Gorgeous Glacier Viewing Expedition

8 Nights, 9 Days Exploring The Kenai’s Glorious Glaciers

Anchorage – Girdwood – Portage – Whittier – Seward – Homer – Halibut Cove

 

DAY ONE: Anchorage

Flickr – Kevan Dee

 

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and the launching point for your Kenai Peninsula Glacier Viewing Expedition.

 

Kick off your journey by booking one of many different Glacier Discovery adventures with the Alaska Railroad. Spend the first full day of your trip relaxing on board a historic rail car while soaking in breathtaking views of some of Alaska’s most glorious glaciers. Dine on delicious cuisine, meet the friendly staff and locals, and learn all about the exceptional places that you’ll be traveling through. Stops along the way include Whittier, Portage, Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, and Grandview. This is a full day adventure so plan on being gone for at least 12 hours if you opt for the full Glacier Discovery experience.

 

When you return to Anchorage, pick up a rental vehicle from Innoko Rentals, LLC or ABC Motorhome Rentals.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Learn about Alaska’s profound history, traditions and culture at the Anchorage Museum or the Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum or the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
  • Explore nature and wildlife at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Botanical Garden
  • Get above it all with a picturesque panoramic view over the city at Flattop Mountain
  • Enjoy a scenic walk with fresh air and incredible views at the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Kincaid Park or the Delaney Park Strip
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Overnight in Anchorage at any of these great hotels and motels listed HERE. If you’re looking for a resort lodging experience, head down to Girdwood a night early and stay at Alyeska Resort.

 

Yummy restaurants in Anchorage include Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria, Jen’s Restaurant, Table 6, Club Paris, Glacier Brewhouse, and Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant. If you choose to overnight in Girdwood, check out the local resort restaurants or try the Double Musky Inn, Jack Sprat, or The Bake Shop.

 

DAY TWO: Girdwood – Portage – Whittier (68 miles)

Flickr – Paxson Woelber

 

Depart Anchorage and head towards Girdwood.

 

Take the scenic Seward Highway heading south towards the Kenai Peninsula. The Seward Highway was voted America's Most Outstanding Scenic Byway by Scenic America, and trust us – it’s a phenomenal driving experience.

 

Hop in your rental car and follow the breathtakingly beautiful Turnagain Arm while enjoying many interpretative rest stops and viewpoints along the way. Depending on the season, it is not unusual to spot beluga whales or Dall sheep from your car window. You might even spot a bear munching on berries or roaming throughout the mountainside.

 

Stops Along The Way:

  • McHugh Creek (Mile 111); enjoy a hike or picnic in the Anchorage foothills of the Chugach State Park
  • Beluga Point (Mile 110.5); great opportunities for viewing beluga whales from mid-July through August
  • Bird Creek (Mile 101); fisherman’s paradise with observation platforms that photographers will love
  • Bird Point (Mile 96); a scenic stop where you can enjoy a long hike or bike ride with spectacular views

 

In Girdwood, take the tram at Alyeska Resort up to eat lunch (if they’re open) or simply soak in the majestic glacier views from the popular Seven Glaciers Restaurant. This location is roughly 47 miles from Anchorage. To access it, you’ll turn right onto the Alyeska Highway in Girdwood, then turn left onto Arlberg Avenue and follow the road up to the resort.

 

Continue on to the charming little town of Portage, population 2. Turn left onto Portage Glacier Road, approximately 20 miles away from Seven Glaciers Restaurant in Girdwood. Along this winding road you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views of hanging glaciers scattered throughout Portage Valley. After a full day yesterday exploring on the Alaska Railroad, use today as a leisurely day to experience some of Alaska’s most gorgeous glaciers by foot. Choose your desired activity level from the options below, all of which will give you great opportunities to get up close and personal with gorgeous glaciers.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go wildlife viewing and stroll the boardwalk through several ponds at the Moose Flats Wetland Trail
  • Learn about the historic Portage Valley at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center
  • Hike out around Portage Lake or through the valley to Byron Glacier
  • Explore the glaciated waters of Prince William Sound via kayak or water taxi; book a tour HERE
  • Visit the nearby Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Next, you’ll drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to access the charming coastal town of Whittier. Keep in mind that there is a small toll to pass through this historic tunnel. This is the longest combined road/rail tunnel in North America and a truly fascinating ‘Only in Alaska’ experience to have. Fun fact: Whittier has been named of the ‘weirdest towns in North America’ because nearly the entire year-round population lives under one roof. The summertime is much more lively, but the winter months are rather sleepy and desolate.

 

Spend two nights in Whittier. For a convenient overnight stay in town, check out the Inn at Whittier, which also has a delicious restaurant. Or you can choose to spend the night in a remote paradise inside Prince William Sound, such as Eshamy Bay Lodge, which is only accessible via boat or float plane. If you choose to stay remote, we recommend staying for a least two nights, to fully soak in the mesmerizing experience.

 

For an unforgettable dining experience, try the popular Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Café in Whittier.

