What Are Some Little-Known Facts About Anchorage, AK?

Got your sights set on an Anchorage adventure and want to find out more about this captivating city? You’ve come to the right place!  Here at Alaska Trail Guides, we’re always happy to talk about our hometown. In fact, part of what makes our expert-led Anchorage city-biking tours and mountain-biking tours so special is getting to share as much as we can about Anchorage’s intriguing history and quirky culture along the way.

In this guide, we’ll give you a sneak peak into this most unique of cities – so sit back, relax, and join us as we reveal our favorite little-known facts about this polar paradise!

It’s a City Born from Ice

With soaring snow-capped mountains, expansive lakes and seemingly endless panoramas, there’s no better place to feel the power of nature than Anchorage. Add humongous bodies of ice formed by the compression of rock, snow, sediment and water over many centuries, and you’ll truly feel like you’re in another world. 

With 60 glaciers within 50 miles of the city, Anchorage’s glaciers are famously some of the most accessible in the continent. What many people don’t know though, is that there was a time when the entire city was under ice!

And while the glacier that covered Anchorage around 20,000 years ago has long since melted, it’s certainly left its mark on the city. As well as flat terrain, you’ll find many remnants of this historic hangover all around Anchorage – including kettle ponds, large piles of rocky debris called moraines, and the largest glacier in the United States that’s accessible by car, the Matanuska Glacier.

Snow-covered mountains and clear lake under a bright blue sky.

The Iditarod Sets Off from Anchorage

Covering more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km), the Iditarod sled dog race is one of the most intense in the world – and it starts in Anchorage. On the first Saturday in March each year, teams gather on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage before racing all the way to the Campbell Creek Science Center, just south of the Alaska Botanical Garden.

If you’re in Anchorage for the days leading up to the race, you’ll also be able to catch the famous 10-day Fur Rendezvous festival, which includes a snow sculpting competition, the Charlotte Jenson Native Arts Market and the infamous Running of the Reindeer.

Turnagain Arm Was Named After a Failed Expedition

With a tidal range of up to 30 feet, the tumultuous 40-mile (64-km) long waterway known as Turnagain Arm is impressive enough in and of itself. But the legend behind how the area got its name is perhaps even more extraordinary.

It’s believed to have been christened by the British pioneer Captain James Cook, who explored the area all the way back in 1778. Cook hoped to discover a connection to Prince William Sound known as the Northwest Passage, but was sorely disappointed when his scouts found a river instead. 

Determined to locate the passage, he set off to search the area himself. And finding only the same river, he named it ‘Turn Again’ out of frustration – a name that’s stuck even to this day! While not a legendary fabled passage, it’s still a great spot for wildlife-watching, snapping epic photographs of the Chugach and Kenai mountains and hiking.

Prefer to sightsee on two wheels? Whizz and weave past some of Anchorage’s most momentous mountains on our Chugach Mountain Bike Tour, or hit all of the top spots on our Anchorage Greenbelt Bike Tour.

A river, orange and green forest and mountains under a bright sky.

It Hosts the Slippery Salmon Olympics

If live music, parade, games, carnival rides, dancing, races and locally-produced food and drinks sound like your idea of fun, you won’t want to miss the Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River. Usually held in the second week of July, the festival features a whole host of fun and popular pastimes including the Teddy Bear Picnic, The Running of the Bear Race and human foosball. 

Although well worth a visit for these events alone, nothing quite captures the spirit of Alaska like our favorite event: the hilarious Slippery Salmon Olympics. While the race might look like any other at first, there’s a catch: competitors must beat the clock while wrangling the official fish of the festival — a real-life slippery salmon!

It’s the Home of the Midnight Sun

Many people associate Alaska with extended periods of darkness. But did you know that the opposite is also true for a good chunk of the year? Thanks to the city’s high latitude, from late May to mid-July you can expect to enjoy up to 22 hours of daylight each day – and even more time for activities, sightseeing, and fun trips!

This phenomenon also results in breathtakingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so don’t forget to capture the moment with some once-in-a-lifetime snaps.

Sunlight on a large body of water, surrounded by forest.

With its rich history, picturesque panoramas and quirky culture, it’s easy to see why Anchorage is so alluring. And while we’ll never run out of fascinating facts about our all-time favorite city, nothing quite tops discovering it for yourself.

If you’re ready to set off on your arctic-inspired adventure, why not have a look at our full-day Alaska Bike Trip Packages? Led by our local experts, they’re the best way to experience the rugged wilderness and charming culture of this captivating city!

Already got your Alaskan bucket list ready to go? Hit all your top spots with one of our custom Anchorage bike tours, designed specifically around your preferences and ability levels. If you have any questions about our tours, or anything else, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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