Worthwhile side trips
Take time to explore along our route, and you'll find plenty of discoveries just off the road.
Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
Long, wide boardwalks stretch into the more than 500 acres ofthe refuge, which is the home or migratory stop of more than 130species of birds. Other resident critters include bears, coyotes,lynx, moose, and river otters. On the Seward Hwy. (State 1), 1/2 mile south of Rabbit Creek Rd.exit; (907) 267-2344.
Alyeska Aerial TramwayOffering spectacular views ofneighboring peaks and glaciers, this ski-area cable car accessesgreat hiking. The posh Seven Glaciers Restaurant serves mealsworthy of the scenery; there’s also a cafeteria. Tram operates 10:30-9:30 daily; $16 adults (free for diners).Alyeska Resort, Girdwood; (907) 754-2275.
Portage Glacier Recreation Area
The Begich-Boggs Visitor Center offers displays and anexcellent film on glaciers, including the one calving icebergs intothe lake fronting the building. 9-5 daily. Mile 5.2 on Whittier/Portage Glacier Access Rd.;(907) 783-2326.
Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site
See the entire face of the 2,500-foot-tall glacier from wideasphalt trails (stay on designated paths; touching or walking onthe glacier can be hazardous). Interpretive plaques answerquestions about this glacier and Alaskan natural history. Mile 28 on Richardson Hwy. (State 4).
The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline usually isn’t easy to see,but the overlook at Pump Station 12 has a fine view of it. Mile 65 on Richardson Hwy.
Denali State Park
Denali State Park offers magnificent views of Mt. McKinleyand other Alaska Range peaks ― including Denali and theMoose’s Tooth ― when it’s not cloudy. Viewpoints arewell-marked highway turnoffs; milepost 147.1 has an interpretivekiosk, spotting scopes, and a small visitor center. (907) 745-3975.
This charming town is filled with serious mountain climbersand delightful old frame buildings. Stop at the TalkeetnaHistorical Society Museum ($3; First St.; 907/733-2487), in an old schoolhouse, to seebush-pilot and McKinley-climbing exhibits and to obtain a travelplanner. Talkeetna Chamber ofCommerce, (907) 733-2330.
Three rivers converge near the town of Talkeetna to offer thestate’s best road-accessible salmon fishing May-Sep. Talkeetnafishing guides offer half-day (from $135), full-day (from $185),and longer trips for sockeye, silver, or king salmon. Pricesinclude use of tackle, gear, and boats. Talkeetna Chamber ofCommerce, (907) 733-2330.
In 1935 the Matanuska Valley Colony, a New Deal program,brought 203 families here to farm cooperatively; the programdissolved in 1939. Visit Colony House Museum (open Tue-Sat; $2; 316 E. Elmwood Ave.; 907/745-1935) in thehistoric district. The nearby Palmer Visitor Information Center (723 S. Valley Way; 907/745-2880) has an excellent gift shopfeaturing local artists.
Eklutna Historical Park
Built of hand-hewn logs roughly 150 years ago, the RussianOrthodox Church in this Athabascan native village is surrounded bya cemetery filled with colorfully painted spirit houses. From Glenn Hwy. (State 1), take Eklutna Lake Rd. west about 1mile to park; www.alaskaone.com/eklutnaor (907) 696-2828.