 

DAY THREE: Whittier + Prince William Sound

Flickr – riteshm
 

Hop on an award-winning 26 Glacier Cruise by Phillips Cruises & Tours, LLC and experience the pristine beauty of Prince William Sound. On this trip you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a world-class attraction with seemingly unlimited amounts of glaciers. Explore the peaceful serenity of Esther Passage while viewing majestic alpine and tidewater glaciers in College and Harriman Fjord. You’ll be traveling in style on board the luxurious, comfortable M/V Klondike Express, Alaska’s fastest catamaran. In addition, you’ll be spoiled with views of orca whales, humpback whales, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, bald eagles, and a variety of other birds as you pass through the narrow, picturesque passage. This is truly an unforgettable excursion that will blow your mind. 

 

If you prefer to sleep in a little, consider a Glacier Quest Cruise or a Sunset Glacier Cruise where you’ll travel to Blackstone Bay, home to seven glaciers and plunging Yosemite-scale waterfalls.

 

 

DAY FOUR: Seward (89 miles)

Flickr – afletch4141

 

Depart Whittier on Portage Glacier Road, back through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Head south on the Seward Highway towards the beautiful town of Seward.

 

For the next 30 miles, you’ll wind through the mountainous Turnagain Pass (mile 68.3) passing by the gorgeous east fork of Sixmile Creek (mile 61.7) before crossing the gold-bearing Canyon Creek (mile 56.7). Stop along the way and enjoy the scenic pullouts that your heart desires.

 

Continue going straight past the Sterling Highway turn-off and continuing south. Directly after this point, turn right and enjoy a scenic stop at Tern Lake. Here you can enjoy a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities as you snap photos of the majestic mountains reflecting like a mirror into the waters below. Wildlife viewing includes beavers, river otters, muskrats, and salmon. In the distance you might even be able to spot moose and Dall sheep.

 

Make your way eight miles down the road where you’ll drive through the picturesque town of Moose Pass. Stop for lunch and a peaceful stroll on the shores of Trail Lake Lodge. Look for trumpeter swans enjoying an afternoon swim out on the lake or moose munching along the shoreline before continuing on to Seward.

 

Once you arrive in Seward, turn right on Herman Leirer Road off the Seward Highway and continue driving down it for just under nine miles. The two-lane road merges into Exit Glacier Road, which will lead you right to your next destination, the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Get out and stretch your legs with an easily-accessible hike to Exit Glacier, the only glacier inside Kenai Fjords National Park that is reachable via road. The well-traveled path leading up to the glacier is anywhere between 1.5 and 5 miles round trip (out and back) depending on how far you want to go. If you wish to tackle a lengthier hiking excursion, continue on up to the Harding Icefield Trail. Guided hiking excursions are available HERE. These trails are recommended to be traveled from May-September of each year, with the ‘off season’ fall, winter, and spring months being much more hazardous.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a walk at Seward Waterfront Park or head down the road to the Lowell Point State Recreation Area
  • Get elevated on a flightseeing, helicopter or glacier landing adventure; book a tour HERE
  • Go ziplining and enjoy traversing through a beautiful Pacific Temperate Rainforest; book a tour HERE
  • Go sea-kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding around Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords; book a tour HERE
  • Submerge yourself in the local culture with the remarkable experience of a dog sled tour; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Stay overnight in Seward for two nights; view a list of hotels and motels HERE and a list of resort properties and cabins HERE. If you prefer to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast, view options HERE. If you want to get away from it all, consider staying at the remote Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island, just a short 45 minute boat ride from Seward. For delicious dining recommendations, click HERE.

 

DAY FIVE: Seward + Kenai Fjords National Park

Flickr – Kimberly Vardeman

 

After a full day of driving and adventure yesterday, take today to get out on the water to experience some of The Kenai’s most gorgeous glaciers inside Kenai Fjords National Park. Feast your eyes on the larger than life beauty of Aialik Glaicer, Bear Glacier, Pedersen Glacier, and much more!

 

Hop on a Kenai Fjords Tour and experience Alaska’s #1 rated wildlife and glacier cruise. Enjoy a half day or full day excursion through the shores of Resurrection Bay taking you deep into the waters of Kenai Fjords National Park. Experience enchanting views of towering glaciers and abundant sealife onboard a luxury cruise. Wildlife viewing opportunities include orca wales, humpback whales, gray whales, Dall’s porpoises, stellar sea lions, puffins, eagles and so much more. For a complete list of day cruise options, click HERE.

 

In addition to the above adventure outfit, Seward has a lot of other excellent options to enjoy a scenic glacier viewing excursion in Kenai Fjords National Park. Other exceptional vendors include Major Marine Tours, Alaska Fjord Charters, and Seward Ocean Excursions. For a complete list of vendors, choose from this exceptional list HERE.

 

 

DAY SIX: Homer (168 miles)

Flickr – Dave Bezaire

 

Depart Seward and head towards Homer. You’ll need to backtrack on the Seward Highway for about 36 miles before turning left onto the Sterling Highway (at Tern Lake) where you’ll then follow that same road all the way down south to Homer.

