Girdwood is a small, mountain community located 30 miles south of Anchorage along scenic Turnagain Arm. Within Girdwood are a mercantile, a post office, a variety of B & B's, a luxury resort, several restaurants and bars, a variety of boutiques and shops and lots of activities. Girdwood, the home of Alyeska Resort, is a year-round community that continues to grow as the allure of quiet living attracts more and more people. Summertime recreation includes fishing for salmon in local glacial streams, hiking in Girdwood's alpine rain forests, river rafting and kayaking, mountain climbing, flightseeing, glacier and wildlife viewing and biking on Girdwood's bike path or the many trails in the valley. Closer to Mt. Alyeska (pronounced alley-eska), sightseers can journey 2,300 feet above the valley floor aboard the Alyeska Tramway to get a bird's eye view of the surrounding glaciers and the Turnagain arm. Also available are tandem paragliding trips departing from the upper tram terminal. Wildlife is abundant in the Girdwood valley. Look for moose, black bear, Dall sheep, hoary marmot, golden and bald eagles, beaver, porcupines, and ptarmigan (Alaska's state bird) among many others.
A 3-1/2-mile side road leads to Mt. Alyeska Resort, Alaska’s largest year-round resort. The aerial tramway carries you to the 2,300 foot level of Mt. Alyeska above the valley floor where you’ll see slopes heavily timbered with spruce, cliffs, waterfalls, and glacial rivulets. Above timberline are vast glacial bowls, steep serrated cliffs soaring to 4,000 ft., and smoothly rolling alpine meadows crowned with wildflowers and moss-covered tundra. A tram links the hotel to the present lift system which includes a bubble-top quad lift, four double chairlifts and two pony lifts.
Crow Pass Trail. Good family trail, 8 mile round trip, 4-6 hours hiking time. High point is 3,500 ft. Features glacier, alpine lake and gold mine ruins. Forest Service cabin (available by reservation) is 3 miles from start of trail. Mining ruins 2 miles. Reach trail via Girdwood Road to Crow Creek Road to parking area at Milk Creek, 5 mi from junction of Crow Creek Road with Girdwood Rd.
The Alyeska Tram is a great way to see the magnificent scenery of the area; it also accesses to one of the best restaurants on the Kenai. There is a 2 for 1 coupon in the Anchorage section of this book.