Thursday, July 14, 2016

Portage Valley, AK - Stop 27 on our Trek North to Alaska

Reluctantly, we said farewell to Homer on Tuesday morning and headed to Williwaw Campground in the Portage Valley.  This place is a boondocker's delight!   Whoever designed this campground clearly knew what makes RVers happy.  Its sites are so humongous in size, we could have fit two of our setups in our pull thru!

The sites are wooded on all sides providing plenty of privacy, yet offer clear access to the sun to charge solar panels.  Each site has a big picnic table and fire pit, and the campground has terrific views of Middle Glacier to boot. 

Scenery from Williwaw Campground

View of Middle Glacier from Williwaw Campground


I’m awarding Williwaw Campground a coveted Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese rating!

We experienced some of the best weather of our entire trip here in the Portage Valley, with three days in a row of warm temperatures (high 70s to low 80s) and sunny skies!

We immediately hit the Williwaw Hiking Trail that originates right from the campground, stopping first at the Salmon Viewing Area.   I was disappointed that there were no specimens to be seen here yet.  The salmon are not due to arrive for about another week.  Timing is everything, isn’t it. We did get to see some really cool waterfalls, though!

We toured Whittier yesterday.  It is a unique place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to be one of the 217 (as of 2014 census) people who live there—especially since almost all of the residents live in one 14-story concrete building called Begich Towers, which is a former Army barracks from 1956.   I imagine it is quite hard to avoid a nosy neighbor there, not to mention the pool for dating prospects must be slim pickins!   Begich Towers also houses the post office, bank, and city hall!  I guess the mayor must live in the blue painted penthouse.

Whittier's harbor

 Begich Towers, truly a multi-use building.  At least it comes with a great view of a waterfall!

Whittier is accessible by ferry, train, or auto. The trains and automobiles must share tunnel access.  Therefore, you can only enter and exit the tunnel by vehicle at specific intervals during the day.

Speaking of tunnels, Whittier also has a pedestrian tunnel that leads from the docks to "downtown"--yep, they refer to the Begich Building as "downtown."

Warning:  It's cold in the pedestrian tunnel!

We visited Whittier’s very few shops and its museum.  We were particularly intrigued by the exhibit on the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake (the largest earthquake in recorded history) and its resulting tsunami.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Lu Young Park before embarking on a historical walking tour.

View from Lu Young Park

On the way back to the campground, we viewed several area glaciers, including Portage and Burns. 

Burns Glacier

Portage Glacier

We also stopped at the Chugach National Forest Visitor Center to see the film and view the exhibits.  We got a quick lesson in edible versus poisonous berries while there, too.  And, Dad and I were very excited to see our old friend Smokey the Bear!

We are three good looking dudes!

My family wanted to get a little more hiking in, so we walked the 1.5 miles back to the campground.

While Claudia/Mike went to Girdwood today, we decided to take a hike along the Blue Ice Trail.  By doing so, we were able to “multi-task”—we clocked almost 10 miles while enjoying some beautiful scenery, Dad cast his fishing pole at Alder Pond, and Mom and I picked berries along the way. 

Cool moss hanging on forest trees

Fishing at Alder Pond

Explorer Glacier

Can’t believe we have just a two more weeks left for touring Alaska—time really does fly when you are having fun!

Will speak to you again real soon from Valdez!




  1. Looks like you guys are having spectacular weather. When we stayed there there was a women walking around the campground with a parrot on her shoulder.
    Safe travels!

  2. We will be heading back to Whittier with Tracy & Lee and will definitely have to check out the walking tunnel! Missed that the first time! God you had a great time there!

  3. We loved Williwaw, too. Must have just missed each other there. I agree with your assessment of Whittier. I found it rather depressing the day we visited, but the dreary wet day didn't help either. Nice post!