Alaskan Adventures: Whittier

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Before visiting Alaska,I imagined Alaska as teeming with icebergs, calving glaciers, bears, vast open lands, snow clad mountains,caribous and bald eagles and salmon. We got to see all of the above in Kenai and Denali -more than I ever imagined. But thanks to Discovery channel, we wanted to see the spectacular glacier calving. The one where the entire cliff seems to collapse rocking everything below with thundering echoes.

One of our friends wisely pointed out that the calving is result of global warming and wanting to see more glaciers calve is not good for the health of the planet. But the glaciers would calve whether we were there to watch it or not. So we decided to skip Native Alaskan Heritage Center and instead drove down back south to Whittier – which is gateway to Prince William Sound.

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Although not a national park like Kenai Fjord and Denali, PWS is the place to watch glaciers up close. There isn’t much wildlife here to be seen (other than the salmon hatchery,sea puffs and occasional otter). So if you decide to fly into anchorage instead of taking the cruise, and want to spent an afternoon watching glaciers and ice-bergs then go to Whittier. Also the water here is calm so this is a great alternative to Kenai Fjord cruises if sea sickness is a concern.

To reach Whittier you have to cross a tunnel that is shared with rail road tracks and hence the tunnel is open only at specific times. I have heard that the wait can be longer in peak season but we crossed over in 10 -15 minutes.

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Once there we went an eco-friendly cruise.The cruise was boring as we ferried across the water. The only interesting part was when we reached the glaciers and saw them calve.There is truly nothing else to see on this cruise. But the glaciers and ice-bergs made it worth its while.

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On the way back from Whittier, we stopped at Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood, to watch Moose, Elk, Bears and other animals that are rescued and provided a shelter till they can be released into the wild again. Awesome concept and a great way to see all the big animals together. So if you didn’t get to see them enough in the wild or didn’t get closeup shots of them in the wild,this is a great spot.We lingered here for an hour or so before we had to drive back to Anchorage.

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We were all flying out that evening from Anchorage on different flights. We wanted to have spare time to return the car, grab dinner and then check in/security.

It was a refreshing 5 day trip.A teaser, tantalizing our appetite for more.The vast open landscape of Alaska and the unhurried pace of life was welcoming. Its the place to go with a  RV and drive around. Nature here exceeds expectations. Stunning views vie for your attention at every turn.

This is one place I hope to return for a longer time ,a month or so at least. Preferably in fall. And visit Homer, Katmai and Denali again!

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About rutujak

A travel addict, self confessed foodie and a mom trying to make SFO my home after a decade in Seattle and a stint in Hyderabad, India.

Posted on April 13, 2013, in National Parks, Travel, USA and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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