Explorer Glacier Waterfall

This glittering waterfall descends 300 to 400 feet in several strands down a rugged mountain face from Explorer Glacier a few miles up the Portage Glacier Highway from the head of Turnagain Arm. It’s only one of several eye-filling waterfalls draining the valley’s spectacular hanging glaciers, easy to view from the many pullouts and trails along the five-mile road.

Best Viewing Spots

Explorer Glacier Pullout

First try the pullout at about Mile 2.5 of the Portage Glacier Highway, overlooking Explorer Pond with the waterfall and its glacier yawning across the valley. On a clear day, the setting is spectacular, with potential to spy bald eagles and waterfowl, beavers in the water, moose on the fringes. The multi-use Trail of Blue Ice—offering biking and hiking access all the way to Portage Lake—passes right there and offers a flat, welcoming route for families to explore.

Other Waterfall Action Nearby

Just about every gulch and ravine on both sides of the valley has been carved by waterfalls, either meltwater from ice and snow, or runoff from the area’s enormous rainfall. For a bit of an adventure, take the Trail of Blue Ice from the mountain-side of Williwaw Campground at Mile 4.2. As the maintained trail approaches the rock wall, take well-trod social trail mountain left and follow it through through thick alders. It will emerge where Williwaw Creek emerges from a steep gorge.

Getting There

Explorer Glacier Viewing Area
Portage Glacier Highway
Girdwood, AK 99587

From Anchorage, drive south on the Seward Highway to the junction with Portage Glacier Highway about Mile 48 at the head of Turnagain Arm. The road extends east about five miles to the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center on Portage Lake, with access to the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier a mile beyond. Waterfalls abound.

Driving Directions