Five Incredible Glacier Experiences in Anchorage, Alaska
Undoubtedly, the translucent turquoise of ancient ice is awe-inspiring and can even feel otherworldly. Fortunately, you don’t need to travel far for the ultimate glacier adventure. Of course, you could pursue glacier viewing with the tried-and-true cruise ship experience. However, there is an abundance of other options to consider. With 60 glaciers within 50 miles of Anchorage, the ways to explore these icy wonders are extensive and well within reach.
On a mountain
Head south to Alyeska Resort in the ski town of Girdwood. The drive along Turnagain Arm alone is stunning. Effortlessly glide over a boreal forest in an aerial tram for breathtaking views of the seven surrounding glaciers. The scenic journey aboard this alpine ascent in Girdwood rises 2,300 feet above sea level and pulls up to two mountaintop restaurants where you can take in views of the vast Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Choose between the economical Bore Tide Deli or dine in luxury at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant – either way, you’ll get million-dollar views.
On a sled
There is another quintessential Alaska adventure – dog sledding. Incidentally, the best way to experience dog sledding, especially during summer, is on a glacier. Hop on a helicopter in Anchorage or Girdwood. Be sure to keep your camera ready because the views are simply breathtaking as you fly over the wilderness. Greet a friendly sled dog team as you land on a massive snow and ice field in the Chugach Mountains. The exhilarating ride across the snow with happy huskies in their element is truly an unforgettable glacial experience.
On a trail
Not far from Girdwood is the port town of Whittier. The logistics to get there are quite interesting, involving a drive through North America’s longest highway tunnel. Just on the other side is Portage Pass Trail, a two-mile trail with a huge payoff. The ascent is unassuming, with great views of Prince William Sound behind you. Once you reach the crest, the view of Portage Glacier is mind-blowing. Continue along the path to reach the lake, where you can listen to the clinking of icebergs.
On the water
Whittier also offers several day cruises in Prince William Sound, where one of the tour company’s bills theirs as the 26-glacier cruise. Day cruises use vessels much smaller than the typical cruise ship, offering a much more intimate experience and views that you might otherwise miss. The protected waters provide smooth sailing and a strong likelihood to see otters, seals, puffins, Dall porpoise, and even orca, grey, or humpback whales. Even better, watch for calving glaciers while sipping on a margarita chilled with freshly sourced glacier ice.
With a cold one
Ask a brewer in Anchorage what makes the beer so good, and they all give the same answer: Alaska’s pure waters make the best starting ingredient. With a dozen breweries and counting, there is plenty of competition vying for the best beer in Anchorage. Beyond beer, Anchorage is also home to cideries, distilleries, and even a meadery, all using glacial water as their base ingredient. Many locations offer outdoor seating and great views of Alaska’s scenery.
Whether you choose one or all of these adventures, you’re sure to have an experience of a lifetime in Anchorage.
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