Alaska is made up of millions of acres set for public use. And there is no shortage of ethereal and connective experiences out here. However, many locations can be very remote and require an extensive plan for transportation just to reach them. There are some road stretches in Alaska that can offer this amazing experience, without the logistical hassle. All from traveling down a well established highway. One of our favorites: The Seward Highway.
Riding the Highway
Some articles and magazines have dubbed this stretch of road one of the “Most Scenic Drives in the World”. And for good reason. The highway starts in Anchorage and careens you past many viewing and recreation opportunities from start to finish. In the first 50 miles you’ll be greeted by the majestic Chugach Mountains. And, adjacent to them, the Turnagain Arm. This is a coastal region with mud flats, sights of the Bore Tide, and chances to spot whales migrating!
This scenic byway doesn’t have any billboards or toll booths. Be prepared with snacks and ample gas to get you from place to place. Once you got that planned out you can enjoy the epic views. As you pass along the coast your views will transition to countless waterfalls, glaciers, and more chances to get outside and connect with nature.
From there it is off to take in hallmarks like Bear Creek, the Alaska Railroad line, and Exit Glacier. Once you’ve taken in all the sights and sounds you will find yourself in awe of the wonders of Resurrection Bay and the fishing lifestyle. And of course the city of Seward itself, draped in history and spectacular views.
Stop along the many pullouts, take the junctures, and make the most of this world renowned experience. These are some extra activities along the highway you can stop an enjoy by section.
Anchorage to Girdwood
Explore Potter Marsh
Visit the Alaska Railroad
Saunter along the McHugh Creek and Falls area
View the mudflats at the Turnagain Arm
Spot the Bore Tide
See whales migrating at Beluga Point
Explore trout streams and see the salmon run
Alyeska Aerial Tram sight seeing
Chugach National Park
Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Spot the Portage Glacier
Explore the Chugach State Park recreation areas
Stop by the town of Hope
Adventure around Tenderfoot Creek and Summit Lake
Take in the views from Moose Pass
Revel in the scenery of Kenai Lake
Bear Creek to Seward
Explore the Harding Icefield
Land on Exit Glacier
Traverse the Kenai Fjords National Park
Take a sea kayaking or boat tour
Revel in the scenery of Resurrection Bay
What is the Seward Highway?
The Seward Highway stretches from Anchorage to the coastal city of Seward. This 127-mile long paved road offers bounties of awe-inspiring scenery, history, recreation opportunities, and much more. The road is a scenic byway, so there are many more places to pull out, enjoy basic amenities, and have photo opportunities than any of the backroad adventures you might find yourself on in Alaska. This trip showcases everything from glaciers to mountains, and back through geologic wonders and coastal magic.
The History of the Highway
Many roads in Alaska that we know today started as access roads to territory resources. Seward was one of those locations. The roadway started in segments. The first one was completed in 1923 and by 1951 an array of segments had been finally completed and connected. Anchorage and Seward now had the quickest connection by road. This was in contrast to the previous options of boat, plane, or train systems.
The entire length was paved and folks were ready to set out for this newer and smoother ride. Although, when the 1964 Alaska earthquake hit, the highway and bridges had to be built higher so as to not sink into the Turnagain Arm coastline. Now, what once was a supply shipment line, is now an access way for all those looking to see the gems of Alaska.
Traveling the highway itself is pretty straight forward and there is plenty of signage along the way. It is always helpful to have a downloaded map for those areas you might find yourself without service. Map out where you plan to fuel up and pop that emergency kit into the back just in case.
This road provides access to many other attractions; Alyeska Highway, Portage Road, Hope Highway, Exit Glacier Road, Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the city of Whittier, and more. There is a junction with the Sterling Highway, an entrance to Soldotna, Homer, and the rest of the Kenai Peninsula. This junction is well marked.
This well maintained two-lane highway is your ticket to Alaska’s hallmark views and adventures. And, lots of chances to use one of the many pullouts to take it all in. See the grandeur of the Chugach and Kenai Mountains, spot wildlife in their natural habitat, take in the abundance of life within the sprawling landscapes. This road is lined with memories waiting to be made. Want some tips and tricks on how to vehicle camp while on the road in Alaska? Click here to read a helpful article on how to have a successful vehicle camping trip.
Ali Lukitsch is a ski instructor by winter and an outdoor guide by summer. Intertwined in the seasons Ali is also a website content manager, creative writer, and commissioned artist. She currently manages content media for various websites and is a writer for Exposure Alaska and Alaska Adventure Center. You can find her skiing the backcountry or taking extended backpacking trips in her spare time and indulging in her love of home cooked meals over a fire.