Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Alaska's Spectacular Drive along the Turnagain Arm

Roadside scenery from Turnagain Arm - looking out at the Cook Inlet and Chugatch Mountains to the north.
Roadside scenery from Turnagain Arm - looking out at the Cook Inlet and Chugatch Mountains to the north.

It takes little time after heading south from Anchorage to be exposed to some of the most stunning scenery Alaska has to offer.

The Seward Highway, connecting Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula, has been justly described as one of the great drives in the world, one of only 15 drives in America designated an “All American Road.”

The two-lane highway snakes along the Turnagain Arm for 125 miles with magnificent vistas of Cook Inlet (named after Captain Cook, who looked for the Northwest Passage here) and the snow-capped Chugach Mountains in the distance. I'd compare the quality of the scenery to that along Highway 1 in Big Sur; others have made the comparison to Amalfi Drive in southern Italy.

There are many stopping points along the way, and it’s hard to resist pulling over every few hundred yards to admire a scene and snap a few pictures. Along with the spectacular views, you might spot Dall sheep on the rocky slopes, bald eagles along the mud flats or beluga whales in the water. Some of my favorite points along the way are Potter Marsh (pictured), a popular spot for bird watching; Beluga Point, where you just might spot a whale (I didn’t); and Bird Point, with its observation platforms providing a sweeping view of the Cook Inlet and surrounding Chugach Mountains. Bird Creek is the spot to stop for salmon fishing.

The Potter Section House, just south of Potter Marsh, features a small railroad museum and the Chugach State Park headquarters. Across the street, you can find parking for the Potter Creek Trailhead, which provides opportunity for a nine-mile hike with a good chance of spotting wildlife.

For a more panoramic view of the surrounding area, take the turnoff to Girdwood, about 40 miles south of Anchorage, and head to the 5-star Alyeska Resort. Hop the ski tram up Mount Alyeska and enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding area (left). There are nature trails for hiking and restaurants with knockout views.

Just past the Girdwood turnoff, take time to visit the nonprofit Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is Alaska’s version of the S.D. Wild Animal Park, where native wildlife have a more open setting than they would in a zoo. Bears, caribou, moose, musk ox, bison and bald eagles can all be seen here.

A few hundred yards further south, take the turnoff to Portage Glacier. The Begich Boggs Visitor Center is a worthwhile stop and provides in-depth information on the area. The center overlooks beautiful Portage Lake. I spotted ice floating in the lake, but it is no longer possible to see Portage Glacier from there. The center once sat at the foot of the glacier, but due to climate change, getting to the glacier now necessitates a scenic half-mile walk or a boat cruise.

The Seward Highway is the link between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, site of Kenai Fjords National Park. The town of Seward is a worthwhile destination for glacier watching and cruises to view sea wildlife. The train ride from Anchorage to Seward follows essentially the same route as the highway, but without the worthwhile stops and detours.

Even though driving this route straight through to Girdwood takes only 45 minutes, and to Seward only about 2-3 hours, I recommend that you allow a full day for the trip. You will definitely want to linger and make a few stops and turnoffs along the way. Keep your headlights on and be wary of traffic coming in and out of the observation points. It’s a two-lane highway, and there have been numerous accidents. For some folks it’s just hard to keep your eyes on the road with so much gorgeous scenery surrounding you.

Take your time and allow the beauty of the area to soak in. You’ll undoubtedly find it one of the most rewarding drives of your life.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What San Diego restaurant staffs eat, dumpster diving for dinner

How food critic Naomi Wise started her life in San Diego, how food critic Eleanor Widmer ended hers
Next Article

Mostra Coffee is finally caffeinating 4S Ranch

Local micro roaster of the year replaces a boring chain coffeeshop
Roadside scenery from Turnagain Arm - looking out at the Cook Inlet and Chugatch Mountains to the north.
Roadside scenery from Turnagain Arm - looking out at the Cook Inlet and Chugatch Mountains to the north.

It takes little time after heading south from Anchorage to be exposed to some of the most stunning scenery Alaska has to offer.

The Seward Highway, connecting Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula, has been justly described as one of the great drives in the world, one of only 15 drives in America designated an “All American Road.”

The two-lane highway snakes along the Turnagain Arm for 125 miles with magnificent vistas of Cook Inlet (named after Captain Cook, who looked for the Northwest Passage here) and the snow-capped Chugach Mountains in the distance. I'd compare the quality of the scenery to that along Highway 1 in Big Sur; others have made the comparison to Amalfi Drive in southern Italy.

There are many stopping points along the way, and it’s hard to resist pulling over every few hundred yards to admire a scene and snap a few pictures. Along with the spectacular views, you might spot Dall sheep on the rocky slopes, bald eagles along the mud flats or beluga whales in the water. Some of my favorite points along the way are Potter Marsh (pictured), a popular spot for bird watching; Beluga Point, where you just might spot a whale (I didn’t); and Bird Point, with its observation platforms providing a sweeping view of the Cook Inlet and surrounding Chugach Mountains. Bird Creek is the spot to stop for salmon fishing.

The Potter Section House, just south of Potter Marsh, features a small railroad museum and the Chugach State Park headquarters. Across the street, you can find parking for the Potter Creek Trailhead, which provides opportunity for a nine-mile hike with a good chance of spotting wildlife.

For a more panoramic view of the surrounding area, take the turnoff to Girdwood, about 40 miles south of Anchorage, and head to the 5-star Alyeska Resort. Hop the ski tram up Mount Alyeska and enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding area (left). There are nature trails for hiking and restaurants with knockout views.

Just past the Girdwood turnoff, take time to visit the nonprofit Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is Alaska’s version of the S.D. Wild Animal Park, where native wildlife have a more open setting than they would in a zoo. Bears, caribou, moose, musk ox, bison and bald eagles can all be seen here.

A few hundred yards further south, take the turnoff to Portage Glacier. The Begich Boggs Visitor Center is a worthwhile stop and provides in-depth information on the area. The center overlooks beautiful Portage Lake. I spotted ice floating in the lake, but it is no longer possible to see Portage Glacier from there. The center once sat at the foot of the glacier, but due to climate change, getting to the glacier now necessitates a scenic half-mile walk or a boat cruise.

The Seward Highway is the link between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, site of Kenai Fjords National Park. The town of Seward is a worthwhile destination for glacier watching and cruises to view sea wildlife. The train ride from Anchorage to Seward follows essentially the same route as the highway, but without the worthwhile stops and detours.

Even though driving this route straight through to Girdwood takes only 45 minutes, and to Seward only about 2-3 hours, I recommend that you allow a full day for the trip. You will definitely want to linger and make a few stops and turnoffs along the way. Keep your headlights on and be wary of traffic coming in and out of the observation points. It’s a two-lane highway, and there have been numerous accidents. For some folks it’s just hard to keep your eyes on the road with so much gorgeous scenery surrounding you.

Take your time and allow the beauty of the area to soak in. You’ll undoubtedly find it one of the most rewarding drives of your life.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Music follows nature – the Moldau, Central Asia's steppes, the Alps, the Appian Way , cliffs of Cornwall

We find Siegfried resting under a linden tree
Next Article

Jazz the Night Away, Reopening Celebration at the Aquarium

Events July 11-July 15, 2020
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close