Portage Glacier and Whittier Harbor, Alaska

There are several ways to get to the Portage area — by train, by tourist bus or shuttle, by boat, or by car. We took a rental car to spend the day on this quick day trip out of Anchorage. Travel just 60 miles down the Seward Highway for this adventure.

First stop was Bird Point with an easy on/off from the highway, a parking lot and even restrooms for travelers or those spending a few hours hiking and exploring. I was able to get a new lifer with my Merlin audio app, a yellow rumped warbler. Check out the beluga whale statue as you depart and head back to the highway.

Our second stop was the new Begich, Boggs Visitor Center in Girdwood. This was my first experience with a glacier. Lots of opportunities to walk and photograph. The exhibits and film have a $5 admission fee unless you have a National parks annual or senior pass.

Until 2000, Whittier was only accessible by train or boat. Now, cars can share the train tunnel but on a very specific schedule. Going into Whittier is on the bottom of the hour and leaving is at the top of the hour. Cars are $13 and trucks towing and rvs are more expensive. You will wait in line at a “staging area” until the light changes. This is the longest shared train/auto tunnel in the country at 2 1/2 miles.

Whittier is considered the gateway to Prince William Sound and in addition to many personal yachts and boats, you may also see a cruise ship in port.

This is a very small community which you could walk in a few minutes but features six eating establishments and numerous gift shops. We ate at Swiftwater Cafe, specializing in homemade clam chowder and fresh caught seafood. My halibut sandwich was about $20. They also have an extensive beer menu.

If you want to stay over, Whittier has an inn, also with a fine dining restaurant. We caught the 2:00 tunnel release back after a full day of exploring.

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