Alaska-Scenic Drive From Anchorage to Seward-Beluga Point Lookout-Bird Ridge Trail-Exit Glacier

Near bird ridge trail

Get ready for almost non-stop breathtaking scenery as you head down the popular Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Seward. It’s literally unlike anything we have ever seen before (especially on the flat east coast). From intense hikes to endangered glaciers, you will get a taste of the true outdoor spirit of Alaska.

See & Do

  • Scenic Drive From Anchorage to Seward: The road from Anchorage to Seward is known as the Seward Highway, and is approximately 120 miles of intense mountain scenery unlike anything that can be seen in the lower 48 states. Almost from the second you leave the city of Anchorage you will be driving with the pristine Turnagain Arm to your right and vast mountain ranges to your left. There are plenty of places on the way to stop, take pictures, hike, picnic, and so on. Rating: 5/5
  • Beluga Point Lookout: One of the first areas you can stop outside of Anchorage, this point gives you a great view of Turnagain Arm. Although the signs say you’re not supposed to, you can easily cross the train tracks (watch out for the train!) and stand on one of the hills directly on top of the water. The crisp breeze, fresh air, and amazing views were all we needed to see to know that this was going to be the beginning of a great trip.  Rating: 4/5

Beluga Point Lookout Parking Lot

  • Bird Ridge Trail: “Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous” is what we read, and as “nature-deprived flatlanders” (as we were called on an online forum when we said we lived in the NYC area), we certainly had a different expectation of Moderate than Alaskans do. This hike goes up about 3400 feet in 2.5 miles, and offers a great panoramic view of the nearby mountains and Turnagain Arm. We were able to make it about 1.5 miles in before we hit snow and had to turn around, as we were not completely prepared for that. The views at that point were still well worth it. The difficulty was a bit more than we expected, but with the proper amount of water/snacks and slightly better weather, we probably could have made it up to the top. As we began the descent down, we passed a few extremely fit joggers out for a light morning run up the trail. Rating: 5/5

Bird Ridge Trail View from the top Bird Ridge Trail View

  • Exit Glacier: Exit Glacier is a “spillover” glacier from the Harding Ice Field, and is the only glacier accessible by car. It seems that usually it would be open in late-May when we went, but due to the late winter, we had to park about a mile down the road and walk up to the entrance. The trail is supposed to be real easy and handicapped accessible, but it was entirely covered in about 1-2 feet of snow when we got there. We weren’t about to give up that easily, so we powered through the snow for about 1.5 miles, following the orange flags when it wasn’t clear which way to go, all for an extremely rewarding close-up view of the glacier. There was barely anyone on the trail, which made it all the more special that we got to see it in such a unique state. What’s interesting is as you get closer to the glacier, you will see signs that just display a year–when you finally get to the top, it’s revealed that each of those signs is how large the glacier was during that year–it’s a physical sign of climate change in action, as the glacier has all but vanished in the past 100 years. Rating: 5/5

Exit Glacier Hiking to Exit Glacier

Eat & Drink

  • The Bake Shop: A little restaurant/bakery near the Alyeska ski resort, approximately 1/3rd of the way between Anchorage and Seward, and a nice place to stop by for a quick lunch while driving down. The interior is a bit like a cafeteria, but the tasty food made up for it. They are famous for their sourdough bread. Rating: 4/5
  • Salmon Bake: This is apparently the place that locals from Seward eat–they have fresh seafood and great beer. We tried the king crab legs (authentic ones are supposed to be the size of a woman’s wrist, and yes, we compared) and the halibut, along with some local Alaskan beer. When the check came we experienced a bit of sticker shock relative to the amount of food we got, but hey, this is Alaska, what do you expect. Rating: 4/5

Stay

  • Hotel Seward: We stayed in the Historic Wing, which had somewhat small rooms, but was overall fairly reasonable. A bit expensive for what we got, but the location in downtown Seward was excellent as we were able to check out all the local bars/breweries to drink the famous Alaskan-brewed beer without having to worry about driving back. Rating: 3/5

 Visit Date

  • 05/23/2013

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