This awesome wilderness, accessible from Anchorage in the Chugach Mountains, has almost half a million acres of jagged peaks, alpine meadows, lakes, glaciers, and marshy tidal flats and shelters an abundant variety of wildlife. More than 20 outstanding trails found in this park include part of the Old Iditarod Trail, used by dogsled teams to speed diphtheria serum to Nome in 1925. The segment of the trail outside the park is part of the course for the grueling Iditarod Dogsled Race, which is held annually in commemoration. Although the trails are easily accessible from heavily populated Anchorage, they are sufficiently numerous to remain peaceful even in summer.
Wildlife here includes beluga whales seeking fish in Turnagain Arm and mountain goats scaling the nearby precipices. Telescopes at the Eagle River Nature Center (reached from Glenn Hwy.) focus on surrounding steep slopes where Dall sheep and black bears are normal sightings. Moose are plentiful, and there is a salmon-viewing deck a short way down a fine nature trail that begins at the attractive log visitors center.
The altitude in the park ranges from sea level to 8,000 feet, and the annual rainfall is from 70 inches in the east to 15 inches in the west. The resulting climatic zones nurture an astonishing and beautiful variety of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, lichens, and mosses.