|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|Anchorage, Matsu & Cook Inlet|
Location/Size: 8,600 acres within Chugach National Forest, located in the Portage Valley at head of Turnagain Arm, 50 miles from Anchorage.
Main Activities: Glacier viewing, camping, nature hikes.
Gateway Towns/Getting There: Girdwood/vehicle access from Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula via Seward Highway (AK 1). Recreation-area access by short paved road to visitor center and boat dock; boat tours of lake and glacier; Byron Glacier Trail (1 mile), Willawaw Trail (H mile), Moraine Trail (G mile).
Facilities, Camping, Lodging: Begich, Boggs Visitor Center; Portage Glacier Lodge (privatefood and gifts); Willawaw Salmon Viewing Facility; Portage Glacier Tour (privateGray Line of Alaska, 277-5581, $21). Williwaw Campground and Black Bear Campground, both about 1H miles west of the visitor center.
Headquarters and Information: Glacier Ranger District, Chugach National Forest, P.O. Box 129, Monarch Mine Road, Girdwood, AK 99587; 783-3242, Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, Portage Lake, 783-2326.
Alaskas single most popular visitor attraction is Portage Glacier in Portage Valley. The sight is famous in part because of the glacier, lake, and beautiful settingbut also because there are established visitor facilities at the end of a nice, paved road just a short detour from the states main tourist route. Those of you who are visiting the glaciers of Kenai Fjords, Prince William Sound, or Glacier Bay might choose to skip Portage for more time elsewhere.
In 1893 the glacier deposited the rocks of what is now the terminal moraine at the foot of Portage Lake. Since then the ice has receded 3 miles up and around a bend in the valley. Boat tours of the berg-dotted lake and glacier are available 2 miles beyond the center on the lakes south shore. Though the glacier is not among the most spectacular, it has a decent vertical face and calves small bergs on occasion. Gray Line operates the $25, naturalist-led boat trip to the face, which is the only way for the non-hiker to get a good look, 277-5581.
The best features of Portage are the easy nature paths and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center at the foot of the lake. Ranger-guided nature hikes are pleasant, informative, and frequent in season. The valley also has 50 campsites at two good campgrounds, three smaller glaciers, and three short trails.