My favorite day in Alaska was spent driving along the Seward Highway. The Seward Highway stretches from Anchorage to Seward, covering 125 miles of coastline. This drive is without a question one of the most beautiful highways in the world. All around, there are beautiful views; mountains are in one direction with of the Turnagain Arm waterway in the other. The mountains span into the distance, seeming to go on forever. I was in complete awe the entire drive, trying to keep track of the winding highway as I took in the scenery. Luckily there are countless scenic overlooks for those pull over now moments. As I was in the driver’s seat, those pull offs happened more times than not.
The Seward Highway begins just South of Anchorage. Once you make it to the highway, it is a smooth ride from there on out. Turn your GPS off and enjoy the ride. The only way to deter from the highway is if you opt to take a detour to Girdwood or Portage.
My first stop was outside the Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk. We didn’t end up walking through the marsh, far too excited for the drive ahead. Yet, we took a moment to take in the views. At that moment, I thought the mountains seemed so close… I didn’t know what was in store for me.
The drive continued along past scenic overlooks and even a hiking area, McHugh Creek day use area. The tik tik tik of the rental car blinkers sounded every time there was a spot to pull over, another mountain to view.
The most epic, beautiful and popular stop along the Seward Highway is Beluga Point. I knew we had arrived as the coastline became dotted with plunging rock formations. This stop was my lengthiest yet. And the views were so incomparably beautiful that I made it back to this spot three times on my trip to Alaska.
Beluga Point captivated me. The rock formations were intense but brought me such peace. It is truly a serene spot. Alaska is one of those places that slows you down. And this view slowed me to dead halt. There was nothing on my mind as I made my way slowly through Beluga Point. My senses were heightened as I stood facing this incredibles view. I could feel like small rocks through my shoes and the light wind brushing against my face. I thought about this spot in Summertime, when the sun will shine and Belugas are visible swimming through the bay. Yet, in April, the sky was still a bit grey and the water rugged. While there are no whales swimming past Beluga Point in early Spring, the mountains are still beautifully dusted in the Winter’s snow.
The Seward Highway did not disappoint. It seemed that as we drove, the views subtly changed before our eyes. The views of Turnagain Arm became almost familiar, bringing comforting to the drive. Yet, each twist and turn of the highway brought a new perspective of the mountainscape. Each view was beautiful in its’ own way. When the sky was soft, I stopped. When the sun was shining bright, I stopped. When the mountains reflected on the water’s surface, I stopped. And when the water was full of breaking ice, I certainly stopped.
We past the sign for Girdwood, a resort town off the Seward Highway, yet continued on. There was no skiing or mountain resorts ahead of us on this trip.
When planning a trip to Alaska, I hopped that I would see wildlife. But I never thought I would simply stumble on wildlife. I pulled over for another view and was stunned to see a bald eagle. I never thought I would be filled with such intense excitement and pride over seeing a bird. Yet, something felt so fulfilling about seeing a bald eagle, America’s bird, in our last frontier.
For a guaranteed view of wildlife, there is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located right off the Seward Highway. I didn’t make it beyond the gate yet was ecstatic to see a buffalo at the entrance. There is a wide array of wildlife to be seen and there is even a shuttle service that takes you around to all the viewpoints.
At Portage we made a detour off the Seward Highway. This detour was in the hope of seeing Portage Glacier. I intended to walk across the frozen Portage Lake to get to the glacier. Yet, upon arrival, it was evident that the lake was no longer frozen. In the Winter, its’ possible to access the glacier from the frozen lake and in the Summer there is a boat ride across the lake. However, the thawing season makes visiting this glacier a bit tricky.
Many people only make the drive to Portage and turn around. But my road trip was not over yet. I intended to follow the Seward Highway all the way to its namesake, Seward. Just beyond Portage, the view of Turnagain Arm is no longer visible. It was just the road, the mountains and snow dusted trees. The roads in this portion of the drive were far wetter and snowier. The pull off spots were less frequent yet still prevalent. A lot of these pull over spots were dotted with snowmobilers and day hikers.
Along our entire drive, we only passed through one town, Moose Pass. Moose Pass has a population of 219 and there is no restrooms. In the Summer Season, the convenient shop rents a porta potty. Yet, if you’re traveling through this area in the low season, prepare to wait to use the restroom until Seward or use the great outdoors.
After an afternoon of driving along one of the most beautiful highways I have ever encountered, we made it to Seward. The harbor was dotted with boats and the mountains loomed in the background. The first step I took on the dock, I saw an otter. Here I was, in Alaska, where beautiful views and wildlife are all around.