Portage Alaska moose laying in the grass with mountains in background
Photo Credit: ATIA, Brian Adams

A Local's Guide To The Portage Area

A Local's Guide to the Portage Area

As a born and raised Alaskan, Sarah spent her first 10 years in Palmer, where she learned to love the state and its wildlife residents. She can personally attest to trading mountains for corn fields is a tough ask for a wild Alaskan kid—but she and her brothers managed when the family translocated to Packer Nation (Wisconsin) right before third grade. Sarah decided then that her mission was to get back to Alaska and work with wildlife in any way that she possibly could—vet, biologist, zookeeper—whatever it would take. She was determined to make it work.

Armed with a degree in both wildlife and biology, and a minor in captive wildlife, Sarah's goal came to fruition when the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center took a chance on a fresh newbie in college during the summer of 2010. Sarah was able to achieve a full-time role in 2012 and never looked back, eventually landing in her current role as curator, overseeing the animal care department at the AWCC.

I currently reside in Portage, which is just down the highway from the local community of Girdwood, a wonderful ski town.

Here are my top recommendations for the Girdwood/Portage area:

Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, of course 

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is located at Mile 79 of the Seward Highway, 45 minutes south of Anchorage and just 10 minutes south of Girdwood. Come explore the back yard with some of your favorite Alaska critters from a safe distance!

Brown bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Brown bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Photo Credit: Travel Alaska, Brian Adams

Enjoy a cold one at the Girdwood Brewing Company

I am a fan of a cold beer on a hot day and I absolutely love that my local community has an awesome adult hangout that has locally crafted beer and can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors! If your visiting Girdwood and looking for some local flavor—hit these guys up!

Stay the night at Alyeska Resort

Alyeska Resort is not only wonderful for visiting and staycationing for a night away from home, but the hiking trails are top notch! I may not be the best, physically conditioned mountain climber there is…but the Moose Meadows are easygoing for me and the pups. Plus, if I want to challenge myself—tackling the North Face on Mount Alyeska is a great workout and is right there at the resort!

Alyeska Resort in Girdwood
Alyeska Resort

The Trail of Blue Ice and pit stopping at Explorer Pond

My dogs and I love to go for bike rides during the summer and this trail is located down Portage Valley Road. There's excellent campgrounds that connect to the trail and plenty of parking for day trip adventures, which makes for an easygoing trail that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Plus, if you like to paddle, there are plenty of areas to pull over and enjoy some time on the calm, cool waters.

Eats—let’s talk some grub!

The Saltwater Cafe in Whittier is a must! Seriously, the best shrimp and “fish and chips” around. Fresh shrimp and fish daily - these guys sure know how to make a gal happy, and you even get to drive through North America’s longest tunnel to get there! Plus, eating right on the dock and watching the boats is a fun time too.

Learn more about the Portage Area and Girdwood >>


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