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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Walk in the wild places of Alaska with experienced and friendly guides who will reveal the wonders of our local rainforests, alpine inclines, glaciers, or the far backcountry. Trusted by locals, Hollywood producers, and even the White House, Ascending Path guides you expertly to select areas just minutes from Anchorage.
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.
See saltwater holding pens full of fish fry (young ones) waiting to be released into the ocean. In June and July, the water boils with swirling fish, eagles perch in almost every tree, and commercial purse-seiner fishermen capture surface fish by encircling them in long nets.
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.
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.
If you want a taste of dim spruce forest along a wild river bottom, try the first few miles of this mostly level route into the Resurrection River Valley. From the trailhead Mile 7 of Exit Glacier Road, the trail runs 4.5 miles to Martin Creek and is suitable for mountain biking or skiing after snowfall. It features two primitive campsites and occasional access or views of to the river.
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.
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.
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.
May through Mid- September
Fish with Hill on his immaculate 46-foot boat and find the hottest fishing spots around Seward. Hill's no-nonsense approach guides you to the action, loading you up with more than one species! Book a corporate charter or a private adventure with your buds – and combine it with a stay at Hill's lodge for the “all-in” package.
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.
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.
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!
A night at the Seven Glaciers restaurant, perched 2,300 feet above sea level on Mount Alyeska, is a dining journey that begins with a tram ride high above the treetops, followed by an elevator lift, then a stroll along a golden carpet, past a glimmering, glass-and-steel, wine-tower wall and into a dining room radiating the colors of alpenglow and glacial ice. Seven Glaciers is one of only three AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Alaska. You can show up in furs and heels or blue jeans and work boots and no one will blink an eye in this dress-code-free state.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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...
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.
June 2 to Sep 10 (Sun-Thur)
Kayak through ice, camp out overnight on a glacier and head home in a helicopter…what a vision of the ultimate in Alaskan glacier adventures! Ascending Path has created a trip that’s varied, exciting and exclusive to your group. Go ultimate!
Enjoy a magical morning or evening kayaking the calm waters of Spencer Lake, in the awe-inspiring presence of a jagged terminus glacier. Your time on the water is sandwiched between two train rides that offer up some of Alaska’s most scenic rail miles. It’s a full day of unforgettable experiences in our country’s second largest national forest – the Chugach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May - Septmeber
Set sail for 7 days and 6 nights with the crew of the M/V Sea Star for small ship adventure cruising in Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula or along the Inside Passage. The well-appointed yacht accommodates just 12 guests, allowing for a personalized experience where you are the explorer! Unplug from day-to-day life and soak up the wonders of Alaska’s amazing coastline. All meals prepared by an on-board chef and featuring fresh local ingredients.
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.
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...
Considered to be one of the best hikes in all of the Chugach Mountains, Crow Pass follows a portion of the original Iditarod Trail, including its highest point. End to end, it’s a 21-mile trail, which most people do in 2 days, but just the first 4 miles will lead you past some breathtaking scenery. Along the way you’ll find glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, mine ruins, and berries (in late August and September). Hiking is not recommended in winter due to avalanches, but the trail is usually relatively snow-free by late June (though the Crystal Lake basin, south of the pass, and some of the gullies north of the pass may still have snow well into the summer).