The wildflowers are abundant and verdant undergrowth can be check high sometimes. Most of the trail lies below treeline, so there are established camp clearings along the way that are nestled into the trees. One of the best campsites is 10 miles in from the northern trailhead, set among trees on a spruce-covered knoll looking over the trail and Bench Lake.
This trail is a good day hike for the whole family. It alternates between open meadows and forests and offers the option of tent camping or staying in Crescent Lake Cabin. There are options for longer hikes and there is a lot of wildlife to be seen such as moose, goats and bears.
Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood (45 minutes south of Anchorage) is one of our favorite trails to take visiting friends and family. It’s an easy 3-mile hike or bike ride on a wide, well-developed trail with gentle elevation gain that winds through America’s northernmost rainforest, crosses a wooden bridge over a thundering blue-water gorge, connects to a hand tram high above thrashing Glacier Creek, then ends on Crow Creek Mine Road just below the mine.
Portage was once a roadside glacier, but it recedes an average of one foot a day and is now no longer visible from the road. However, its big blue icebergs are often found along the shore of the lake, right in front of the parking area. You can see the lake in a half hour, but may want to spend time at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center (½-1 hour), take the boat cruise (1 hour), or have lunch at the local cafeteria.
Directions: Head south from Anchorage on the Seward Highway, to the end of the 5-mile Portage Spur Road. You can visit the face of Portage by tour boat from the dock at the lake. Bring a light jacket, as winds tend to pick up around the face of the glacier itself.
Distance: 48 miles south of Anchorage.
Drive Time: 1 hour.
Explore Time: 1-4 hours.
Popular with hikers and backpackers, this easy-to-follow trail connects the state’s most intense sockeye salmon sports fishery with stunning mountain backcountry. It offers many of the Kenai Peninsula’s highlights in one trip. The 21-mile route accesses Russian River Falls, Lower and Upper Russian Lakes, Cooper Lake, 3 federally managed recreational cabins, and numerous campsites
Well-maintained and suitable for summer hiking and biking, the 10-mile Devil’s Pass Trail features a steep route up a spectacular V-shaped valley that intersects with the Resurrection Pass Trail and a rental cabin in the alpine realm. The country is rugged, with great access to cross-country tundra exploration and berry picking.
If you want a great workout—to stunning mountain views high above the valley floor below—but want to save your knees on the way down, this trail is for you. It leaves from the Alyeska Resort tram building and climbs steep switchbacks 2.2 miles and 2000 feet to the mid-mountain restaurant where you can catch a free aerial tram ride back down to the hotel.
At the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center’s mission is to provide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill animals—those that can't survive in the wild. The center, which opened to the public in 1993, educates visitors about Alaska's wildlife. Coyotes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a grizzly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal flat terrain, as part of a program that will one day restore the species to the Alaskan wilderness. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. Come be a part of these exciting programs and watch these animals display their natural, “wild”, behavior.
Black Sand Beach is a popular place for sea kayakers to camp in Prince William Sound. Look for them standing on the beach! It will give you some perspective on how enormous the surrounding glaciers and mountains are. With water cascading down from the hanging glaciers, sea life playing among the ice bergs and a commanding view of Barry Arm, Black Sand Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches in Alaska.
Alaska River Adventures Kenai River rafting trips are some of its most popular and accessible excursions – and are a great value too. Full day trips showcase 19 miles of Alaska wild from Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake, giving plenty of time for spotting wildlife, historic spots and gorgeous views from all angles. When you have just a few hours, a scenic and serene 14-mile float of the Upper Kenai River provides a variety of sights, from historic Cooper Landing and the world famous Russian River combat fishing area, to spectacular views of the Kenai itself.
For an otherworldly encounter with a famous glacier you can’t easily approach or even glimpse during summer, lead the family across frozen Portage Lake to a fantastic wall of jumbled, blue ice. Once the lake surface has frozen solid, people flock across on foot, ice skates, skis and bikes. 50 miles from Anchorage.
Spencer Glacier rises 3,500 feet in a stunning, natural ramp from a lake of royal-blue icebergs in the Chugach National Forest just 60 miles south of Anchorage. It’s a family-friendly recreation destination featuring camping, hiking, glacier exploration, nature walks, paddling and sightseeing. Maybe best of all: You have to take a train to get there!
This beach has all the amenities of a perfect kayak camp spot. A raging river splits the cobble beach in two, and a hanging glacier provides the perfect background for a few packed, grassy tent spots. Within a morning paddle distance from Meares Glacier, Brilliant Beach is an excellent launching point. The beach is safe from the highest tides, and is long enough for multiple parties More...
