (I met him while visiting a friend) and for him, it’s his paradise. He has acclimated to the warmer temps. I don’t think I could blast him out!

    Now, the panhandle is beautiful. White sand, turquoise water, and I don’t think it’s as insane as it is here with all the traffic and crowds. Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but this really was a nice ‘escape.’ Love to see the beauty this world has to offer.

    • Erica House says:

      I was stuck in Florida for over 20 years, so I feel your pain! I’m from FWB and Pensacola. I *hated* it the last few years I was there. Of course, now that I’m in Alaska, I miss it like crazy!