Alaska is home to some of the best birding in North America. Our boundless wilds lands provide a habitat for countless shorebirds, seabirds, songbirds, and waterfowl. The Mat-Su Valley, in particular, is a birder’s paradise, with opportunities to see hundreds of species throughout the year. All you have to do is keep your eyes on the skies! Here are some of the best spots for birding in Alaska as well as tips to help you treasure the moment.
Birdwatching is just one of many outdoor activities to enjoy in the Mat-Su Valley. Find out what else our area has to offer when you download our free Vacation Guide! It’s full of recommendations for fun things to do, including fly fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and more.
Where to Go Birding in Alaska
1. Denali National Park
Whether you visit in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, Denali National Park is a fantastic location for birdwatching. Over 160 species call the park home in the summertime, and hardy year-round residents can be seen wandering through the snow during the frigid winter months. Common sightings include willow ptarmigan (the Alaska state bird), northern wheatears, arctic tern, and white-crown sparrows, just to name a few.
To start your birding adventure, take a bus to the park or go for a hike. Guided tours are also available during the summer months. Read our blog for details.
2. Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge
Palmer Hay Flats is one of the most popular birding spots in all of Alaska. It was even designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Raptors like hawks and owls can be seen here during migration, and warblers, sparrows, and thrushes frequent the area. Of course, one of the best times to visit is spring, when thousands of migrating ducks, geese, swans, and other shorebirds stop in the Hay Flats to refuel.
3. Sheep Mountain
Are you planning a day trip on the Glenn Highway? Be sure to check out the Sheep Mountain area. It’s particularly popular during late April when the annual Hawkwatch takes place. During this time, you’ll have the chance to see rare species like the arctic warbler, gyrfalcon, white-winged crossbill, and northern hawk owl. Have your binoculars ready!
Local Tip: When your stomach starts to rumble, head to Sheep Mountain Lodge for lunch. This cozy log cabin is a great place to stretch your legs and serves up everything from fresh Alaskan seafood to steaks and homemade desserts.
4. Hatcher Pass
Winding through the southwest part of the Talkeetna Mountains, Hatcher Pass is a haven for serious birders. In the spring and fall, visitors can drive along Hatcher Pass Road and watch for ducks, finches, flycatchers, and even trumpeter swans. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot difficult to find species like gray-cheeked thrush and wandering tattlers.
5. Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park offers a glimpse into Alaska’s spectacular marine world. The park’s shallow bays and estuaries attract a wide variety of coastal bird species, including:
- Bald eagles
- Black-billed Magpies
- Black oystercatchers
- Marbled murrelets
- Peregrine falcons
- Steller’s Jay
Keep in mind that only one part of Kenai Fjords National Park is accessible by road: the Exit Glacier area. Driving up the 8.6-mile road (usually open between May and November) offers views of the birds mentioned above. Another great option is to sign up for a boat tour to learn more about the park and its wildlife.
Come Home to Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages
Now that you know all about birding in Alaska, it’s time to start planning your trip to The Last Frontier! Our Palmer bed and breakfast is an ideal home base and offers an easy drive to the birding spots mentioned above. Plus, all of our accommodations come with a delicious, hot breakfast each morning. What’s better than that? Check our availability online or give us a call at (907) 746-2333 to make your reservations today. We look forward to having you!
Find out how you can make your Alaska vacation even more memorable with our Extended Stay Special.