Chugach National Forest Points of Interest

One of America’s largest national forests, the Chugach National Forest offers many iconic points of interest, ranging from Portage Valley (home to Portage Glacier) and Spencer Glacier (which is only accessible by train) to fish-viewing platforms where you can watch spawning salmon return.

Points of Interest

Portage Val­ley south­east of Anchor­age at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers so many poten­tial adven­tures that you might have to tow a trail­er loaded with gear to sam­ple them all. What will you find here? Bik­ing, hik­ing, pic­nick­ing, fish­ing, pad­dling, wildlife view­ing, poten­tial ice­berg sight­ings — plus a nat­ur­al his­to­ry vis­i­tor cen­ter packed with inter­ac­tive dis­plays about the ecosys­tem of the val­ley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor  ...more

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.

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!

Crys­tal-clear Willi­waw Creek and its bank-side trail sys­tem in Portage Val­ley at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers excep­tion­al­ly good con­di­tions for watch­ing spawn­ing in action. Coho, sock­eye and chum salmon con­verge on the creek as it winds through the brushy flats begin­ning in mid-August, with some late-arriv­ing fish still present after first frost in the fall.

This is the most active tide­wa­ter glac­i­er in Prince William Sound and the best place to see glac­i­ers calv­ing. Sur­prise also seems to cre­ate its own weath­er; it can be clear around here even when it’s cloudy every­where else in the area.

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.

Gor­geous Portage Glac­i­er lies just 48 miles south of Anchor­age. Explore the glac­i­er, vis­it the muse­um, and go for a boat ride.

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