Best Things To Do In Girdwood

1. Enjoy the Iconic View

Enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the area: Ride the Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway; in just seven minutes, you’ll be transported high up to take in a stunning vista of mountains, hanging glaciers, and more.

View breathtaking panoramic views of mountains from Girdwood Trams

View breathtaking panoramic views of mountains from Girdwood Trams

Pan for gold at the historic Crow Creek Mine.

Pan for gold at the historic Crow Creek Mine. Photo by Ken Maltby.

2. Pan for Gold

Great for the whole family, the Crow Creek Mine is an old-school mine that lets you pan for gold and tour the historic buildings in a gorgeous setting with amazing views. You can also enjoy evening salmon bakes and live music on specific nights during the summer.

Hike through the northernmost rainforest on the Winner Creek Trail

Hike through the northernmost rainforest on the Winner Creek Trail

3. Hike Girdwood’s Great Trails

Girdwood offers many great hikes through a unique area—North America’s northernmost temperate costal rainforest. Take the Winner Creek Trail through lush forest and try the unique hand tram that crosses over Glacier Creek, 100 feet below! Or hike the North Face Trail—it’s a challenging ascent, but you can take the aerial tram down for free.

4. Explore Portage Valley

Love glaciers? You’ll love Portage Valley, which features a number of hanging glaciers. Start at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, where you can check out interactive exhibits and learn about all of the things to do here. Options include taking a one-hour boat trip out on Portage Lake to see Portage Glacier up close. See another glacier, Byron Glacier, on a short hike. Or walk the 5-mile Trail of Blue Ice for great views of mountains and hanging glaciers.

Enjoy a short hike to see Byron Glacier

Take a short hike to see Byron Glacier

People kayaking in Prince William Sound near a glacier

Explore Prince William Sound with double and single kayak rentals. Not ready to kayak alone? Opt for a guided trip.

5. Take a Day Trip to See Glaciers

Take the Glacier Discovery Train to Whittier; from there, you can hop on a glacier and wildlife cruise into Prince William Sound. You’ll find the world’s densest concentration of tidewater glaciers and see them calve dramatically into the ocean, while looking out for wildlife like bald eagles, otters, and Dall’s porpoises. Or paddle out on a kayak on the calm waters and for an even more personal experience.

6. Go Flightseeing and Glacier Dog Sledding

Flightseeing in Girdwood is especially spectacular. Go with Alpine Air and you’ll take a scenic helicopter ride out over glaciers or the sparkling waters of Prince William Sound. You can even opt to land on a glacier with a 360-degree view of mountains and glaciers. They also offer glacier dog sledding. Or, ride a wheeled cart through beautiful mountain trails on the Girdwood Summer Dog Sled Adventure.

Mush on snow, even in summer, by flying in a helicopter to a nearby glacier

Mush on snow, even in summer, by flying in a helicopter to a nearby glacier

Bike the 5-mile Trail of Blue Ice through the Portage Valley, passing glacial lakes and ending at Portage Lake.

Bike the 5-mile Trail of Blue Ice through the Portage Valley, passing glacial lakes and ending at Portage Lake.

7. Take a Scenic Bike Ride

Girdwood features excellent biking trails, whether you want to pedal on a well-developed trail or do some off-roading. You can bike through the lush forest and past gorges, or along trails with water and mountain views. Rent bikes from Powder Hound and go exploring!

Ride the Glacier Discovery train to Spencer Glacier, or continue onto scenic Grandview

Ride the Glacier Discovery train to Spencer Glacier, or continue onto scenic Grandview

8. Ride the Train to Spencer Glacier

Spencer Glacier is a dramatic river of blue ice in an area with towering mountains, waterfalls, braided rivers, and many more scenic areas that make for amazing exploration. See the glacier itself and take advantage of family-friendly activities in the area, like paddling, nature walks, and camping. You can only get here by train, and it’s a fun journey on the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop train from Girdwood.

Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see wildlife up close

Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see wildlife up close

9. See Wildlife Up Close

Seeing Alaska’s unique creatures in the wild is never guaranteed, but it is at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which showcases the state’s animals and helps protect them. See all kinds of the unique creatures that make their homes here, like coyotes, bald eagles, bison, and bears—and learn how the center is helping these species survive.

10. Enjoy Local Restaurants & Breweries

For a small town, Girdwood features some great bars and restaurants. Take a tram ride and dine 2,300 feet up at Seven Glaciers Restaurant, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant with a spectacular view at the Hotel Alyeska. Or sample some of the healthy options at Jack Sprat, a restaurant that also comes with a view. For awesome locally brewed craft beer, head to Girdwood Brewing.

The outside of Jack Sprat in Girdwood with Northern Lights in the sky

Girdwood is a small town with big flavor. Jack Sprat is no exception.

Girdwood things to do come for the festivals Blueberry Festival 03 n08oor

Taste a variety of delicious treats at the Blueberry Festival

11. Come for the Festivals

This resort town has no lack of great festivals—and all of them are worth traveling for. Come in August for the two-day Blueberry Festival, which showcases the area’s abundant berries. In July, the Girdwood Forest Fair celebrates Alaskan music, arts, and crafts. And toast the end of ski season at April’s Slush Cup, when you’ll find fun events like skiers in costume trying to cross an icy pond!

Go downhill or cross-country skiing at the acclaimed Alyeska Resort

Go downhill or cross-country skiing at the acclaimed Alyeska Resort

12. Revel in Winter

This resort town loves the cold season—and there are a lot of things to do in Girdwood in winter. Go downhill or cross-country skiing at the acclaimed Alyeska Resort, which boasts amazing snow and iconic views. Try an exciting backcountry snowmobile tour, and many more options!

Girdwood Day Tours & Attractions View All

Season: May 21 to Sep 11 $120+ 3 or 4.5 hrs

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.”

Season: Mid-April – Late September $340+ per driver 4 hours

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.

Season: May 29 to Sep 06 $200+

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  ...more

Season: May 01 to Aug 31 $549 2 hrs

Ratch­et up the adven­ture fac­tor and try your hand at dogsled­ding. Alpine Air Alas­ka flies to a dog camp run by the old­est estab­lished dog-sled tour busi­ness in Alas­ka. With a shut­tle option avail­able from Anchor­age, you’ll trav­el by heli­copter from Girdwood’s green forests up over a small sad­dle to land on a glac­i­er and be intro­duced to the dog team. Dri­ve” the dogs your­self, or sit in the sled and enjoy hang­ing glac­i­ers that sur­round you.  ...more

Season: Dec 01 to Apr 20 $255+ 5-6 hours (day trip) or 4-10 days (multi-day)

Explore Alaska’s back­coun­try astride a speedy and fun snow­ma­chine. Alas­ka Wild Guides will take you out for one thrilling day, or for sev­er­al days of exhil­a­rat­ing adven­ture. Find hid­den ice caves and remote glac­i­ers while nav­i­gat­ing along frozen rivers and through deep powder.

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $10+

Crow Creek Mine has been in oper­a­tion since 1896, and gold is still found in its claims today! Your guides will be mem­bers of the min­ing fam­i­ly that keeps Crow Creek oper­a­tional. This is their home, so tour groups are kept small, cre­at­ing a more inti­mate envi­ron­ment and allow­ing more time for ques­tions. Try your luck at pan­ning, and keep what you find. 

Season: May–September $340 4 - 4.5 hours

Faster than a kayak and more inti­mate than a day cruise, the Jet Ski is a great way to get up close and per­son­al with Alaska’s gor­geous scenery. Go with Whit­ti­er-based Glac­i­er Jet Ski Adven­tures and you’ll be tak­ing your machine out on the water to explore the stun­ning glac­i­ers and wildlife of Black­stone Bay. All equip­ment is pro­vid­ed and no expe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary on this unique 4.5‑hour journey.

