Leave Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and head down to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground to enjoy the most fun and exciting place in all of the last frontier. On your way down after you pass Girdwood and right before the Whittier turnoff is this magical place known as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. AWCC is ‘dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education and quality animal care.’ Many animals here are rehabilitated before being re-introduced to the wild, while others look so happy that they will probably never want to leave.
The first thing we noticed was all of the little attention-to-detail features. The wildlife theme was carried about from start to finish (and every single place in between). We were also pleasantly surprised by how kind and educated the entire staff was (literally, everyone). Everyone was so nice and helpful and most importantly – enthused! To hear their experiences first hand and feel their love and dedication for the animals was so spectacular. This is truly one of the most incredible places in the entire 49th state.
Next we pulled up to the toll both area where we pay to enter. I believe it was $12.50 per person (adult) of which the money goes back to help feed and take care of the animals at the conservation center. Pretty good deal if you as us! We couldn’t help but love the wooden bear carvings as the sign that showed us all of the animals we were about to see, yippie!
As we pulled around to find a parking spot (which was hard – the place was totally packed), we noticed the bears over to the right. So of course, that was our first stop. BEARS! Eeeeek!
The observation bridge through the bear habitat was packed with people that were just like us – totally fascinated by the enormous mammals.
At one point in time all three bears gathered perfectly into the photo frame while the nibbled on grass and explored their backyard for all of us to swoon over.
The littlest of the three brown bears was actually the oldest (as told by one of the staff). We had to snap a photo because she was looking mighty good for her age!
On the other side were a couple of black bears. They were pretty much basking in the sun and completely ignoring all of the tourists that were gushing over how cute they are.
At one point in time this cutie woke up for a picture. As you can see, he is totally out of it. Shortly thereafter he went right back to sleep and continued ignoring us.
Next we headed over to check out the Musk Ox in the distance.
There was a great deal of education information about these ice age creatures and we were sure to get in plenty of reading while viewing them in the distance.
These stoic animals have such a strong and impressive disposition. Just look at that view… Alaska at it’s finest!
As you will soon find out from the countless photos below, we were kind of obsessed with the Sitka Black-tailed Deer.
The deer and elk were both so fun to observe. Some moved slowly while dining on grass while other just basked in the warm sun.
And of course in true AWCC fashion, the informative signs provided us with a great deal of information including diet, size, weigh, habitat and reproduction.
In this photo you can (sort of) see a tiny little baby nestling next to the center tree. The babies were so adorable it made it very tough to leave. You could truly just sit and stare at them all day long.
We also really enjoyed seeing how these beautiful animals all gathered together like one big happy family. With the tall snow-capped mountains in the background, it made for the perfect photo-op.
We stopped for a good amount of time to take in the wood bison roaming about in the incredibly large (contained) field area.
These two (below) foraged on some grass and contemplated making a move to the other side to join the rest of the group.
The big guy was the first to cross to the other side, but first had to stop for a drink along the way.
Next we made a quick stop to admire the flower garden that doubled as a fork in the road.
We headed over to check out the moose and the small barn-like building with critters inside.
There is great information about moose, the climates they live in and how there antlers grow and shed.
The moose were just chillen out inside enjoying the cool shade in the building. Those antlers are beautiful (and they look so soft)!
On the other side was a couple smaller critters hanging out and enjoying a neat little space.
We snapped a fun photo of this small red fox posing for the camera and taking in the beautiful mountain view.
As we continued our tour inside the open barn area we came across this cool musk ox skull. Pretty fascinating history behind it as you can read below.
Displayed on the wall inside is this massive wood bison hid with information about it. It was actually quite soft to the touch and we would imagine it would keep you very, very warm on a chilly Alaska night.
On the way out we hopped back in the truck and took a journey by the caribou viewing area.
Otherwise known as “reindeer” – these animals are incredible to observe. And check out those beautiful velvety racks, simply stunning!
And in perfectly fitting Alaska fashion – an Alaska flag on the way out. Next to a reindeer cutout, of course!
But wait, there is more! On the other side – an American flag. The best of both worlds collide at the entrance/exit of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We love the little details and as we said before, this place doesn’t leave a single stone unturned.
Be sure to put this magical place on your bucket list before summer is over and winter rolls around. It truly is a place that guarantees endless smiles as you fall in love with the incredible amounts of wildlife that roam the last frontier.