Visit Potter Marsh in Anchorage: Summer vs Winter

Potter Marsh is a 0.5-mile wooden boardwalk trail that parallels the Seward Highway in Anchorage and is known for it’s incredible wildlife viewing, especially for bird watching.

It’s part of the 16-mile Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, and it makes a great addition to any Anchorage itinerary.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Anchorage during summer or winter, I’m going to tell you how to visit Potter Marsh!

Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)

chugach mountains anchorage turnagain arm

Quick Tips

  • Parking is free
  • Bathrooms are available on site
  • Open year-round
  • Bring binoculars or telephoto lens
  • Moose are most active early mornings and late evenings

How do you get to Potter Marsh?

By Car – Potter Marsh is located in south Anchorage near to Rabbit Creek. There is a designated parking lot if you want to access the boardwalk. There are also pullouts along the highway if you want to see other parts of the marsh.

If you travel from Anchorage to Whittier or Seward on the Alaska Railroad, you will be able to see the marsh from the train.

Potter Marsh History

Back in the day, the marsh didn’t exist. It was the result of building the embankment for the Alaska Railroad. The embankment was built in 1917 and it cut off the tide from Turnagain Arm and restricted the flow of Rabbit Creek.

All of this eventually created the 564-acre freshwater marsh along the Seward Highway that we see today.

Wildlife Viewing at Potter Marsh

Potter Marsh is one of the most accessible and scenic wildlife viewing areas in Anchorage and it’s home to over 130 different bird species!

From the parking lot, you can access a wooden boardwalk that winds through the marshland. As you walk along the boardwalk, you can read many interpretative signs about the different local habitats and wildlife species.

potter marsh boardwalk trail

Potter Marsh in Spring (April to May)

After winter break-up, hundreds of migrating birds arrive on the marsh. Species that arrive in April include Canada geese, northern pintails, canvasback ducks, red-necked phalaropes, horned and red-necked grebes, and northern harriers.

May is when gulls, Arctic terns, yellowlegs, and trumpeter swans are present during spring migration. This is also a good time to see moose.

Potter Marsh in Summer (June to July)

Summer is a great time to see breeding pairs of birds. Lots of waterfowl can be found navigating the marshes, including dabbling ducks, diving ducks, sea ducks, geese, and swans.

You can also see salmon (Chinook, coho, and pink) in Rabbit Creek, which flows beneath a section of the boardwalk. Bald eagles can be found soaring above or nesting in nearby cottonwood trees.

potters marsh anchorage
anchorage coastal widlife refuge

Potter Marsh in Fall (August to October)

Fall is another time to see migratory birds. The mated black-billed swans are a favorite amongst birders and photographers.

In addition to birds, look for moose, beavers, brown and black bears, and muskrats.

trumpeter swans potter marsh anchorage

Potter Marsh in Winter

If you’re looking for a quick adventure near Anchorage in winter, then I definitely recommend a trip here.

In the coldest months of the year (December to February), the marsh freezes and creates an amazing maze of trails that are perfect for ice skating.

This is also a great place for fat biking, especially when there’s a nice crust of snow on top of the frozen ice.

During the winter months, the parking lot is still open, but if you want to get onto the marsh then the highway pullouts is definitely a more convenient option.

backcountry potter marsh ice skating alaska

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Potter Marsh?

Dogs are prohibited during the summer months.

Can you fish in Potter Marsh?

Fishing is prohibited in Potter Marsh.

Pin For Later

Potter Marsh in Anchorage Alaska is a great place to visit for photographers and birders. Over 130 bird species can be found here so its a great place to stop along the Turnagain Arm for wildlife viewing. Its a quick day trip from Anchorage. #alaska #travelalaska #anchorage

Do you have any questions on Potters Marsh in Anchorage? Let me know in the comments.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

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