Season: May 15 to Sep 17 $69 to $139

The train can be used as a mode of trans­porta­tion, how­ev­er it can also be a round-trip sight­see­ing excur­sion. This pri­ma­ry des­ti­na­tion is the town of Whit­ti­er, a major cruise ship and after­noon day cruise hub. Day Trips from Anchor­age: Whit­ti­er, Gird­wood, Spencer Glac­i­er, Grandview

Season: Year Round $15+ per hour | $35+ per day 1+ hrs

In the win­ter, Pow­der Hound is filled with all kinds of the lat­est ski equip­ment in tod­dler to adult sizes. You can ski in and out, and will find boots, ski, jack­ets, gog­gles, hel­mets and more. Skiers may howl when the snow leaves, but Pow­der Hound can deck you out with essen­tial items that will keep you com­fort­able and busy all sum­mer. They offer all types of bike rentals, from hybrid style tour­ing bikes to all moun­tain and down­hill bikes. You  ...more

Season: Dec 18 - Mid April $62+ Half or Full Day

Alyeska Resort is famous for its down­hill ski­ing and snow­board­ing for a rea­son — it’s tru­ly world-class, fea­tur­ing tons of snow, steep moun­tains, and views that stretch on for­ev­er. But there are a ton of oth­er win­ter activ­i­ties that make Alyeska an epi­cen­ter for win­ter adven­ture. Go cross-coun­try ski­ing or snow­shoe­ing on one of the area trails; or head off into the back­coun­try with a guide for some heli- or cat-ski­ing; try a snow­mo­bile excursion;  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $148 per person 3 hrs

Vis­it and snug­gle real Idi­tar­od sled dogs with their mush­er on this unique sum­mer­time tour. After tour­ing their ken­nel, you’ll har­ness up and explore trails along Gird­wood’s moun­tains which offer spec­tac­u­lar views while your guide offers fas­ci­nat­ing gold min­ing his­to­ry in the area.

Season: Jun 06 to Sep 06 $349+

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.

Season: May 1 - Sept 30 $135+ 1.5 – 3 hrs

There’s great Alaskan back­coun­try ATV rid­ing just a few miles south of Anchor­age. Engage in the sights, sounds, and smells of the north­ern­most tem­per­ate rain­for­est while expe­ri­enc­ing the thrill of the throt­tle through the wind­ing wood­ed trails of the Chugach Moun­tain Range. In the alpine mead­ows of this wilder­ness area, there are fre­quent sight­ings of both brown and black bears, moun­tain goats, and Dall sheep.

Season: May 25 to Sep 15 $699 per person

Expe­ri­ence the wilder­ness of the Chugach Nation­al For­est from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Com­bine a heli­copter ride, alpine hike, glacial lake tour, riv­er raft­ing and train ride all in 9 – 10 hours! It’s one big and bold Alas­ka tour de force with Chugach Adventures.

Season: Mid-November to mid-April $200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Rent a moun­tain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some cram­pons and go trekking on a glacier. 

Season: Year Round $299+ 30 - 90 min

There are few things more spec­tac­u­lar than lift­ing off in a heli­copter and soar­ing over Alaska’s glac­i­er-filled ter­rain or out across its shim­mer­ing waters. Suit­able for all ages. Get a taste for heli­copter flight­see­ing on a 30-minute trip into the 20-Mile riv­er val­ley and the heart of glac­i­er country.

Season: May 09 to Sep 21 $86 to $371

The Coastal Clas­sic train runs between Anchor­age and the town of Seward — a four-hour trip that’s the most beau­ti­ful along the entire Alas­ka Rail­road. You’ll see Tur­na­gain Arm as the train departs Anchor­age, then a panora­ma of moun­tains, glac­i­ers, lakes, and streams. You may even see wildlife like Dall sheep, Bel­u­ga whales, moose, bear, and more! Day Trip from Anchor­age: Seward, Gird­wood Mul­ti-Day Trip from Anchor­age: Overnight Seward, or  ...more

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Girdwood Parks & Trails View All

