Ship Creek is a favorite local fishing and shorebird viewing spot near downtown in the industrial environment of the Port of Anchorage. With the Anchorage skyline as backdrop, the mud and sedge flats and ocean-fed waters support salmon runs and provide habitat for plovers, sandpipers, godwits, and other migrating shorebirds.
Ship Creek runs through the port and alongside the ocean waters of Cook Inlet. High tides combined with the marshy mudflats close to roadways provide excellent shorebird viewing. A variety of shorebirds, including the Hudsonian godwit, turnstones, surfbirds, and semipalmated, western, and least sandpipers, are often seen during spring and fall migrations. Low tides offer occasional views of these birds flitting along the mud flats or flying in groups just above the shore. High tides push shorebirds closer to shore. When the tide begins to recede, large numbers may be visible near roads and parking areas.
Two miles upstream from the mouth of the creek at the corner of Reeve Blvd. and Post Road is the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery. Open to the public, you are welcome to stop by from 8 am to 4 pm and take a walk through the visitor corridor. This space was set aside for public access to allow viewing of hatchery activity. There is a foot path outside the facility allowing access to view Ship Creek. From early July through September adult salmon can often be seen in this stretch of the creek. Returning Chinook (king) and coho (silver) salmon are collected and held in two raceways located creek side. Hatchery staff will collect eggs from these fish to begin the next production cycle. King salmon are present from late May through July, and coho salmon from August through mid-September. The Knik Arm Power Plant dam and spillway a short distance upstream from the highway overpass is also a good place to view spawning salmon.
While many animals hibernate or head for warmer climates during Alaska's winters, a few hardy birds, like the common merganser, green-winged teal, and bufflehead, may be seen toughing it out through the snowy season at the pond near the hatchery.
Viewing and Safety Tips
Never walk on the mudflats! Tides move extremely fast, and an unwary adventurer can easily get trapped in the sticky mud. Do not disturb, chase, or feed shorebirds or ducks. Check with the local Fish & Game office or the online Southcentral Alaska Fishing Regulations for fishing regulations at Ship Creek. For more information contact: 907-267-2218. The best time to visit the salmon viewing area by the hatchery is from July through September when the salmon are running.
To access the Ship Creek Overlook from downtown, take E street north from West 3rd Ave. After E Street turns into North C Street and crosses a bridge over the river, take a right onto Whitney Street. Drive about 1 mile to the parking area adjacent to the Ship Creek Overlook. For the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, take the Glenn Highway east about 1.5 miles from downtown. Turn left on Reeve Boulevard and watch for the parking area on your right.