Great Day-Trips on the Chugach

1. All aboard for Spencer Glacier!

Spencer Whistle Stop boarding

Hop on the train for a drive-free option into the Chugach National Forest.

Glacier Discovery Train: daily scheduled service begins July 3, 2020

The Alaska Railroad stops off at Spencer Glacier, the first of a series of “whistle stops” in the forest. Once off the train, visitors have a choice of recreation possibilities.

  • Take advantage of a guided tour along the fully accessible 2.6 mile trail to the glacier.
  • Enjoy a picnic at the historically themed whistle stop shelter.
  • Create your own multi-day adventure with family and friends at the site’s group campsite or enjoy it with outfitters and guides.

Spencer Glacier Overview

If you want a longer hike take a self-guided six-mile hike to the face of Spencer Glacier. For the really adventurous, a hike deep into Grandview Valley is a great way to experience some exceptional views while keeping an eye out for wildlife and beautiful wildflowers.

For those looking to overnight, options include a group campsite, dispersed camping outside the developed recreation area, and the Spencer Bench Cabin. (Reservations required for group site and cabin.) At Grandview there is a short interpretive trail where passengers can stretch their legs. Grandview is the end of the line for the Glacier Discovery Train and returns back to Portage and Anchorage after this stop. In the future, the Chugach Whistle Stops will be connected by 30 miles of trails with the potential for a multi-day excursion into the rugged Kenai Mountains. So climb aboard and experience the Alaskan backcountry where only the Alaska Railroad and the Chugach National Forest can take you.

Getting There

2. Russian River

Russian river bear fishing

Catch a World-Famous Salmon

As the state’s most popular roadside fishery, the Russian River draws visitors between June and September for world class sockeye (red) salmon, coho (silver) salmon and rainbow trout fishing.

  • Within driving distance of two main population centers
  • 110 road miles south of Anchorage and 40 miles east of Soldotna
  • Surrounded by the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Russian River fishermen

Visitors enjoy diverse recreational activities while visiting the Russian River Campground, Ferry Access Site, Russian River Falls, and the Russian Lakes Trail and cabin system. The Russian River is in the heart of bear country and visitors need to be “bear-aware” at all times in both the developed and undeveloped areas of this site.

Getting There

  • Russian River Campground Mile 54 – Sterling Highway.

3. Cordova and the Copper River Delta

Cordova sandpiper and chicks

A birder's paradise

The most inviting small town in Alaska just may be Cordova. Each year, during the first weekend in May, the community welcomes 12-14 million shorebirds to the Copper River Delta, the largest contiguous wetlands complex on North America’s Pacific Coast. They are closely followed by thousands of birders. If you want to find out more about the famous Cordova Shorebird Festival, or are considering going, contact the local Chamber of Commerce. And plan ahead.

Copper River and the Million Dollar Bridge

Getting there

  • At least two commercial airlines and several charter air companies provide flights to Cordova
  • Ferry from Whittier (60 miles southeast of Anchorage) to Cordova

4. Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound Kayakers

Kayaking is a wonderful way to be on the water and check out some of the 200 busy seabird colonies. Prince William Sound’s more than 3,500 miles of intricate coastline, tidewater glaciers and bountiful marine life, are an open invitation to kayakers to explore this remote area.

Prince William Sound from the Air

Plan a multiple day trip to access remote campsites or one of 14 cabins in the Sound. All campsites are primitive. Two campsites in Blackstone Bay and Culross Passage have been hardened to provide durable camping surfaces.

Getting There

5. Begich, Boggs Visitor Center

Begich, Boggs Visitor Center from the air

The BBVC is built on the remnant of a terminal moraine left by Portage Glacier. This world-class facility houses interactive exhibits, a 200-seat movie theatre and the Portage Valley Learning Center. The Learning Center serves as a base for school-age children taking part in Forest Service sponsored programs.


Begich, Boggs Visitor Center boardwalk

And come and see the brand new movie showing at the Center. "Retreat & Renewal," shot in glorious high definition, shows highlights of the area and give a thoughtful overview of the Forest's history and place.

Getting There

6. The Trail of Blue Ice in Portage Valley

Trail of Blue Ice on bikes

The wide trail allows for side-by-side strolling and has an accessible, smooth surface of gravel, pavement, or wood decking. The views are spectacular as you walk along the creek and through glacial valleys. You can hike or bike the 10 mile round-trip from Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform to Moose Flats, or customize your trip with a 3-mile loop that begins and ends at Portage Lake.


Getting There and things to see

  • 50 miles from Anchorage, take a left on the Portage Highway and look for the signs
  • Check in at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center for a map of the area
  • Williwaw Fish Viewing platform is a great place to watch salmon.