 

Along the way you’ll drive through some of The Kenai’s most scenic small towns including Cooper Landing, Sterling, Soldotna, Kasilof, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik and Anchor Point. Throughout every winding town there are a tremendous amount of scenic pullouts along the way.

 

Optional Activities Along The Way:

  • Enjoy the piercing blue waters of Kenai Lake and Kenai River from Cooper Landing
  • Watch crowds of combat fisherman reeling in massive salmon at the Russian River Confluence
  • Check out a variety of fun local events, great fishing and scenic boardwalk sights at Soldotna Creek Park
  • Go beach combing and watch surfcasters in the distance at Kasilof Beach
  • Scenic pullouts at Falls Creek, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, Whiskey Gulch or the Anchor River

 

Arrive in Homer, Alaska! This cosmic oasis by the sea is known as the ‘halibut fishing capital of the world’ and has been voted as the Happiest Seaside Town in America by Coastal Magazine.

 

Drive all the way down to the 4.5 mile stretch of land jutting out into the renowned Kachemak Bay, known as the Homer Spit. Spend the afternoon beach combing, wildlife viewing on the harbor docks, shopping on the boardwalks and trying out the local cuisine.

 

Optional Activities In Homer:

  • Go bear viewing across the bay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience; book a tour HERE
  • Take a walk in the idyllic downtown district, also known as the arts capital of Alaska
  • Enjoy a guided wildlife viewing or birding tour while hearing the waves crash around you; book a tour HERE
  • Flightseeing with incredible aerial perspectives from Katmai to Lake Clark National Park; book a tour HERE
  • Reel in massive fish from halibut to salmon on a guided saltwater trip; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Stay overnight in Homer for one night, as it will serve as your launching point for the next journey that awaits. We recommend staying at Halcyon Heights B&B/Inn because it offers spectacular panoramic views overlooking Grewingk Glacier and the renowned Kachemak Bay.

 

For additional lodging options, click HERE for a great list of local resorts, lodges, and cabin properties. Click HERE for a great list of local hotels. Click HERE for a great list of local bed and breakfast options.

 

Delicious restaurants in Homer include AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse, Chart Room at Land’s End Resort, Captain Pattie’s, Fat Olives, Wasabi’s Bistro, Little Mermaid Café, Café Cups, Cosmic Kitchen and Two Sisters Bakery.

 

DAY SEVEN: Halibut Cove (12 nautical miles)

Facebook – Stillpoint Lodge

 

Depart Homer for Halibut Cove where you’ll be heading to the exceptionally beautiful nature escape at Alaska Stillpoint Lodge, a boutique resort experience.

 

A short boat ride, float plane flight, or helicopter trip will take you right across the bay where you’ll be greeted by a majestic wilderness setting. No matter which transportation method you choose, spectacular glacier views inside Kachemak Bay State Park will reward you with the most enchanting dose of eye-candy.

 

For specific travel booking options, click HERE. If that option is full or not quite your preferred style, another great lodging option across the bay is Alaska’s Ridgeway Wilderness Lodge.

 

Overnight for two nights, because the first day you’ll probably just want to sit back and soak in the awe-inspiring beauty that surrounds you. You’ll be fed three mouthwatering meals each day at Alaska Stillpoint Lodge, which are sure to satisfy everyone in your group. The fresh, local, and organic gourmet cuisine here is absolutely incredible.

 

DAY EIGHT: Grewingk Glacier + Kachemak Bay State Park

Flickr – Dave Bezaire

 

Today is all about getting inside Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska's first state park, and only wilderness park, containing roughly 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests and ocean.

 

From the lodge, boat to Grewingk Glacier Lake to enjoy a 3.2 mile hike through the lush cottonwoods and Sitka spruce trees, before winding back down to the spectacular beach. From there, visitors can kayak with a professionally trained guide amidst icebergs and shorebirds as you approach the face of this ancient glacier. Wildlife viewing opportunities are plentiful and include the chance to spot moose, black bear, mountain goats, and a verity of birds. The day trip even includes a gourmet picnic along with yummy snacks and quenching beverages.

 

If you’re more of a ‘do it on your own’ type of person and are up for trying someplace new for lunch or dinner, be sure to check out The Saltry located right inside Halibut Cove. You can paddle right over to the dock in a personal kayak, and you’re sure to enjoy checking out the fascinating displays of local art while you wait to be seated.

 

You’ll spend your final night on the Gorgeous Glacier Viewing Expedition across the bay in Halibut Cove, unless you choose to head back to Homer after a long day of exploring in the great outdoors.

 

DAY NINE: Return to Homer (12 nautical miles), then on to Anchorage (221 miles)

Flickr – Luke Jones

 

After staying overnight in Halibut Cove, you’ll need to hop back on the ferry/plane/helicopter over to Homer before hopping in your rental vehicle and continuing back northbound on the Sterling Highway to Anchorage. Make your way to the Seward Highway junction where you’ll turn left and continue all the way into the city of Anchorage.