Thursday Trek ~ Seward Highway
Alaska On Your Own is a promised post series that is long overdue. Here we go Kheira! A trip to Alaska usually involves flying, then hopping on a cruise ship to tour the waterways along the Inside Passage. From here, side trips include glaciers, waterways, places of historical value, and maybe even an interior journey by bus or train. Not that there’s anything wrong with this itinerary, but the vastness of Alaska can only be imagined while staring across the expanses from the deck of a ship. To go beyond the imagination, let’s get off the ship and explore on our own. If I were to travel to Alaska for an extended vacation: this is what I would do. We’ll start south on the Seward Highway.
We’ll fly in to Anchorage. Flying into this city is doable from most major airports and many airlines. From here rent a car if staying in hotels or an RV for camping. There are many things to do in Anchorage itself, so allow a day or two on either end of your flights to see it. I’ll cover Anchorage in a later post; once I’ve spent some time there for the Iditarod in March – maybe. The lack of snow may move the start again this year.
Leave Anchorage heading south on the Seward highway. The Seward Highway will take us to, of all places, Seward. We’ll leave the city bustle within fifteen minutes, and forget we were even there within thirty minutes. It can be a quick three-hour run south, but if you have some time, spend at least a long weekend traversing this area along the Seward Highway and see why it holds three designations: All-American Road, National Scenic Byway, and Alaska Scenic Byway.
First stop at Potters Marsh, part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, to view multitudes of migratory birds, bald eagles, and maybe even a moose. A little further on and we’ll come to Chugach State Park for camping, boating, bicycling and hiking. Continue to Bird Point; a great place to spot the Beluga Whale as they love to hang out in Turnagain Arm. It is amazing to see their bold white color against the dark of the waters. A picnic opportunity is coming up at mile 112 McHugh Creek or mile 110 at Beluga Point. Telescopes are available at Beluga Point to scan Turnigan Arm and surrounding area.
Further on is Mount Alyeska. We can take the tram ride up the mountain for some incredible views and if I’m not mistaken, we can order lunch at the restaurant. I will admit to staring at the floor of the tram on the ride up when I was here in 2000. Not a big fan of heights, but I was ok once at the top! Here is an opportunity for an overnight stay, depending on timing – and budget! If continuing, we can make time to turn off to Portage Valley and grab the cruise to the glacier, or just take a hike.
Photo opportunities abound along the Seward Highway. Mountains, glaciers, lakes, and the wildlife that inhabits the area provide many hot spots that photographers will love. Exit Glacier is in Kenai Fjords National Park off the Seward Highway. Get to the park by road and then take the walking trails that get right up close to the glacier itself.
At mile 37 is the “Y”, which branches off onto the Sterling Highway. We’ll take that another day. For now, continue into Seward itself, a booming town of almost 3000 people at the end of the highway. Here we will find an incredible offering of things to do, eat, and then when we’re pooped, there are a multitude of places to stay! At mile-marker 0 is Resurrection Bay: a beautiful spot to view an abundance of water life like orcas, seals, otters, and sea lions.
Now get some rest, we have the Sterling Highway to travel next!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I’ve added a few links on the footer to some useful travel guides. I like Lonely Planet the best…IMHO