Lazy Otter offers classic tours, but this is a water taxi, so they’ll also take you anywhere you want to go within Price William Sound—or just customize a tour to whatever you want to see. Maybe that's glaciers, or whales,—or maybe it’s quiet time on a secluded beach. Lazy Otter can also help facilitate taking you and your family on a camping trip. You're not held to any strict schedule, either: if, on a day tour, you can spend more time in one spot if you want to see if a glacier will calve.
Explore Prince William Sound in a unique sailing kayak for a super-safe, comfortable and hands-free journey that uses wind and pedal power over paddling. Half-day, all-day and multi-day adventures reveal glaciers, marine wildlife and a phenomenal perspective of a remote and wondrous natural world.
Columbia glacier is located in Prince William Sound. At over 550 meters thick at some points and covering an area of 400 square miles, this glacier is a sight to behold, whether from a boat or the sky. It snakes its way 32 miles through the Chugach Mountains before dumping into the Columbia Bay, about 40 miles by boat from Valdez.
A wonderful beach campsite for a calm day. Surrounded on two sides by the sea, this campsite has beautiful views out to Nellie Juan-College Fjord and over to Perry and Knight Island. Large durable camping area, but beware of high tides. Both beaches are steep unless at low tide and could be used as a water taxi drop off location.
June - September
Rent a mountain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some crampons and go trekking on a glacier.
Rent a mountain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of…
Mid-April – Late September
Touring the spectacular tidewater glaciers of Prince William Sound is even more exciting when you do it on a Jet Ski. Go with Alaska Wild Guides out of Whittier to experience the area’s unique sights and sounds while skimming across the top of the water on your own personal watercraft.
Fishing the Kenai Peninsula is pretty much the ultimate for fishermen the world over, and with Alaska River Adventures, even beginners do well. This area is famous for salmon (Kings, reds and silvers), rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden, which Alaska River Adventures can help you find in the amazing green of the Kenai River and other points along the Peninsula. Alaska River Adventure guides have been fishing these waters for years. They're patient educators – and will help all levels of anglers with proper fishing techniques. So whether you go out for a half-day, full day or fly-in fishing experience, you know you’ll learn something and have fun doing it – no gear required.
Where will you find Alaska's best salmon fishing? The Kenai Peninsula is hard to beat. Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) has specialized in fishing the Upper Kenai River between Kenai and Skilak Lakes since 1977. Their professional guides are experts in fly-fishing, drift fishing, and back trolling, so you can fish from the boat, the bank, or both. Expect an exciting day of fishing for salmon (red, silver, or king depending on the season), as well as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden.
Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise, out of Whittier, will take you to 26 different glaciers in just 5 hours. Enjoy cozy comforts on the high-speed catamaran and wander its outdoor decks as you come within 300 feet of massive tidewater glaciers. In addition to glaciers, the captain will be on the lookout for wildlife like otters, whales, harbor seals, and marine birds. The trip takes place in the afternoon, and a hot lunch is included in your tour.
Deep enough to submerge an 80-story building, the lake was carved out over thousands of years of glacial advances. While Salmon make their way into the lake, you may not see them due to the immense deposits of glacial silt. The silt also protects them from predators such as birds and larger fish. However, they eventually make their way to clearer waters. Look for dense blue icebergs from Portage Glacier blown to shore.
The last two aerial photographs in this group of five document changes that occurred during the 69 years between June 1937 and July 28, 2006. Both photographs are taken towards the north and show the retreating, calving, tidewater terminus of Yale Glacier, located at the head of Yale Arm, College Fiord, Prince William Sound, Alaska. In 1937, Yale Glacier’s terminus was More...
A wonderful treasure for the paddlers wanting to be in the middle of Prince William Sound. This site is well protected between two halves of Olsen Island and has well established camping spots for many tents in the forest, and good trees for hanging food. The beach is steep and wide with oyster catchers patrolling the shore. Freshwater is not on the island, but can be found in the More...
A large, popular beach for camping and water taxi drop offs and pick ups. Only 17 miles from Whittier it is often a first or last camp spot for intermediate paddlers without a water taxi. This beach provides large durable camping areas and fresh glacial streams in the vicinity.
The six-room B&B, in a log building, is strictly no-frills, but you’ll find clean, comfortable rooms with one double bed and one twin bed. While they may be basic, you won’t find more affordable lodging in the area—there’s even a continental breakfast. It’s the perfect choice for hardcore fishermen and adventurers who want a warm, clean, affordable room to return to in the evening.
