Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

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Girdwood

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Scenic vistas and incredible wildlife

Like much of Alaska, Girdwood has scenic vistas, soaring mountains, incredible wildlife and plenty of sourdough history. But in Girdwood, getting up into those scenic vistas and soaring mountains is a little easier thanks to a year-round 60-passenger aerial tram that rises 2,300 feet above sea level.

While there’s plenty to do in Girdwood above and beyond skiing, the mountain’s accessibility has flavored the town, which draws outdoor recreationists by the droves year-round. Whether soaring over Turnagain Arm in a paraglider or screaming down the mountain on a snowboard, the mountain calls to many — visitors and Alaskans alike. And those same folks have a taste for hiking the many nearby trails in the Chugach State Park, surfing or kayaking on the legendary bore tide and enjoying creative pursuits of all kinds, from art and music to fine cuisine.

Add to that lovely coffee shops, a wide array of services and accommodations, and you have the makings of a great vacation getaway.

Be sure to check out the events calendar when you consider a visit, no matter what time of year. Girdwood is chock-full of interesting events year-round ranging from art shows to late-night dancing.

Girdwood is located close enough to Anchorage that you could make your visit a daytrip, but you would probably be sorry you did. There’s a lot going on in this funky community despite its decidedly small-town feel.

GIRDWOOD ATTRACTIONS

ALYESKA ADVENTURES PARAGLIDING
Soar with the eagles over Girdwood with skilled pilots in a tandem paraglide ride. Photographs of your trip can be purchased.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: Late May through September
Cost: $205 including tram ticket
Phone: 754-2400
Web: www.alyeskaadventures.com

ALASKA WILDLIFECONSERVATION CENTER
Home to more than 150 orphaned or injured animals, AWCC is a nonprofit organization where visitors can see the only herd of wood bison in the United States, along with brown and black bears, moose, musk oxen, caribou, bison, raptors and more.
Where: Mile 79, Seward Highway
When: May 15- Sept. 13, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; March 1-May 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; rest of the year, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $12.50 adults, $9 seniors, military and children ages 4-12; $35 maximum per car
Phone: 783-2025
Web: www.alaskawildlife.org

ALPINE AIR ALASKA INC.
Amazing helicopter flights from Girdwood bring Alaska’s beauty to you. One tou rfeatures landing — and walking — on a glacier. The other, also on a glacier, includes a lesson on driving a dog team and learning about life as an Alaska musher.
Where: Mt. Hood Road
When: Beginning at 8 a.m., six flights per day in the summer, five daily fall and winter
Cost: $225-$675
Phone: 783-2360
Web: www.alpineairalaska.com

ALYESKA RESORT
Near Turnagain Arm at the base of the Chugach Mountains, this luxury hotel and resort accommodates the outdoor lover in you. From late May to early October, the resort offers Mount Alyeska access via a 60-passenger aerial tram to 2,300 feet above sea level for breathtaking views of Turnagain Arm and surrounding glaciers.
Where: 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: Daily
Cost: Varies
Phone: 754-2111
Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

BEGICH, BOGGS VISITOR CENTER
Overlooking Portage Lake, this popular center is surrounded by the Chugach and Kenai mountains. Exhibits include wild weather, Alaska animals, glaciers and local area history.
Where: Portage Glacier Highway, off the Seward Highway
When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, May 26-Labor Day
Cost: Free; $5 adults for movie and exhibit; children 15 and younger free
Phone: 783-2326
Web: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/chugach/home/?cid=stelprdb5251094

CROW CREEK MINE
Dating back to the Gold Rush of 1896 and featured on NBC’s “America’s Toughest
Jobs,” this working mine is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can pan for gold, picnic or relax and learn about the mine’s history.
Where: Three miles up Crow Creek Road, off the Alyeska Highway
When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, May 15-Sept. 15
Cost: $10 sightseeing admission; $20 for gold panning, military, senior citizens and children 7 and under, $10
Phone: 229-3105
Web: www.crowcreekmine.com

