Drive just a few miles south of Anchorage, and you can taste the best water that Alaska has to offer. No fees, no gimmicks: just a 5-foot pipe protruding from a granite cliff face that gushes crystal clear water capable of causing instant brain freezes. Locals stop regularly to fill up bottles for hiking and skiing trips because the water tastes fantastic and they love the fact that there’s no chlorine, fluoride, or throwaway plastic bottles involved. Despite cars rushing by on the highway, you get a serene sense of connectedness with bygone generations, whom you can imagine getting pristine water from similar sources all over the state.
A Water Pipe with a Pedigree
This pipe was installed decades ago by the DOT, to relieve pressure from an underground spring and allow it to pass harmlessly under the highway. What started as a simple engineering exercise has become a boon for health-conscious and environmentally minded travelers and locals who flock here to fill up their bottles. In one 15 minute period its easy to observe four or five different cars pull up to get water, some carrying five-gallon jugs. The flow varies with the seasons and rainfall, but generally you can fill up a gallon jug in a matter of seconds.
Look for the Pullout
Granted, there’s nothing to mark the spot other than a large pullout on the inlet side of the highway, so keep your eyes peeled and definitely use the parking area. Traffic moves faster on this section of highway than in most other areas of the state, so it’s especially important to park off the road. Crossing the highway may require a short wait, but it’s worth the trouble. Bring several water bottles to stock up, and don’t be surprised if a couple locals are there loading up, too. If you have time, the beachside rocks are a great place for a picnic while watching the regular summer bore tide or scoping for belugas.