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Winter Weekend in Anchorage

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

  • Thunderbird Falls Trailhead
  • Reflections Lake
  • Orso

We were in Anchorage, Alaska for work but had a little free time. We drove about 35 minutes north of downtown to the Thunderbird Falls Trailhead. It’s $5 to park and an easy 1-mile walk to the viewing platform. In winter it’s frozen, so you can’t really tell what you’re looking at from there, though. At the beginning of the platform walkway/railing, there’s a sign to take a trail down downhill to the left that leads to the water. That takes you to the base of the falls, and is a nice walk along the creek. Only need about 30-60 minutes total.

10 minutes north is Reflections Lake, which has a 30-foot viewing tower if you take the trail around the lake. The best view is still obstructed by trees, so I don’t think it’s a must-do. However, the view from the lakeside trail looking across to the mountains is beautiful so it’s worth going around the lake. Only need about 20 minutes.

It had dumped over a foot of snow over the past couple of days and the Eagle River Nature Center was inaccessible, unfortunately. The last 5 miles hadn’t been plowed. That was another stop we wanted to make but couldn’t. There are a couple of easy, short hikes with nice views there. Maybe next time.

Excellent dinner at Orso, great seafood.

Day 2

  • Winner Creek Trail
  • Alyeska Resort & Hotel Alyeska
  • 49th State Brewing Company

This was our only full free day and we originally wanted to rent fat-tire bikes and get out to Knik Glacier. However, all the new snow made that impossible. As if they didn’t have enough, it snowed all through the night and ALL day long. We made the drive south on the Seward Highway to Girdwood, where we had booked a snowmobile tour to get to Spencer Glacier. The views along the drive would have been great but it was close to a whiteout with very little visibility.

We made it to Girdwood and went to the Hotel Alyeska, where the trail to Winner Creek starts. The snowmobile place (Glacier City Tours) was just down the road, so we got there early and had time to do the hike. It was quite a trudge through the snow and we didn’t make it all the way to the creek (2.5 miles one-way) because we had to get back for the tour.

As we got back near the hotel, they called and said the highway was closed much longer than normal, and something had to have happened. They had to cancel the tour last minute because no cars could come or go, and the highway wasn’t expected to open for hours. Bummer. But, there are worst places to be stuck than the best ski resort in the state. Went snowboarding for a few hours then drove back to Anchorage, still snowing the entire time with no views.

Another excellent dinner at 49th State Brewing.

It was pretty disappointing, as the tours went to Spencer Glacier each of the next 4 days we were in Anchorage but that’s when we had to work. Stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook – highly recommend.

I have a feeling we’ll make it to Alaska another time, but probably during the summer.

Traveled in February 2020

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