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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Ship Creek
Wildlife Viewing

Coho are among several species of salmon that spawn in Ship Creek.

Ship Creek is a favorite local spot for fishing and shorebird viewing 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 provide not only salmon runs but 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. From the road to the public boat launch, shorebirds can be seen running to and from the waves across the expanse of mudflats. In flight, their large flocks resemble a glittering sheet-as if their shallow dives and sharp turns were all from one form, not from hundreds and sometimes thousands of birds. Low tides offer occasional views of these tiny creatures 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 can be visible near roads and parking areas.

Two miles upstream from the mouth of the creek is the Elmendorf State Hatchery. The lake and adjacent pond provide salmon viewing in the spring and summer. King salmon are present from late May through July, and coho salmon from August through mid-September. The spillway a short distance upstream from the highway overpass is also a good place to view spawning salmon.

While many animals hibernate or seek warmer places 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 for fishing regulations at Ship Creek. For more information contact: 907-267-2233. The salmon viewing area is open from late May through September from 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM.


From downtown Anchorage, take 3rd Street as it winds downward toward the Alaska Railroad station. Pass the railroad (on your left) and turn left on C Street. Take Whitney Road (east) and watch for a stop sign and dam over Ship Creek. For the Elmendorf State Hatchery, take the Glenn Highway east about 1.5 miles from downtown. Turn left on Reeve Boulevard, then right on Post Road. Watch for the parking area on your right.


Trails of Anchorage

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