WHITTIER ROAD TRIP
From Anchorage, the Whittier Road Trip is a pleasant 58 mile drive to the Southeast along the Seward Highway, and the Portage Glacier Highway. You drive through the Chugach National Forest next to a body of water called Turnagain Arm. A turn down the Portage Glacier Highway has many viewing opportunities for bears, moose, eagles, cranes, and an assortment of other wildlife depending on the time of year. Moose Flats and Alder Pond are a couple of day-use areas where wildlife viewing and hiking trails are available. Hanging glaciers can be viewed, but not Portage Glacier. The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is the headquarters for the Portage Glacier area.
The Whittier Road Trip does have a feature worth mentioning if you’re in a hurry to get to Whittier for any tour excursions and activities. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, often called the Whittier Tunnel, is a 2-1/2 mile long tunnel through Maynard Mountain. It is a shared tunnel, so the train can use it, and cars and trucks can use it, but not at the same time. There is a toll, and set schedule for traffic flow in each direction since the tunnel is only one lane, one track wide. You can’t be in a hurry if this will impact your Whittier-based activity.
The town of Whittier, at the end of your Whittier Road Trip, was named for poet John Greenleaf Whittier, as was the nearby Whittier Glacier. It is a deep water harbor, and served as a supply port for the gold mining industry and later, the oil industry. Today, cruise ships dock in Whittier so the passengers can participate in a host of outdoor activities: sightseeing, photography, paddling, fishing, and others.
Whittier has only been linked by roadway from Anchorage since the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was opened in 2000. Before that, Whittier was on accessible by plane, rail, and boat.