Wildlife and Bird Viewing
The Valley is home to a wide variety of Alaska's wildlife. Moose are plentiful as are a wide variety of birds and waterfowl, including the bald eagle. It is not unusual to see a black bear, even in populated areas. Wolves, rabbits, fox, mink, lynx, beaver, muskrats, porcupines, and squirrels are frequently seen. Denali State Park, located in the foothills of the Alaska Range, is a haven for moose, caribou, fox, Dall sheep, wolves, mountain goats, marmots, lynx and many species of birds.
Moose are found all over the Mat-Su Valley. Keep an eye on the rivers and ponds just off our highways for a chance to see these large creatures. Winter is a particularly good time to spot them as well. The Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge is a likely place to see moose.
Fun Fact: Moose are actually part of the deer family and can run up to speeds of 35 mph.
These relatives of the reindeer are found in the northern and eastern reaches of the Mat-Su. Caribou travel in impressive herds along the Denali Highway and near Lake Louise off the Glenn Highway.
Fun Fact: Caribou travel greater distances each year than any other land mammal - up to 3,000 miles.
Both brown bear and black bear can be found in the valley. Spotting bears is easiest on a flightseeing tour or by hiking off the main road system. However, you want to keep your distance when viewing bears and take the necessary precautions by making noise while hiking so as not to surprise a bear!
Fun Fact: Bears have good eyesight. They can see colors, form, and movement but prefer to trust their more sensitive senses of smell and hearing.
Opportunities to see Dall Sheep are the best off the Glenn Highway at Sheep Mountain, high in the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountain ranges. Bring your binoculars though; these animals blend right in with the surrounding rocks.
Fun Fact: To determine the age of a male Dall sheep, count the number of rings on its curls horns.
RECOMMENDED WILDLIFE VIEWING GUIDES AND RESOURCES:
Alaska Wildlife Viewing Guide
Authors: Michelle Sydeman and Annabelle Lund