GIRDWOOD CENTER FOR VISUAL ARTS
This nonprofit center gives back to the artistic community through your purchases and features a fine art and gifts co-op gallery with the works of more than 40Alaska artists.
Where: Olympic Mountain Loop (next to the Bake Shop)
When: Check website
Cost: Free; donations appreciated
Phone: 783-3209
Web: gcvaonline.org

INDIAN TO GIRDWOOD TRAIL
The paved 12-mile trail follows Turnagain Arm near the Seward Highway and winds its scenic way through three communities to the Alyeska Resort. The trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in winter.
Where: Mile 96.1 Seward Highway, Indian to Alyeska Resort; several parking spots are available at both ends
When: Daily, year-round
Cost: Free
Phone: 269-8400 (Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Anchorage)
Web: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/trails/indian2gird.htm

INDIAN VALLEY MINE
Learn traditional gold panning techniques here, where Peter R. Strong staked his claim to the mine on the Turnagain Arm in the early 1900s.
Where: 27301 Seward Highway, Mile 104
When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, May 15-Sept. 15
Cost: $1 general admission; $10 to $100 to pan for gold
Phone: 653-1120
Web: www.indianvalleymine.com

PORTAGE GLACIER TOURS
Portage Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to view in Southcentral Alaska, and Gray Line offers one-hour cruises on Portage Lake to within a few hundred yards of the glacier. The MV Ptarmigan weaves through iceberg-dotted waters on a narrated tour. Tours can be booked at the Anchorage office, 745 W. Fourth Ave.
Where: Portage Lake Road
When: 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. daily, May 17-Sept. 16
Cost: $34 adults, $17 children ages 12 and younger
Phone: 888-452-1737
Web: www.graylinealaska.com

SPENCER GLACIER WHISTLE-STOP TOUR
A partnership between the Alaska Railroad and Chugach National Forest provides access to the backcountry aboard the railroad. Passengers can hop off the train at the Spencer Whistle Stop for a narrated three-mile hike with a ranger.
Where: Portage to Spencer Glacier and back
When: Daily
Cost: Starting at $64
Phone: 907-265-2494, 800-544-0552
Web: alaskarailroad.com/Destinations/SpencerGlacier/tabid/137/Default.aspx

GIRDWOOD EVENTS CALENDAR

FIDDLEHEAD FOLK FESTIVAL
A family-friendly gathering which features acoustic artists, a beer garden and craft vendors.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: June 7-8
Cost: Check website or call
Phone: 754-2111
Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

GIRDWOOD FOREST FAIR
Meet Alaska artists and explore the handcrafted items and exotic foods on hand and see noted entertainers from all over the state. A T-shirt design contest is featured. Camping allowed with a permit and for a fee.
Where: Forest Fair Park, Mile 2.2 Alyeska Highway
When: July 5-6, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; July 7, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; parade July 6 10 a.m.
Cost: Free
Phone: No phone; visit website for email contacts
Web: www.girdwoodforestfair.com

BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL
Features blueberry picking, live music, chairlift rides, food and craft vendors. Fun for all ages.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: Aug. 10-11
Cost: Free
Phone: 754-2111
Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

FUNGUS FAIR
Mycologists give you the lowdown on local mushrooms through lectures and hikes, followed by a Fungus Formal dinner featuring mushroom dishes at the The Hotel Alyeska.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: Aug. 30-Sept. 1
Cost: Free; call for fundraiser dinner cost
Phone: 754-2111
Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

VERTICAL CHALLENGE CLIMB-A-THON
If you’re into endurance challenges, this is an all-time, must-do event. See how many trips you can walk, hike or run up Mount Alyeska’s nearly 2,500-foot North Face Trail, with a tram ride down in between. Race runs approximately 10 hours in duration.
Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood
When: Sept. 8
Cost: $25 advance registration, $30 day of the race
Phone: 754-2111
Web:www.alyeskaresort.com

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