Our guide to the best bike trails around Gird­wood and Tur­na­gain Arm. You’ll find gor­geous moun­tain scenery, lakes, creeks, and a vari­ety wildlife — as well as plen­ty of bicy­cle trails that make it easy to absorb it all at your own pace. Need a bicy­cle? You can rent them at Pow­der Hound Ski and Bike Shop, locat­ed in the heart of Gird­wood at the base of Alyeska Resort.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 21 miles Elevation Gain: 3500 feet

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  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

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  ...more

Rent a moun­tain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some cram­pons and go trekking on a glacier. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

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. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 9 miles

Pri­mar­i­ly built to pro­vide pack-rafters and kayak­ers access to the head­wa­ters of Twen­tymile Riv­er, this 9‑mile-long trail has also proved a draw for hik­ers — and with good rea­son. Just 45 min­utes south of Anchor­age, it makes for a very scenic hike into some high, wild, glac­i­er-girt­ed country.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 4 miles

The Alyeska Mul­ti-Use Path­way is a paved, light­ed mul­ti-use trail that extends from the Seward Hwy to the Hotel Alyeska. The path is pop­u­lar with walk­ers and run­ners, and with a fresh batch of snow it becomes a great clas­sic ski trail.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 1 mile

Access to Abe’s Trail is via the Cal­i­for­na Creek/​Beaver Pond Trail North Access. This is a steep climb that affords nice views of the Cook Inlet and Gird­wood area. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

The trail­head can be found .5 miles up Crow Creek Road, just before the bridge over Cal­i­for­nia Creek. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Take this trail from the Gird-Bird Trail or from the Crow Creek entrance: You’ll enter at Cal­i­for­nia Creek Trail­head and take a left at the mark­ing onto Beaver Pond Trail. The trail then runs approx­i­mate­ly 2.5 miles along the base of Pen­guin Ridge. Although the trail can be a bit over­grown, crews have improved it immense­ly in recent years, and it’s now more acces­si­ble, all sea­son. Hike or bike. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 13 miles

With­out hes­i­ta­tion, the Bird to Gird is the most beau­ti­ful bike path in West­ern Alas­ka. This trail is 6 miles one way or 12 miles round trip; either way, the paved ride hugs Tur­na­gain Arm and con­nects three com­mu­ni­ties (Gird­wood, Bird and Indi­an). It’s per­fect for any lev­el bik­er — whether you just want to just cruise, go fast on a moun­tain bike, or expe­ri­ence the trail as a tourist (or even as a curi­ous local). It’s a shared trail, so you’ll  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Hik­ing up Mt. Alyeska is a chal­lenge, but the reward is great views of Tur­na­gain Arm, the sev­en hang­ing” glac­i­ers of Gird­wood Val­ley, and peaks stretch­ing deep into the Chugach Moun­tain range. Below you’ll find our rec­om­mend­ed routes to the top; all leave from the Alyeska Hotel (where you’ll find trail maps). While any sum­mer day is good for this hike, try to time your vis­it around one of the area’s events — you’ll have some­thing extra to…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a short hike to a pic­turesque, 15ft waterfall. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Take a hike along Cal­i­for­nia Creek and enjoy the qui­et, wood­ed path. You’ll find the Trail­head on Crow Creek Road near Cal­i­for­nia Creek. 

Difficulty: Moderate

This bike ride takes you along a pret­ty flat and mel­low sin­gle track, and through the heart of Gird­wood. Run­ning along Glac­i­er Creek, the trail con­nects the new and old town sites. This is a great ride for any­one new to moun­tain bik­ing, but it’s also an effi­cient way to get from one end of town to the other. 

Difficulty: Easy

This trail is a con­nec­tor between the Hotel Alyeska and Crys­tal Moun­tain Rd. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

The Idi­tar­od Nation­al His­toric Trail is Alaska’s sole Nation­al His­toric Trail. This net­work of 2,300-mile win­ter trails evolved to con­nect Alaskan Native vil­lages, estab­lished the dog-team mail and sup­ply route dur­ing Alaska’s Gold Rush, and now serves as a vital recre­ation and trav­el link.

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