Last Wednesday my boys and I had the opportunity and time to drive down to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This was something I had wanted to do for a while. I had been there with the kids on a couple of fieldtrips, but that was always in May, and usually it was raining, windy, and cold when we were there. Not conducive to walking around and taking your time looking at the animals, nor was it conducive to taking pictures. So I bribed them with a trip to the Anchorage Rock Gym afterward. But, in the end, they had fun at both places.

Today’s blog will be mostly pictures, as that is why I went down, to get some inspiration for painting. But before you see the pictures, I’ll tell you a little bit about it from my “tourist” perspective. I enjoy going to the AWCC because, unlike a zoo, the enclosures are much larger and much more natural. All the animals there are native to Alaska, and they were placed there because they were injured at some point and would normally have had to be put down, but they were brought here for rehab, but are not in a position to be placed back out in the wild. Don’t get me wrong, I love zoos too, but I like the atmosphere of the AWCC as well. The plot of land is not huge, but it isn’t real small either, so there is a lot of walking, however you can drive your car to all the enclosures as well, if walking distances is difficult.

There is a fee for entering, and some tour companies stop and give tours there, but most of the people who come take a self tour. When entering, you get a map with all the different animals, and the website tells of the best times for viewing different animals and when some of them are fed. It took my boys and I about two hours to walk all around, get pictures, and get back to the gift shop. But we weren’t reading all the signage, so if you wanted to make an afternoon out of it, it wouldn’t be hard to do. They also have a couple of food vendors near the gift shop, and of course, a nice gift shop to wander through. A new feature this time was a playground in the back. I thought that was kind of nice if you have kids. No matter how “tired” they are from walking around, they always have a bit of energy to play on a playground. My big teenage boys are no exception.

We went on a Wednesday, so I thought there would be less people. I can’t imagine how busy it would be on a weekend! But, we found parking, and once you get out away from the gift shop and parking lot, everyone is very spread out, doing their own thing. I think the only animal that we didn’t see was the teenage black bear, but we got to see all the other animals, and most were out of their houses and wandering around close enough to really get a good look at. I am so grateful we got to go, the weather was beautiful, my boys had fun, there wasn’t any complaining, and I ended up with some fun pictures to share.

This was a fun experience, and I look forward to going back. What places have you explored this summer that are almost close enough to be your own backyard?

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