Girdwood, just 45 minutes south of Anchorage, is a great home base to spend a few days. There are numerous activities, plenty of lodging choices ranging from vacation rentals and cozy B&Bs, to a luxury resort, and great dining options to enjoy at the end of a long day. These two-day itineraries will allow you to make the most of your time, whether you're looking for outdoor adventures, sightseeing opportunities, or family friendly activities.
With extensive hiking trails and countless activities, Girdwood is one of the best places in Alaska to get outdoors. Here’s our 2-day itinerary for Girdwood visitors looking to spend some time outside.
- Arrive Girdwood mid-morning and spend your day on the trails. The two most popular day hikes include the Winner Creek Trail and the Alyeska North Face Trail. Winner Creek is a gentle hike through a towering rainforest with a fun hand-tram ride over a thundering gorge at the end. The other is a steep ascent up the North Face of Mt. Alyeska; your reward is is an incredible view from the top. Though, be aware that there can still be a little snow near the top well into June. There’s also a café where you can grab a drink and a bite to eat. And you can even take the tram back down the mountain for free (and save the stress on your knees!). Click here for other Girdwood trails.
- If you’re not ready to brave the Alaskan trails on your own, join a guided hike with Ascending Path. Even if you’re comfortable hiking, doing it with them will be a richer experience, since you’ll learn about the flora and fauna as you go.
- In the evening, dine at one of the local establishments.
- Wake up and board The Alaska Railroad, where you’ll be transported to Spencer Glacier, an area accessible only by rail. Here you have a few options:
- Take a guided rafting trip among the icebergs in Spencer Lake, then enjoy a gentle float down the Placer River to meet the train.
- Cramp on some ice cleats and hike, or even climb on Spencer Glacier itself. Both of these activities are full-day excursions. You can expect to be back in Girdwood between 6 and 9 p.m., depending on which tour you choose.
Other Active Adventures
- Rent a bike from Powder Hound and take to one of many trails from Girdwood. They'll get you geared up with the right bike for each trail.
- Head south of Girdwood an hour and join NOVA River Runners on Six Mile Creek for some serious whitewater rafting (Class IV and V)! As the locals say, if you haven't rafted the three canyons, you haven't lived!
Interested in just sitting back and enjoying the beautiful Alaska scenery? This itinerary is for you:
- Enroute to Girdwood, drive 8 miles past the Girdwood turn-off and stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to view orphaned/rescued Alaskan wildlife up close; see bears, moose, bison, and more. It's a worthwhile detour.
- Arrive Girdwood mid-morning and embark on a helicopter tour with Alpine Air Alaska. Tours range from 30–90 minutes and there’s even an option to land on a glacier. No matter which one you choose, you’ll see gorgeous glaciers and incredible mountain scenery.
- In the early evening, take the tram up Mt. Alyeska for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and Turnagain Arm. At the top, if you’re in the mood to treat yourself, dine at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant and continue to enjoy the views from your table. Reservations strongly recommended.
- Retire to your lodging.
- Board the Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery train to Whittier, where you’ll board a day cruise into Prince William Sound. Watch for calving glaciers as well as whales, sea otters, seabirds, and more.
- After your cruise, re-board the train and head back to Girdwood. Dine at one of the local establishments in town, like Jack Sprat, where the motto is “Fat & Lean World Cuisine.” You’ll find everything from hearty steaks to vegan dishes on the menu—there’s truly something for everyone. They also have the only outdoor seating in Girdwood, complete with an outdoor beer garden.
- Arrive Portage at 9:00 a.m. to meet up with Chugach Adventures. Your adventure begins at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can view orphaned or recuperating Alaskan animals such as moose, bear, eagles, and musk oxen up close in a natural setting.
- Your guide will then bring you to the waterfront for a gentle float down Portage River. Watch for wildlife and bright blue glaciers tucked into the peaks of the mountain. You tour concludes in the early afternoon.
- After lunch, head over to Alpine Air Alaska for helicopter ride to a glacier, where you’ll go dogsledding on a glacier. Or, spend the afternoon panning for gold at Crow Creek Mine.
- Dinner and overnight in Girdwood.
- Drive, board a motorcoach, or take the train to Whittier for a wildlife & glacier cruise in Prince William Sound. The cruise is 5 hours long and includes lunch on board.
- Return to Girdwood for dinner and overnight.
Looking for someone to put together a few days in Girdwood for you? Chugach Adventures (who offers rafting, heli-hiking, and iceberg kayking) offers multi-day Girdwood Adventure packages. These packages include their exciting excursions plus overnight accommodations, dog sledding, train rides, day cruises and more.