Anchorage - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Anchorage


Alaska's largest city is the hub of the state, and its central position, mild temperatures and outstanding transport system to and from the rest of the country has made it an important destination for travellers. Perched on the edge of a vast, keenly beautiful wilderness, Anchorage is encompassed in scenic splendour, surrounded by mountains, forest, rivers and tundra. Just a short drive away in any direction offers an abundant variety of wilderness experiences.

The city started out in 1915 as a tent camp for the workers on the Alaska Railroad, and with the later discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, Anchorage's development was fast and furious. Today the sprawling city is full of life but lacking in charm. Alaskans living outside the city complain that Anchorage isn't really Alaska, it is a city on the outskirts of Alaska, and the common joke often heard is 'Anchorage isn't Alaska, but you can see it from there'.

As a cosmopolitan urban sprawl it has similarities with other small American cities, yet it is uniquely Alaskan. Its conservative, transient character is due in part to the fact that many of its residents are from other parts of America, working for a few years and then moving on. The rest of the population is a muddle of Alaskan Native people, oil workers, gold seekers, loggers and fishermen, together with the moose and occasional bear that wander into town. There are some excellent restaurants, museums, a Native cultural centre and shops that, together with its setting, make it a pleasant stopover.

Information & Facts


Anchorage has a subarctic climate characterised by short, cool summers. Average daytime summer highs range from 55°F to 78°F (13°C to 26°C) while average daytime winter temperatures range from 5°F to 30°F (15°C to 1°C).The average winter snowfall is 70.60 inches (179.3 cm). The best time for visitors to travel to Anchorage is the period between May and early September when long days, clear skies and warm afternoons prevail.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

The Alaska Native Heritage Centre is a wonderful place for visitors to learn about the culture and heritage of the native Alaskan people. Indigenous traditions, customs and lifestyles are showcased in the centre's exhibits which include artefacts such as tools, watercraft, clothing, pieces of art and drums. The centre also hosts local storytelling, dancing and craft events. The center is closed in winter, but hosts monthly cultural events. Check the website for a schedule.

Downtown Anchorage hosts the fantastic Anchorage Market & Festival each summer, a great attraction for visitors. The market offers an array of locally-made goods including clothing, paintings, handmade jewellery and babushkadolls (Russian nesting dolls), as well as a great selection of food from all over the world. There are also entertaining music and dance performances to enjoy.

The world-class Museum of History and Art is the largest museum in Alaska and is one of the most visited attractions in Anchorage. The exhibits cover Alaskan history, art and culture, from Native American beginnings to American colonisation.

Famous for its spectacular mountain vistas, abundant wildlife, glaciers, vast expanses of sub-arctic tundra, and North America's highest mountain, Mt McKinley, Denali National Park and Preserve is a real wilderness area that attracts millions of visitors a year. More than six million acres encompass grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, wolves and numerous species of birds. The main attraction is the snow-covered massif of Mt McKinley, towering 20,320ft (6,096m) above the peaks of the Alaska Range, the definitive symbol of untamed Alaska. On a clear day its twin peaks can be seen from Anchorage, 149 miles (240km) away. The Alaska Range divides the park into north and south sides, the majority of visitors accessing the north where the main visitors centre is located. Mountaineers seeking out the challenges of Mt McKinley need to access the park from the south side, and other peaks offer excellent climbing opportunities for those not wishing to risk the mountain that affords one of the world's most difficult climbs. The park region also offers a wide variety of activities including day hikes or backcountry hiking, camping, mountain biking, white-water rafting and ice climbing. Early June or late September is the best time to avoid the crowds.

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