Road Trip on All-American Road: Alaska’s Seward Highway
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When comes to a road trip in the US, Seward Highway (aka All-American Road) may not be the first place that comes to mind. The Grand Canyon Loop, Pacific Coast Highway, Utah Byway for sure, but I have discovered while traveling in Southeast Alaska, that Seward Highway, linking Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, and friendly mini-town, Seward, is an appealing road trip that all visitors are encouraged to undertake.
Seward Highway takes three hours to travel, and it is a fantastic drive along the coast with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side. On this road trip, I have stopped many times just to sightsee and take pictures. The vistas are world-class and it is a total visual feast, especially in the summer, with jagged peaks, alpine meadows, tidal water glaciers, inlets, and crystal lakes on every corner.
If you plan a road trip on Seward Highway and look for some fantastic sights to explore, be sure to check out one of my favorite places:
About 2/3 of Seward Highway travels along the beautiful coastline of Turnagain Arm, where you can view dall sheep, beluga whales, and an eagle or two. You will also find the mountains of Chugach State Park on your left. Other than wildlife watching and stunning mountain views, Turnagain Arm experiences the biggest bore tide in the world, with a wall of water up to 10-feet high. Visit here for the schedule of the bore tide and plan your trip accordingly.
Located on the foothills of the Chugach Mountains, the 20-acre zoological park includes native and exotic flora with a wide array of orphaned, injured, and endangered creatures such as polar bears, brown bears, tigers, moose, eagles and so forth. The zoo is open daily year around and offers guided behind-the-scenes tours during the summer.
Portage Glacier is Seward Highway’s most visited place and it is inside the Chugach National Forest. As a result of the glacier retreat, Portage Glacier is not visible at the visitor center, but you can take a boat tour that gets you close to the face of the glaciers. For those flexible on time, take a few hours to hike on Portage Pass trail, where you can have a wonderful view of Portage Lake and Portage Glacier from the top.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Just located outside the town of Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park features coastal mountain range with more than 36 glaciers. Harding Ice-field, one of the four largest ice fields in the US, dominates the park. From Seward, you can take six hours cruise to view the abundant wildlife and tidal water glaciers inside the park. An alternative way to explore the Harding Ice Field is to hike one of the short trails from the Exit Glacier Natural Center and the parking lot, where it offers a panoramic view of the Exit Glacier. For thrill seekers, you can do an 8.2-mile hike through the Harding Icefield Trail, where it leads you right next to the icefield.
Overall, Seward Highway is a wonderful road trip and I enjoyed experiencing all the natural wonders and viewing the mammoth. My road trip ended in Seward, where I enjoyed a relaxing walk at the gorgeous waterfront under the sunset.
For car rental, I highly recommend Alamo Car Rental at the Anchorage international airport. I had an instance when our car broke down on this road trip and Alamo sent us a new car without any fuss.
It is not recommend to travel this route at the nighttime during the winter, as there are no lights on this road, the ground is icy and the visibility is extremely low.
If you plan to travel to Alaska in the winter, check out the complete Alaska packing guide here.
I also purchase travel insurance from World Nomad before I go on any trips to cover unexpected accidents and sickness. I highly recommend it because it is affordable and the service is reliable.
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