Best Things To Do In Girdwood
1. Ride the Tram
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.
If you're looking for a workout, you can hike the North Face Trail from the base of the mountain, and then rest your tired legs by riding the tram back down the mountain.
The bonus? Anyone who hikes rides for free!
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 (some are even on the National Registry of Historical Places) in a gorgeous setting with amazing views.
And, you get to keep whatever gold you find!
There’s a free shuttle, though Glacier Valley Transit, which is great for anyone staying at Alyeska Hotel or other small B&Bs, vacation rentals near downtown Girdwood.
And, they host evening salmon bakes and live music on specific nights during the summer.
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 difficult ascent, but you can take the aerial tram down for free.
Crow Pass is a 21-mile traverse, but day hikers often enjoy the first 4 miles (8 roundtrip).
4. Explore Portage Valley
Love glaciers? You’ll love nearby 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.
5. Take a Day Trip to See Glaciers
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.
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!
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 rafting, nature walks, and camping.
There's even a public use cabin you can rent and stay the night!
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.
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!
12. Revel in Winter
This resort town loves the cold season—and there are a lot of things to do in Girdwood in winter.
Try an exciting backcountry snowmobile tour, and many more options!
Girdwood Day Tours & Attractions View All
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
See Alaska’s unique and authentic side by hiring a guide for a day and creating a custom, private adventure for yourself and up to 7 others. Tours depart from Anchorage or Girdwood. Excursions include Matanuska glacier hikes, ATV tours, gold panning, northern lights viewing, snowmobiling, and more.
Short on time and want to see another side of Anchorage and the gorgeous surrounding area? Take a small-group tour with Escaping Anchorage, whose owner, Brittney, creates personalized adventures featuring beautiful scenery and real insights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now Open! Relax and rejuvenate at the breathtaking 50,000 sq ft indoor-outdoor Nordic Spa nestled at the beautiful Alyeska Resort. Designed with significant consideration to the boreal forest, experience a center for wellness and relaxation that fosters connection with nature, ourselves, and others.
Girdwood Parks & Trails View All
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.
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.
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.
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 a gentle elevation gain that winds through America’s northernmost rainforest, crosses a wooden bridge over a thundering blue-water gorge. 2022: Hand tram currently closed, may replace with bridge. Local weighing in.)
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.