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Whittier and Valdez (includes ferry ride)

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By Blesk (15 McR Points) on Jan 22, 2012

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Written Directions

This route includes a ferry, so be sure to check the ferry schedule when planning. Head south from Anchorage on Seward Highway (hwy 1) running along Cook Inlet. At the end of the Turnagain Arm of the inlet, take Portage Glacier hwy toward Whittier. A portion of this highway is a single-lane tunnel which gets opened in alternating directions every 30 minutes, so account for this when looking at the ferry schedule. The trip to Valdez takes about 2hr 45mins via the high speed ferry. You've reached the end point of this route in Valdez but you want to continue on Richardson Highway (hwy 4) north from Valdez. From there you have the option of taking hwy 1 back to Anchorage for a full loop, or taking McCarthy Road/Edgerton Highway for a side trip to McCarthy and Kennecott mines if you are comfortable with dirt roads.

Scenery

The first portion of the route is along the gorgeous Turnagain Arm. The highway runs right along the shore line, with scenery of mountains across the bay. On the way to Whittier, you pass Portage glacier and lake. The 3-mile tunnel from Portage lake to Whittier is a unique experience. It runs through the heart of a mountain in a skinny single lane. The ferry from Whittier to Valdez is a great scenic experience with views of glaciers and icebergs. The captain usually announces when seals, dolphins and humpback whales are visible around the boat. There is a cafeteria on-boards which serves beer. The last section of the road from Valdez winds through a valley with waterfalls cascading on both sides. You are likely to see bear, moose and mountain sheep along this section.

Drive Enjoyment

Overall road quality very good by Alaska standards. Only the tunnel to Whittier is skinny and you have to ride in between railroad tracks.

Tourism Opportunities

Average by Alaska standards. Restaurants exist in Whittier and Valdez, otherwise it's just the occasional gas station.

Motorcycle Road Additional info

Whittier tunnel schedulehttp://dot.alaska.gov/creg/whittiertunnel/schedule.shtml Ferry Schedule and cost varies by date. http://www.akmhs.com/schedules/ When I was there, the ferries servicing the Whittier-Valder route were Aurora (slow) and Chenega (high speed). The cost of the ferry may seem a bit costly, but it is an experience all to itself. Especially if you have never taken your motorcycle on a ferry. Think of it as a poor man's Alaskan cruise.

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