Road Trip to Anchorage: South of the City 

A road trip to Anchorage via the Seward Highway is filled with opportunities to explore glaciers and mountains, enjoy Turnagain Arm trails, watch for wildlife, and learn about the history of gold mining in the region. Here are a few favorite roadside activities and attractions.

Portage Valley: Stretch your legs on the Williwaw Nature Trail. Start at the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform then travel parallel to the Portage Highway before connecting to the Trail of Blue Ice and eventually reaching the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. Learn more about the natural history of the surrounding landscape, and — if you’re feeling adventurous — lace up your boots for a hike back to Byron Glacier. 

Portage Glacier CruisesGet an up-close view of Portage Glacier from the deck of the mv Ptarmigan, which offers an hour-long glacier cruise on Portage Lake — featuring multiple daily departures, a heated cabin, viewing deck, onboard narration, and updated public health procedures.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: Get up close and personal with some of Alaska’s most recognizable wildlife — including bears, bison, moose, and more — as they roam the center’s 200 acres of habitat near the eastern tip of Turnagain Arm. The sanctuary’s popular bear-viewing boardwalk gives visitors a chance to watch the bruins from above. 

Alyeska Aerial TramTake a ride to 2,300 feet above sea level on the Alyeska Tramway, which provides broad views of Girdwood's Glacier Valley and quick access to mountaintop dining, hiking, and sightseeing.

Crow Creek Mine: Home to some of the older buildings in Anchorage and the most historically prolific mining operations in Southcentral Alaska, Crow Creek Mine is a picturesque place to explore the area’s gold rush history (and maybe try your luck with a pan). 

Bird Creek: Silver salmon start to return to Bird Creek in mid-July, and the roadside parking lot offers easy access off the Seward Highway. Those with a valid fishing license can cast a line after lunch and be back in Anchorage in time to heat up the grill and feast on fresh fish for dinner. 

Indian Valley Mine National Historic Site: Stop for a picnic with a panoramic view and a visit to the site’s two historic buildings, which provide a peek at life on an early Anchorage-area mining claim. 

Beluga Point: This scenic Seward Highway pullout is also one of the earliest archeological sites of the Upper Cook Inlet region, visited by Alaska Native people for thousands of years. Today, visitors can watch for beluga whales in Turnagain Arm or Dall sheep scaling the cliffs across the highway. The whales after which the site is named are most frequently spotted from mid-July through August, when they come to feed on the salmon running in through the inlet. 

Potter Marsh: Explore the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge via the 1,550-foot boardwalk winding over reeds and water. Visitors find abundant wildlife and panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and the distant peaks of the Kenai Peninsula.