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Anchorage, Matsu & Cook Inlet
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Anchorage, Matsu & Cook Inlet



Chugach State Park

Seward Highway (AK9)--Portage to Anchorage

Girdwood & Alyeska

Portage Glacier Recreation Area (Chugach National Forest)

Knik Arm

Glenn Highway (AK1)--Anchorage to Parks Highway Junction





Hatcher Pass

Independence Mine State Historic Park

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Seward Highway (AK 9)—Portage to Anchorage

Road Conditions and Attractions—45 miles. Good, paved route, often slowed by traffic, some dangerous curves and drivers, some narrow lanes. Potter Marsh, Turnagain Arm bore tides, beluga whale sighting, Dall sheep viewing, Chugach State Park trailheads, Girdwood, Alyeska Ski Resort, Portage Glacier.

The Seward Highway hugs the steep north shore of Turnagain Arm between Anchorage and Portage, then heads south onto the Kenai Peninsula. On summer weekends, this two-lane road can be bumper to bumper with Anchorage-area residents heading to favorite Kenai fishing spots and vacation cabins. The road has a well-earned reputation for accidents. If you are unlucky enough to be trapped in a long line behind a trundling RV, you’ll understand the frustration that drives people to recklessness. Fortunately, interesting diversions allow you to break the 70-mile Anchorage– Portage stretch into endurable segments.

Mileposts are listed in reverse since most travelers make their stops heading south from Anchorage.

Anchorage (Mile 127 to Mile 118)—See Anchorage, above.

Potter Marsh (Mile 117.4)—The boardwalks of Potter Marsh provide easy access to excellent bird habitat and a busy salmon stream. Located east of the road where the Seward Highway meets Turnagain Arm just south of Anchorage, it’s a popular stop for families and for anyone with some spare time. The marsh is part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses coastal wetlands and a large tidal-flats area southwest of the city. For information, visit www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/asp/relasite.htm.

Potter Section House State Historic Site (Mile 115.3)—Just south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway is the site of Potter, an original camptown for those who constructed the Alaska Railroad. The headquarters of Chugach State Park are here: open daily in summer, Monday–Friday in winter, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 345-5014. The park encompasses much of the coast between here and Girdwood. The 9.4-mile Turnagain Arm Trail, also known as the Old Johnson Trail, begins here. See Chugach State Park Trails, above.

McHugh Creek State Wayside (Mile 111.8)—A picnic area with access to the creek and the Turnagain Arm Trail.

Beluga Point (Mile 110.3)—This is a good spot to stop for a binocular scan of the waters of Cook Inlet. You may see a pod of white beluga whales or, perhaps, a bore tide. A display offers information on both.

Falls Creek Trailhead (Mile 105.7)—See Chugach State Park Trails, above.

Bird Ridge Trailhead (Mile 102.1)—See Chugach State Park Trails, above.

Bird Creek State Recreation Site (Mile 101.2)—Fishing, camping, and creek and trail access. Sites are $10 and fill up early on summer weekends.

Girdwood and Alyeska Junction (Mile 90)—Turn here for access to Girdwood, the ski basin, Alyeska Tram, Crow Creek Canyon, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail. See Girdwood, below, and Chugach State Park Trails, above.

Alaska Railroad–Whittier Shuttle (Mile 80)—If operations are the same when you arrive, this is where you put your vehicle on a flatcar for the short train ride to Whittier and the Prince William Sound ferries. Foot passengers are carried as well. Current information: www.dot.state.ak.us/creg/whittiertunnel/index.htm or contact the Alaska Railroad. Additional rail information HERE.

Big Game Alaska (Mile 79)—This small wild game park is basically a drive-through native-species zoo with a gift shop—though it may be of more interest than Portage Glacier to those short on time (see Portage Glacier, below). While not exactly an animal rescue center, the park is home to several injured or abandoned animals. You aren’t likely to get a better look at musk ox, caribou, Sitka black-tailed deer, elk, moose, bison, or bald eagles. Mile 79 Seward Highway, Portage Glacier, 783-2025, www.biggamealaska.com, open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in summer, dawn to dusk in winter, closed Tuesday and Wednesday from October through April. $5; kids, senior and military $3.

Portage Glacier Road (Mile 78.9)—Turn here for Portage Glacier (continue on the Seward Highway to Homer in the Kenai chapter, HERE).