Portage Glacier Valley Guide and Information
At the head of Portage Valley, about fifty miles south of Anchorage, at the end of scenic Turnagain Arm, lies the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center and the beautiful Portage Glacier. Portage Lake is deep enough to submerge an 80-story building. The Begich,Boggs Visitor Center was built by the U.S. Forest Service in 1986. However, Portage Glacier can no longer be viewed from there. A boat ride across the lake is required to view the glacier since it has retreated behind a mountain since the center was built. Commercial boat tours are available here from Portage Glacier Cruises from mid-May to mid-September.
Living glaciers continue to carve the landscape and shape the life on the Chugach National Forest. Built on the remnants of a terminal moraine left by Portage Glacier, the Begich,Boggs Visitor Center is staffed with Forest Service interpreters available to answer questions, assist with trip planning, and provide programs on the historical and natural wonders of the Portage Glacier valley. The award-winning film, “Voices From the Ice” is shown hourly and provides a spectacular view of many glaciers and wildlife. The visitor center currently houses exhibits demonstrating “glaciers on the move” with insight into the retreat of Portage glacier. Although Portage Glacier is no longer visible from the Visitor Center, due to its retreat, the face of the glacier is still partially in Portage Lake.
Directions to the Visitor’s Center:
(Open weekends only in winter, 9 to 6 in summer) The turn off for Portage Valley Road and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is located approximately 50 miles south of Anchorage or around 80 miles north of Seward on the New Seward Highway. Turn onto Portage Valley Road and go approximately 5 miles to the end. Follow the road to the right and there will be a turn-off to the Portage Glacier Lodge on the left. Keep following the road as it loops around. The first road off to the right after you pass the lodge is the road to the Ptarmigan boat dock. Lakefront parking is just up ahead and if you continue towards the visitor center, there is available parking with special areas for buses and larger vehicles.
Portage Glacier Location:
Portage Glacier is located adjacent to Turnagain Arm, 50 miles southeast of downtown Anchorage. Road access is via the Seward Highway to the former town of Portage, which was flooded and subsequently vacated following the 1964 Alaska earthquake. The Portage Glacier Road runs 6 miles, mostly past USFS campgrounds, to the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. The main road used to end here, but now continues eastward, leading to the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel and to Whittier.
See our Portage Glacier Map page.
Portage Glacier Access:
By road via the Seward Highway. You may walk out onto the ice during winter for a brisk 30 minute walk each way. (The large picture at the top was taken on one of those walks.)
Portage Glacier Accommodations:
Camping sites and RV hookups in the Portage Valley
In nearby Girdwood: 1 resort, numerous condos/chalets/cabins/bed and breakfasts, 8 restaurants/cafes/snackbars.