Girdwood enjoys its status as Alaska’s only true resort town. Just 30 minutes south of Anchorage, Girdwood is home to the luxurious Alyeska Resort, dozens of fun and entertaining festivals throughout the year and countless options for outdoor adventure in the gorgeous surroundings.
Originally named Glacier City, Girdwood began as a supply camp for gold miners at the turn of the century. After the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake dropped the coast along nearby Turnagain Arm 10 feet, the town relocated 2.5 miles up the valley to its present location.
Today Girdwood is a full-service community of 1,800 that attracts skiers in the winter, hikers in the summer and artists year-round. Alaskans and visitors alike are drawn to its fine restaurants, wide range of accommodations and local color.
Things to do
Girdwood’s quintessential experience is to ride the tram at Alyeska Resort to the top of Mount Alyeska. The 60-passenger tram provides a scenic ride to the 2,300-foot level, where a fine-dining restaurant and museum overlook dramatic views of Turnagain Arm and seven glaciers nestled in the surrounding peaks. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders then head downhill. In the summer, hikers enjoy an easy stroll through the alpine world or ride the tram back to the bottom.
Another, much different tram is also worth checking out. The trailhead for Winner Creek Gorge Trail sits right near the hotel and leads 5.5 miles through lush forest at Winner Creek Gorge and a fun little hand-operated tram across to the other side. The most impressive trek in the area is the Crow Pass Trail, a stunning alpine hike that features gold-mining relics, a glacier and alpine lake and usually Dall sheep on the slopes above. Other popular outdoor activities include mountain biking on the slopes of Mount Alyeska, rock climbing, rafting, paragliding and sled dog trips – even during the summer – on the surrounding glaciers.
Girdwood also hosts the annual Girdwood Forest Fair, a popular summer festival held the first weekend of July. This event features crafts and artwork by the abundance of artists who live in the area as well as food, games, homegrown music and dancing. If you visit in the spring the annual Spring Carnival and Slush Cup provides fun and entertainment for all as well.