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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ride the rails, sea kayak through an iceberg-strewn lake and explore a glacier, all in one trip! Locally-owned Ascending Path designed this awe-inspiring outing, packing several exciting elements into one satisfying day. Trusted by locals and Hollywood producers alike, Ascending Path will take you on an unforgettable Alaska adventure.
Grouse Creek runs adjacent to the Seward Highway. To access this creek, exit onto the paved pullout at mile 8.3. There's a Chugach National Forest sign here too that marks the spot. From late- July to mid-September, you will be able to view sockeye salmon with the best chance of seeing fish in mid-August.
If you have the ability to transport bicycles, this trail makes for a great afternoon trip. The dirt path winds through the Portage Valley, passing glacial lakes and ending at Portage Lake (this part of the trip is 5 miles each way). Make sure to bring your camera: you’ll see hanging glaciers and, very likely, some wildlife.
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.
This meandering, single-track path leads to some of the Kenai Mountain’s most remote and fragile high country. On a route once trekked by gold rush prospectors, this trail ascends from spruce forest through the jungled zone of alders into a realm of sweeping tundra, with incredible views and productive berry picking. Plus, the top of the nine-mile journey ends in Resurrection Pass, about midway through the 39-mile Resurrection Pass Trail.
The famous surveyor Mendenhall named this glacier for a miner who was carrying mail from Cook Inlet to Whittier in 1896, disappeared in a snowstorm, and was never seen again. His brother Willard (who gives his name to the nearby island) searched for him but found only the mail packet atop the glacier which now bears his name.
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.
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.
Portage Valley may be one of the most popular visitor destinations in Alaska, but don't let that scare you away. The truth is that most people stop at the visitor’s center for a quick walkthrough, take a photo on the deck and then get back on the road, to Whittier or elsewhere. And while it’s true that the valley's blue ice and glacial scenery is outstanding from More...
This 38 mile long USFS trail starts in Hope and climbs Resurrection Pass (elev. 2,600) towards the south before descending to the opposite trailhead near Cooper Landing. There are 8 public use cabins along the trail, making this an advanced but comfortable day cabin-to-cabin hike. There are also 19 campsites available for tent camping.
This salmon viewing location includes an all-acccessible viewing platform overlooking the creek as well as viewing opportunties along Ptarmigan Creek trail. Sockeye salmon will be in the creek from late July to early October with the best viewing in mid-August. Vehicle parking is in the day use area inside Ptarmigan Creek Campground.
This 38 mile long USFS trail climbs Resurrection Pass (elev. 2,600) and descends to the north to another trailhead trailhead near Hope on Turnagain Arm. There are 8 public use cabins along the trail, making this an advanced but comfortable day cabin-to-cabin hike. There are also 19 More...
Operated by the non-profit Alaska Mountain and Wilderness Huts Association, Manitoba Cabin is intended to promote wilderness experience and camaraderie in the spirit of European-style trekking huts. While very popular among backcountry skiers during winter weekends, the facility often has openings during weekdays. During the summer, you might have the entire place to yourself.
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.
Facing Beloit Glacier, 17 Mile Lagoon and the nearby Eagle´s Nest beaches are popular beaches for kayaking trips nearby the tidewater glaciers. This point is easy to find as it lies just on the glacier side of the very shallow terminal moraine of Beloit Glacier on Willard Island.
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.
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.
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.
Crafton Island will amaze everyone! Overhanging cliffs and caves, green-blue waters, cobbled beaches, and fantastic views. You also get great exposure to Knight Island Passage and greater Prince William Sound. Few beaches are comparable to those on Crafton Island.
Year round, closed for maintenance Oct 8 - Nov 21 & Apr 23 - May 11
The Alyeska Resort’s Aerial Tramway is a seven-minute ride that lifts you to a viewing deck with breathtaking panoramic views of mountains, hanging glaciers, streams, spruce, and an array of wildlife. Enjoy a relaxed midday picnic or beautiful evening sunset on Mt. Alyeska's observation deck, more than 2,000 feet above sea level. Telescopes intensify what Conde Nast Traveler Magazine rated the best view of any U.S. ski resort. Go exploring, berry picking, and paragliding, and take a hike on the glacier.
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...
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.
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.
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 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...
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 2000 photograph documents the continuing advance of Harvard Glacier, which has completely obscured the view of Radcliff Glacier. Baltimore Glacier has continued to retreat and thin. Alder has become established on the hill slopes, but is difficult to see from the photo location. Harvard Glacier has advanced more than 1.25 kilometers (0.78 miles) since 1909. (USGS Photograph by Bruce F. Molnia).
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.
May - Sept
Lazy Otter offers offers double and single kayak rentals, and transportation to secluded areas of Prince William Sound. Not ready to kayak alone? Opt for a guided trip. The calm waters have a gorgeous backdrop of the Chugach Mountains’ serrated peaks. Keep an eye out for the creatures that walk the shores and swim in the sea: orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, puffins, seals, sea otters, eagles, goats, and bears.
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!
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.
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.