A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage Daily News
Girdwood residents Justin Hibbs, front, and Conrad Wharton maneuver across a bridge on the Alderbaun Trail, part of the downhill mountain bike venue at Alyeska Resort.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The center is a nonprofit organization that cares for orphaned and injured animals. Its inhabitants include moose, brown bears, black bears, porcupine, elk, bison, caribou, musk ox, an eagle, Rocky Mountain elk and Sitka blacktail deer. Visitors can drive or walk through the 200-acre park and safely get an up-close look at the animals.
Where: Mile 79 Seward Highway
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, mid-May to September
Cost: $7.50 adults, $5 seniors, military and children ages 4-12; $25 maximum per car
Alpine Air Inc.
Take a helicopter flight from Girdwood and enjoy a variety of Alaska adventures. The company offers flightseeing trips to the Chugach Mountains and to Prince William Sound, as well a glacier landing and a summer dog-sledding trip.
Where: Girdwood Airport Road
When: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
The resort, nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains near Turnagain Arm and featuring a luxury hotel, is perfect for outdoors lovers. Access to the mountain is made easier by the ski area's tram, which climbs Mount Alyeska between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. beginning May 8 and until 9:30 p.m. beginning June 1. The five-minute ride ends 2,300 feet above sea level with spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and several glaciers. The roundhouse at the top of the tram dates to 1959 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Alyeska hosts a variety of summer activities and celebrations, a summer snowboard and ski racing camp (June 10-13), the Alyeska 5-Kilometer Fun Run (July 2), the Midnight Sun Paragliding Fly-In (July 2-3), the Classic Alyeska Mountain Run (Aug. 6) and the Blueberry and Mountain Arts Festival (Aug. 6). Other activities at the resort include tandem paragliding, downhill mountain biking, guided glacier hikes, hiking Winner Creek Trail, helicopter-serviced glacier sled-dog tours and snowmobiling, and a number of dining options.
Where: 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
Begich, Boggs Visitor Center
The center overlooking Portage Lake is one of the most visited sites in the area. Exhibits focus on Portage Valley, Prince William Sound, Alaska animals and stories about Alaskans. A 20-minute film, "Voices From the Ice," is shown several times daily with a $1 admission charge. Interpretive walks are offered daily, including the Iceworm Safari on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. New this year is a learning center with seating for 100 people. The center will allow the staff to offer interpretive presentations and movies at the same time. There are hiking trails right from the center, and icebergs from Portage Glacier often beach within viewing distance. There is a bookstore.
Where: Portage Highway, off the Seward Highway
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day weekend to Oct. 1
Crow Creek Mine
The working mine, on the National Register of Historic Places, gives visitors the opportunity to strike it rich. The first gold strike here was made in 1898. Today, visitors make a trip to the panning shed to practice their skills and then head down to the creek with a shovel and bucket. The site also includes eight original buildings that have been restored. The area around the buildings is wheelchair-accessible. Overnight camping is available.
Where: 3 miles up Crow Creek Road, off the Alyeska Highway
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 15 to Oct. 1
Cost: $3 admission plus $5 to pan for gold; children younger than 12 get in free and pay $4 to pan; camping is $5 per night
Phone: 278-8060, 278-8061
Chugach Tandem Paragliding
Get a different look at Alaska -- from the sky with an experienced tandem paraglider. After a brief introduction, a pilot guides the paraglider around the skies of Girdwood to the valley floor. There is no age limit. The company also offers jetboat scenic and/or fishing trips on the Twentymile and Glacier rivers and ultralight trike instructional flights.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave.
When: June to Oct. 1
Cost: Starting at $150
Girdwood Center for Visual Arts
The artists' cooperative features handcrafted art by dozens of local artists. On display are paintings, pottery, weaving, jewelry, glass, mosaics and photography.
Where: 678 Hightower Road
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 14 through September
Cost: Free admission
Girdwood Forest Fair
The 30th annual fair provides arts and craft lovers an opportunity to browse through dozens of booths featuring items handcrafted by Alaskans. Music is provided throughout the weekend. There is a parade July 2.
Where: Mile 2.2 Alyeska Highway
When: July 1-3
Cost: Free admission
The paved trail follows Turnagain Arm for 17 miles near the Seward Highway, which was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1998. There are several pullouts and outstanding viewpoints, including the Bird Point rest area.
Where: Indian to Alyeska Resort
When: Open daily
Indian Valley Mine
The mine, with the gold claim started in 1910, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The prospector's cabin and the assay office were built before 1910. The museum features tools and other historical artifacts. Gold panning is available, with guaranteed gold discoveries.
Where: Mile 104 Seward Highway
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, May 15 to Sept. 15
Cost: $1; $3 to $50 to pan for gold
Portage Glacier Cruises
Portage Glacier is one of the easier glaciers to view in Southcentral Alaska. Gray Line offers one-hour cruises on Portage Lake to within about 300 yards of the glacier. Tours can be booked at the Anchorage office, 745 W. Fourth Ave.
Where: Portage Lake Road
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, May to September
Cost: $26 adults, $13 children ages 12 and younger
Chugach Outdoor Center
The center offers a pair of trips through the Sixmile Creek's canyons. The company also offers scenic Turnagain Pass float trips, kayaking on Kenai Lake, rafting near Denali National Park and on the Talkeetna River.
Where: Mile 7.5 Hope Highway
Phone: 277-RAFT, 1-866-277-RAFT
Class V Whitewater Inc.
The company features a variety of itineraries and offers trips on Sixmile Creek. The company also offers scenic float trips on the Portage River and fly-and-float trips on the Twentymile River.
The company offers several trips in Alaska, including one down Sixmile Creek. The company has guided oar with paddle assistance or paddle rafting. It also offers trips on the Matanuska, Talkeetna, Copper, Chickaloon, Kings and Tana rivers.
Where: Chickaloon and Hope