Beginning 103 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway, the 3.5-mile-long Ptarmigan Lake Trail makes for a fine family outing. The lake itself is a long and narrow body of water squeezed between ridges and mountains that tower as high as 6,000 feet. It even offers a small beach upon which to relax and enjoy the view while cooling your feet.
If you have some outdoor experience and an adventurous spirit, consider this 11-mile traverse up the Colorado Creek valley and down the Summit Creek. Beginning 2 hours south of Anchorage, this traverse doesn’t involve any rock scrambling, river crossings, or arduous bushwhacking. But if you feel comfortable hiking in wide and trackless country, you may reap the reward of having an entire valley to yourself.
Six Mile Creek is one of the most famous—and most challenging—whitewater runs in the entire state of Alaska. Your heart will be pounding and your muscles burning as you paddle through rapids called “Big Rock Drop,” “Suckhole,” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”
A stretch of exposed bedrock southeast of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm was gouged and polished by mile-thick glaciers during the last ice age. The grooves appear as smooth channels carved into the rock itself by almost unimaginable forces. Some are subtle, like ripples, and hard to see. Others are large enough to lie inside on a sunny afternoon.
This remote site is accessible by boat or floatplane. Chalmers River is located about 3/4 mile north of a Forest Service public cabin on the northwest side of Montague Island in Prince William Sound. Spawning Pink and Chum salmon can be seen in the intertidal areas and a short distance upstream. Best salmon viewing times are late July through August with peak times in More...
Learn how the fish are raised from small alevin to fry and beyond to smolt size before being released into surrounding lakes and bays. Depending on the fish cycle, there may or may not be fish to view, so please call ahead. If there are no fish to be seen, you're welcome to look at a small photo gallery and learn about the fish production cycle, and understand why More...
Late November - Mid April
Alyeska Resort is famous for its downhill skiing and snowboarding for a reason—it’s truly world-class, featuring tons of snow, steep mountains, and views that stretch on forever. But there are a ton of other winter activities that make Alyeska an epicenter for winter adventure. Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on one of the area trails; or head off into the backcountry with a guide for some heli- or cat-skiing; try a snowmobile excursion; or just take a tour of the mountain and experience its unforgettable views.
Alyeska Resort is famous for its downhill skiing and snowboarding for a reason—it’s truly world-class, featuring…
Alaska Wildland Adventures pioneered floating the mellow, turquoise Kenai River and has operated continuously since 1977. Join them for a serene 2-hour float, or take on a 7-hour adventure, complete with fun Class II+ rapids and a cruise through a glacial lake. AWA's Kenai River Scenic Float Trip offers a nice introduction to the river, taking you along a stretch of the scenic Upper Kenai closed to motorized boats. Watch for wildlife as your guide navigates you through the mountain scenery of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Take off in a helicopter for the thrilling experience of heli-flightseeing, landing on a glacier, donning crampons and a helmet, and safely exploring the blue ice. It’s an exciting, educational half-day trip that you won’t soon forget.
The original hallmark trip that got the Alaska Railroad to bring the Glacier Discovery to Spencer Glacier in 2002. This is one of the most scenic glacier river trips in Alaska and a perfect float for all ages. Your trip begins with a scenic ride on Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery train, which runs from Anchorage, Girdwood, and other pick-up points along the railbelt. Enjoy a beautiful ride down Turnagain Arm and the Placer River Valley and into remoter areas of Alaska that you can’t get to by car. Disembark at the Spencer Glacier Whistlestop, and gear up for an exploration of the iceberg-choked Spencer Lake and points beyond.
This salmon viewing opportunity is located at Mile 4 of the Portage Highway. Look for a paved lot on south side of road and a Salmon Viewing sign. The viewing platform is handicap accessible and overlooks Williwaw Creek. Spawning sockeye, chum, and coho salmon arrive in late-July and remain throughout early fall with the best viewing in mid to late-August. In addition to salmon, you More...
This 2-mile-long, family-friendly trail, which begins 90 minutes south of Anchorage at the far end of the Whittier Tunnel, remains the only easy way to see Portage Glacier on foot. And it’s has a spectacular conclusion: After cresting Portage Pass, the trail drops through glacial scrub before popping out on the wide gravel shores of Portage Lake, directly across from the snout of gorgeous Portage Glacier.
Cascade Bay, at the Northwest end of Eaglek Bay, holds the treasure of the largest waterfall in Prince William Sound. There is no lack of freshwater in the Bay, with another reasonable water source coming in just to the East of the Falls. Be prepared for the noise of the falls, and tons of jellyfish!