This six-day tour of Alaska’s best coastal towns guides you through three different port communities overlooking the wildlife-rich waters of Prince William Sound, plus a side trip to the friendly, historic mining town of Hope.
Day 1 Anchorage
Start your trip in Anchorage; its combination of big-city luxuries and plentiful sightseeing and wildlife-viewing opportunities makes it the perfect home base for any vacation in Southcentral Alaska. Book a charter flight from Anchorage to go bear-viewing in world-renowned Katmai National Park, or go flightseeing around 20,310’ Denali, North America’s tallest peak. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 2 Whittier
Start the day off bright and early with a quick breakfast, then pick up a rental car and drive 50 miles south on the scenic Seward Highway. Your first destination is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a conversation facility that houses brown bears, black bears, elk, wolverines, bald eagles and other animals in a natural setting. From there, it’s another 12 miles to the port town of Whittier, which is accessible only via the longest combined rail and roadway tunnel in North America.
Nestled against the mountains of Prince William Sound, Whittier was first built as a secret military installation. Now, it’s a small, quirky town where almost the entire town lives in one large building. Take a glacier and wildlife cruise or, if you’re feeling adventurous, rent kayaks or take a water taxi to spend the night in a public use cabin. Overnight in Whittier.
Day 3 Valdez
Board an Alaska Marine Highway ferry for the six-hour trip through Prince William Sound to Valdez. This friendly little town is famous for its abundant outdoor recreation, including sportfishing, kayaking, day hiking and day cruises to spectacular tidewater glaciers. It’s also the southern terminus for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. After taking the tour of your choice, spend the night in one of Valdez’s cabins, campgrounds, hotels or bed and breakfasts.
Day 4 Valdez to Cordova
Board an Alaska Marine Highway ferry again, this time bound for Cordova. The trip takes about 14 hours, so keep your binoculars and camera handy and make a full-day sightseeing cruise of it. Odds are very good that you’ll see humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, sea otters, seabirds and other wildlife from the deck.
Day 5 Cordova
Accessible only by boat or plane, Cordova is one of the best places in the world for birding when migratory activity around the Copper River Delta peaks, usually in early May. If it isn’t birding season, be sure to check out Childs Glacier, the Million Dollar Bridge and the Cordova Historical Museum.
Day 6 Hope
Rise early for the seven-hour ferry trip from Cordova to Whittier. Once there, make the 50-mile drive to Hope. Once dedicated to gold mining, this friendly little town is now a haven for live music, camping and recreation, with a small museum that celebrates its gold rush history. This is a great place for mountain biking or day hiking, and you can also arrange thrilling whitewater rafting trips to the roiling class IV and class V waters of Six Mile Creek. Spend the night in a local B&B; tomorrow, you’ll make the 80-mile drive back to Anchorage and start your journey home.