Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: Portage, Alaska

On the way home from our camping trip to Portage Valley a couple of weeks ago, we stopped into the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Located at mile 79 of the Seward Highway, the AWCC is about 55 minutes outside of Anchorage and is well worth the drive. Opened in 1993, the AWCC is committed to conservation of Alaska's wildlife and educating the thousands of visitors they receive each year.

I hadn't visited the center since my teenage years when I was still living at home, and my have things changed around there! It is such an amazing place to visit, both for adults and for kids of all ages. There is a visitor center with restrooms, a snack bar (well stocked!) and a gift shop.

As for seeing all the animals, there are three different options. You can drive, walk or a combination of both. Personally I would always rather park and walk. That's what we did when we visited, and it worked wonderfully. We brought the stroller which Raina spent most of her time in, and Riggs rode along when he chose to. I can see how it would be nice to drive in inclement weather or if you have someone in your group who can't walk for long distances (I think all the loops combined are about 1.5 miles).

I cannot say enough about the quality of the enclosures, the friendliness of the staff, and the overall experience. We had such a good time, and I could not get over how non-cage like all of the enclosures were. Wide expanses of land have been fenced off for each animal to roam, and the more confining enclosures (for the Lynx and Eagle, for example) were beautifully laid out with plenty of enriching details included to entertain the animals. Each animal had an informational panel (or two or three) and even as a lifelong Alaskan who loves nature and the outdoors, I learned a lot!

Location: 49 miles from Anchorage near Girdwood and Portage
Price: $12.50 per adult; youth (13-18)/seniors/active duty military $9; children 12 & under are free.
Hours: 8am to 8pm every day. Hours change September 17, see their website for more information.

click on photos to see larger versions/slideshow:

Visitor Center with gift shop and cafe at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Grizzly bear putting on a show for the guests during the staff member's presentation at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Wood Bison.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation is involved in an extensive project to reintroduce Wood Bison into the wild in Alaska. 
Herd of male Elk, some of which will be flown to the island of Akun to provide economic diversity and opportunity for the Alaska Native community there on the island.

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