How Long to Spend
3 Days in Whittier, 3 Days in Anchorage & Whittier, 3 Days in Whittier & The Mat-Su Valley, 5 Day Cordova & Whitter - Prince William Sound, 4 Day Girdwood Basecamp + Prince William Sound, Alaska Highway to Prince William Sound, The Best of Prince William Sound via the Alaska Marine Highway
Nestled between glaciers and lush mountains, Whittier is the gateway to stunning Prince William Sound. While just a few hundred people call this seaside town home, this family-friendly area attracts thousands of visitors every year.
They come because it’s the best place to see amazing tidewater glaciers and marine wildlife that’s easily accessible from Anchorage (just 90 minutes by car). In fact, you’ll find the world’s largest concentration of tidewater glaciers here.
It’s easy to check them out, even if you have only one day. Take a day cruise in Prince William Sound to see glaciers, whales, sea otters bobbing in the water, and seals hauled out on ice chunks that have calved from the glacier. And you won’t be able to miss the incredibly active seabird rookeries with thousands of birds.
Even better, the waters of Prince William Sound here are protected and calm. Day cruises in other areas of Alaska are often closer to open water, making for a potentially rougher outing. And larger vessels here, like 26 Glacier Cruise, come with a no-seasickness guarantee.
If possible, though, don’t limit yourself to just one day here. Whittier can be a base camp for visitors looking to explore the grandeur of the Sound as well as the Chugach National Forest. You can go sea kayaking, ride a Jet Ski to a glacier, hike the robust local trail system, explore the local monuments or take the self-guided historical walking tour, or head down to the beach at the Head of the Bay.
There are also small yacht and sailboat companies that offer the opportunity to spend several days cruising the waters of Prince William Sound. You can charter the boat yourself or be in a small mixed group of up to 12. The experience is personal and intimate; you’ll linger in front of glaciers, launch kayaks directly from the boat, and go ashore for hikes.
By Car: Whittier is a convenient day trip from Anchorage; the drive is just under 90 minutes, and it’s one of the prettiest drives in Alaska. It follows the scenic Turnagain Arm and culminates by passing through the one-lane Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel—the largest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America.
There’s a schedule for traffic going through the tunnel (see our Whittier Tunnel page), so time your trip appropriately. Once you get to the other side, you’ll find a special corner of Alaska that is well worth any wait.
By Rail: You can also get here by riding the Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery Train. The round-trip schedule from Anchorage allows for enough time to take one of the popular day cruises before returning Anchorage.
By Cruise or Ferry: Whittier is also a stop on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, and Cross-Gulf Inside Passage cruises depart from and disembark here.