More of the Portage Glacier Area – July 2018

After a lovely and restful weekend at Crescent Creek campground, we got back onto the Sterling Highway. We connected to the Seward Highway and traveled north to Whittier / Portage Glacier Access Road, then headed to the Williwaw USFS campground.

Our campsite and view on the day we left.

What a beautiful campground! This campground has spectacular views of several glaciers and lots of fantastic trails to walk. There is even a fish viewing platform for viewing spawning sockeye, chum, and pink salmon.

The next day, we visited the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. We checked out the displays and watched the movie. At the end of the film, the large curtain opens up to show you a beautiful view of a mountain and glacier in all it’s glory, but all we saw was thick clouds and fog. I’m sure that was very spectacular on a nicer day.

The view from the visitor center the next morning, when visibility was much better. There is a short cruise out to the glacier that we would have been tempted to do if the day we arrived had been this nice.

We continued on to the famous Whittier Tunnel. Actually, it is the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. It is the second-longest highway tunnel and longest combined highway / railroad tunnel in North America at 13,200 feet long. It has an 8 lane staging area before entering the tunnel and uses a computerized traffic control system that regulates both rail and highway traffic. It is only a single lane wide and was originally built for the railroad and later adapted for dual rail/auto use.

First a train came through the tunnel
Then oncoming vehicle traffic

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When we got there, we were assigned what lane to be in, and then we had to wait for a train to come through and then traffic from the other side. And because motorhomes are assigned to the third lane, we of course had to wait for the cars to go through as well until we finally could proceed. It was very strange to drive through a single lane tunnel with a railroad track in the middle.

Whittier harbor
Whittier was very foggy

Whittier is located at the head of Passage Canal on Prince William Sound and is a port for cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. When we got to Whittier, everything was very fogged in. It is a very small town with a few shops and a harbor that accommodates large cruise ships. After driving through town to the end of the road (which does not take long), we parked for a little while to take advantage of the cell coverage and download emails and update a couple of facebook posts. Then we went back through the tunnel to our campground.

Once back at the campground, we hiked the nature trail for as long we thought the dog could go. The mosses and creek were beautiful in the overcast light, and we wished that we could have kept going farther than we did.

Glacier view from a pull-out near the Whittier Tunnel

The next morning was a sunny day at last. We walked with our dog along the blue ice trail for a little ways and then left to take a few more photos near the visitor center. Now it’s time to head toward Denali in earnest.

Day 69 (Day 35 in Alaska)

Miles: 73*
Driving time: 2:30
Roads: Sterling Hwy (AK-1), Seward Hwy (AK-1), Portage Glacier Road
Road conditions: Good
Overnight: Williwaw NF Campground, Whittier, AK
Weather: Cloudy with occasional light rain (52/59)
Total miles in Alaska: 1,273*
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 3,833*
Total miles: 5,401*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

 

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