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.
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 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.
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 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.
June - August
Immerse yourself in a multi-day Alaskan adventure that promises incredible views and jaw-dropping bear viewing in Katmai National Park, along with a warm camaraderie that only a small group expedition can create. Explore from your home base on the Island C, a research vessel that gets you close to the action while providing comfortable lodging and delicious meals.
Facing Beloit Glacier, 17 Mile Lagoon and the nearby Eagle´s Nest beaches are popular beaches for kayaking trips nearby the tidewater glaciers. This point is easy to find as it lies just on the glacier side of the very shallow terminal moraine of Beloit Glacier on Willard Island.
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.
The Crooked Creek Information Center and salmon viewing platform are located on the outskirts of Valdez at Mile 0.5 of the Richardson Highway. Pink and chum salmon return to this clear water stream each summer to spawn with peak numbers seen in mid-August. Occasionally, black or brown bear can be observed feasting on the returning fish.
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.
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.
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 2000 photograph documents the continuing advance of Harvard Glacier, which has completely obscured the view of Radcliff Glacier. Baltimore Glacier has continued to retreat and thin. Alder has become established on the hill slopes, but is difficult to see from the photo location. Harvard Glacier has advanced more than 1.25 kilometers (0.78 miles) since 1909. (USGS Photograph by Bruce F. Molnia).
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.
May - September
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.
The last two aerial photographs in this group of five document changes that occurred during the 69 years between June 1937 and July 28, 2006. Both photographs are taken towards the north and show the retreating, calving, tidewater terminus of Yale Glacier, located at the head of Yale Arm, College Fiord, Prince William Sound, Alaska. In 1937, Yale Glacier’s terminus was More...
This salmon viewing opportunity is located at Mile 4 of the Portage Highway. Look for a paved lot on south side of road and a Salmon Viewing sign. The viewing platform is handicap accessible and overlooks Williwaw Creek. Spawning sockeye, chum, and coho salmon arrive in late-July and remain throughout early fall with the best viewing in mid to late-August. In addition to salmon, you More...
Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise, out of Whittier, will take you to 26 different glaciers in just 5 hours. Enjoy cozy comforts on the high-speed catamaran and wander its outdoor decks as you come within 300 feet of massive tidewater glaciers. In addition to glaciers, the captain will be on the lookout for wildlife like otters, whales, harbor seals, and marine birds. The trip takes place in the afternoon, and a hot lunch is included in your tour.
Portage Valley may be one of the most popular visitor destinations in Alaska, but don't let that scare you away. The truth is that most people stop at the visitor’s center for a quick walkthrough, take a photo on the deck and then get back on the road, to Whittier or elsewhere. And while it’s true that the valley's blue ice and glacial scenery is outstanding from More...
Explore Prince William Sound in a unique sailing kayak for a super-safe, comfortable and hands-free journey that uses wind and pedal power over paddling. Half-day, all-day and multi-day adventures reveal glaciers, marine wildlife and a phenomenal perspective of a remote and wondrous natural world.
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.
A wonderful treasure for the paddlers wanting to be in the middle of Prince William Sound. This site is well protected between two halves of Olsen Island and has well established camping spots for many tents in the forest, and good trees for hanging food. The beach is steep and wide with oyster catchers patrolling the shore. Freshwater is not on the island, but can be found in the More...
Throughout the decades, Anadyr has carefully tailored its trips to offer an option for just about anyone. Never kayaked before? Try the Valdez Glacier Tour for a relaxing paddle on a lake with an easy hike to the glacier. You’ll explore icebergs and even kayak into a glacial cave. Got a six year old that can’t wait to get out there? At 3-4 hours, the Duck Flats tour offers a mix of wildlife (sea lions and otters are common) and Valdez history. And if you want the comfort of a bed along with remote rugged views, then a mothership tour or lodge-based experience with delicious meals is in order.
This leisurely, 0.75-mile trail begins just south of Whittier, a little seaside town located some 2 hours south of Anchorage. The trail doesn’t climb much, but it will take you high enough to get an unobstructed view of numerous waterfalls, including the long-dropping waters of Horsetail Falls as it sheets over the sheer rock face of Blackstone Ridge.
All-inclusive, multi-day cruises in Prince William Sound, Alaska, just an hour south of Anchorage. You'll feel right at home on this 68-foot yacht. Your cabin—whether you choose the one with twins, a queen, or king beds—comes with roomy closets, flat-screen TVs and en suite bathrooms. During the trip, you have access to any outdoor gear that you’d need—like sea kayaks, an inflatable boat, fishing poles, and even gold pans for trying your luck in the streams! Meals are thoughtfully prepared by onboard chefs, using a lot of local ingredients. Dine while looking at glaciers or orcas out in front of the boat, and sipping your coffee or, in the evening, a glass of wine or an Alaska microbrew.
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.
Bridal Veil Falls and the Valdez Goat Trail: This two-mile-long hike is a restored section of the Trans-Alaska Military Pack-train Trail that was the first glacier-free route from Valdez to the interior of Alaska. There's a fantastic overlook about a mile down the trail.
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.
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...
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.
It’s only fitting that an Alaska fishing village throws a great salmon festival. Every year in July, the town of Cordova takes a break from fishing to turn out for the Copper River Salmon Jam. This festival aims to celebrate salmon and promote the health and sustainability of local salmon runs.
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 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.
Crafton Island will amaze everyone! Overhanging cliffs and caves, green-blue waters, cobbled beaches, and fantastic views. You also get great exposure to Knight Island Passage and greater Prince William Sound. Few beaches are comparable to those on Crafton Island.