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Whittier Viewing Opportunities
Once accessible only by boat or rail, this gateway to Prince William Sound is now a 60-mile drive from downtown Anchorage. Whittier is a convenient starting point for glacier cruises, charters, and tours as well as a hub for ferry service to Valdez, Cordova, and Kodiak.
The 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which opened to vehicle traffic in 2000, is North America’s longest highway tunnel. Because cars also share the one-lane tunnel with trains, vehicles are admitted on a rotating schedule, every half hour. Schedules and toll information are available by phone, radio, and online at www.tunnel.alaska.gov. The tunnel was specially engineered for severe Alaska conditions, including temperatures to -40° F and winds up to 150 mph.
Whittier, a community of fewer than 300, encompasses 12.5 square miles of land. Tucked into a small pocket of land between glaciers, forest, and the 7.2-mile Passage Canal, the town is often shrouded in fog or mist. Known for rainy, windy weather, Whittier experiences summer temperatures as low as 49° F.
Harbor seals and sea otters are common sights in the Whittier Small Boat Harbor. You might also see salmon enthusiastically leaping from the water, a sight that cues locals to run for their fishing poles. King salmon run from May through early July. From late July through early September, a run of silver salmon brings anglers from throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Whittier is also home to Alaska’s first artificial reef, put in place in 2006. The concrete structure, made of concrete balls and pyramids weighing between 300 and 400 pounds each, lies 30 to 40 feet below the surface of Smitty’s Cove, a small cove in Passage Canal just east of Whittier. The federally-led project was designed to enhance fish habitat. Local species include king and pink salmon, walleye pollock, Pacific tomcod, Pacific herring, white-spotted greenling, and starry flounder.
For more information on the lands surrounding Whittier, stop by the Chugach National Forest’s Prince William Sound backcountry visitor information kiosk on the boardwalk, which is staffed throughout the summer.
For information about visitor services, visit the Whittier Chamber of Commerce website, or write the chamber at P.O. Box 607 Whittier, Alaska 99693.