Things to Do
Here you'll find links to several possibilities for sightseeing. The good folks at the Hotel Alyeska will be happy to help with ideas and logistics. But first, check out this list of activities organized by Sea Grant Week planners.
SGW directed activities
- Fishing float trip on Kenai River, Sunday, 9/16
- Alaska Native crafts workshop, Tuesday, 9/18
- Two-hour hike with Terry Johnson, Friday, 9/21
- Seward field trip, Saturday, 9/22
- All-day hike with with Terry Johnson, Saturday, 9/22
Activities by place
Your plane will land in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city (by far!). Learn more about activities in Anchorage.
Kayaks in Whittier.
Our venue is in the small town of Girdwood, within easy reach of the Portage Glacier and the harbor town of Whittier. Learn more about activities near Alyeska Resort.
The harbor town of Seward, destination of the SGW field trip, is just 2 hours south of Girdwood. Learn more about activities in Seward.
Denali National Park
Nic McPhee (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The home of Denali (Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in North America, is located 240 easy highway miles north of Anchorage. The fall shoulder season, when all private vehicles may drive up to 30 miles into the park (weather permitting), begins September 18 and goes until snow closes the road. Contact the park to get an update on conditions before traveling to the park, 907-683-9532.
Fun facts: Denali's base-to-summit rise of 18,000 feet is the largest on Earth. Also, Denali National Park is roughly the size of Massachusetts.
Activities by type
Why don't you just go take a hike? At Alyeska Resort, four trails start right from the hotel, including one of the trails Terry Johnson will use. See the hotel's Hiking & Trekking page for trail maps and more information.
There are many other hiking options along the Seward Highway. A popular one is the Turnagain Arm Trail in Chugach State Park. To find out about other great options, visit AKtrailhead, an online reference for hiking trails in Southcentral Alaska.
Here are some useful resources from Alaska Sea Grant and others that will help make your sightseeing adventure even more memorable.
- Tips for Photographers, Birders, and Wildlife Viewers on Guided Trips [free PDF download from our bookstore]
- Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing [free PDF download from our bookstore]
- Wildflowers and Other Plant Life of the Kodiak Archipelago (most, if not all, of these species are in Southcentral Alaska as well. No flower blossoms in September.)
Common Goldeneye by T. Kline.
Audubon Alaska has birding maps for Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kodiak.
Alaska Helicopter Flightseeing Tours offers trips in the Chugach Mountains around Girdwood, and they offer free pickup service from the Hotel Alyeska. In Seward, book a flightseeing plane ride with Scenic Mountain Air out of the Seward Airport. Google to find other flightseeing companies.
Fishing on Your Own
For roadside fishing for grayling, trout, salmon, and other species, check your Milepost and visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fish Run Timing website. For sportfish species available within easy driving distance of the Alyeska Resort, select “Kenai Peninsula, fresh water,” from the drop-down menu. Also see the Kenai area Sport Fish Area Fishing Report.
Ocean Fishing for Halibut and Salmon
If getting out on the ocean and going for barn-door-size halibut or 30-pound king salmon is more your thing, Google for the many charter boat operations in Whittier, Seward, and Homer. Some companies will have shut down for the season by then, so make sure you contact your preferred company to confirm they’ll still be operating and make a reservation.
Whittier is about 24 miles from Alyeska Resort. Seward is next closest at about 70 miles, and Homer—the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World—is a picturesque four-hour, 180-mile drive from the hotel on the well-maintained, two-lane Sterling Highway, which branches off from the Seward Highway south of Girdwood.
Anchorage and nearby towns offer a number of high quality golf courses. Three more courses are located at the neighboring towns of Kenai and Soldotna, roughly 3 hours by car from the Alyeska Resort. September is the “shoulder season,” so contact these courses before you go to make sure they are open.
- Anchorage Golf Course
Kurt likes this one. Top-notch course, but you might have to dodge flocks of Canada geese on the fairways.
- Moose Run Golf Course
- Settler’s Bay Golf Club
Kurt likes this one—gorgeous mountain backdrop.
- Eagle Glen Golf Club
- Palmer Golf Course
A pretty course with a mountain backdrop.
Located about three hours by car from the Alyeska Resort, check out these courses within 20 miles of each other at Soldotna and Kenai.
Step 1: Buy the Milepost.
Step 2: Research driving times, then add in extra for distractions, detours, and unexpected delays.
Take the ultra-scenic, ultra-long route to Alyeska. From Anchorage, head north (in the opposite direction from Girdwood) on the Glenn Highway, which heads northeast. Highway 1 (which the Glenn is part of) takes you all the way to Glennallen on the Richardson Highway. From there, head south to Valdez, then take the ferry to Whittier and thence to Girdwood. It will take you at least an entire extra day to get to Girdwood, but the scenery is guaranteed to be spectacular.
Be sure to check the September ferry schedule for the M/V Chenega from Valdez to Whittier.
Head to Homer before or after Sea Grant Week on the beautiful Sterling Highway.
Tips for activities on your own
- Get the free Official State of Alaska Vacation Planner.
- Get The Milepost. Alaska's road travel bible is a must if you plan to take a road trip. Order online.
- Get The Alaska App for your iPhone or other mobile browser. It's a new application and is missing some data as a result, but more is being added all the time. It has quite a bit of useful and fun information.
- Visit the State of Alaska Travel and Vacation website.
- Check out the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers online.
- The Hotel Alyeska has good information on day trips near the resort.
- Check the schedules. September is the shoulder season for tourism, and some services begin to shut down for the winter. Please verify that featured items will be operating during your stay. The hotel tour desk will help.
- Check out our other sightseeing resources.