• Anchorage to Seward on Alaska's Highway 1

      155 miles, 5-7 hours

      Alaska has the tallest mountains, the longest coastline, and the biggest bears. It's the largest US state, and it is the darkest in winter and the lightest in summer. It has fewer paved roads per square mile than any other US state, but some of the roads are truly extraordinary. Alaska Highway 1 is one of those must-drive roads.It carries the distinction of being a National Forest Scenic Byway, an Alaska Scenic Byway, and an All-American Road. It offers a near-unparalleled opportunity to see wildlife, including bears, moose and bald eagles, right on the side of the road. A drive on Alaska's Highway 1 is a great way to experience a glimpse of America's 'last frontier.'

      Here are a few of the highlights along today's route:

      Anchorage, Alaska (Starting Point)
      Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, and 40% of all Alaskan residents live here. Today’s route will follow Alaska Highway 1 and Alaska Route 9.

      Find Hotels and Motels Near Anchorage

      Turnagain Arm ( Mile 9 )
      The Turnagain Arm, is an offshoot of Cook Inlet. Captain Cook called it the Turnagain River during his quest for the Northwest Passage in 1778, because he was forced to 'turn again' in the shallow waters. Captain Vancouver later renamed it - for accuracy's sake - Turnagain Arm. It looked like a placid lake the day I was there, but the Arm is famous for its unusual 'bore tide,' which can cause 10-foot waves and a 33-foot rise in water level as the incoming tide is funneled into the narrow arm of the inlet.

      Potter Marsh (Mile ~10)
      Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge is a sixteen-mile-long park along the coast, but a famous section was 'created' in 1917 when the Alaskan Railroad was built. The Potter Marsh is located in the land between the original Seward highway and the current highway. Thousands of people stop at the viewpoints to marvel at the array of birds and wildlife on the elevated boardwalks. This web site provides clips of audio podcasts about visiting this site.

      Chugach State Park (Mile 12)
      A little past the entrance to Chugach State Park, there's a view point with a huge old railroad snow plow. The Chugach is the 3rd largest state park in America, with over half a million acres. Spectacular mountains rise on the far side of Turnagain Arm and on the east side of the highway. On the day I drove this highway, the gold of changing leaves covered the lower slopes, and rugged snowcapped peaks soared above.

      Alyeksa Resort (Mile 32)
      There are several side trip opportunities on the Seward Highway, including the Portage Glacier, Potter Point State Game Refuge, and the Alyeska Resort. I recommend a ride on the Alyeska Tramway. There’s a shuttle bus from the hotel parking lot, and the views are stunning. The tram climbs up the face of Mount Aleyeska, reaching the lodge at 2,300 feet. Turnagain Arm stretches to the west, gorgeous in late-afternoon sunlight. Mountains and glaciers are visible in all other directions. You might find yourself thinking you've been transported to a scene in 'The Lord of the Rings.'

      Portage Glacier (Mile 40 )
      Just past the turnoff for the Portage Glacier road, the Alaska Railroad veers away from the highway to head due south along the Placer River as it makes its way across the Kenai Peninsula. The highway takes a slightly more circuitous route along Canyon Creek past Lower Summit and Summit lakes.

      Seward, (Mile 155)
      Seward is the port where cruise ships dock. A quick visit to the docks where these massive boats 'park' is quite entertaining. Seward is also the terminus for the Alaskan Railroad. Not surprisingly, it's easy to reach the cruise ship docks from the station. Seward also has a major shipping terminal for coal and is one of the most lucrative fishery ports in the United Sates. Millions of dollars of fish and shellfish are dispatched from Seward each year. It's also the gateway city to Kenai Fords National Park. Kayakers can cruise on the smooth waters of Resurrection Bay, and there are lots of hikes and places to explore.

      Find Hotels and Motels Near Seward

      Alaska Highway 1 is glorious on a Fall day
      Photo by Megan Edwards

      More photos and a field report from Megan's trip in Autumn, 2007.