Three for the Road
Much more than just utilitarian arteries linking destinations, scenery-rich drives affirm the adage that getting there is half the fun. And America, an expansive land of diverse topography, wilderness stretches, and legendary roadways, is the undisputed King of the Scenic Drive. Join us as we trace three classic routes through Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming to give you a taste of what panoramic mountain vistas, waterfalls, lush tropical foliage, and glistening beaches can do for the humble family road trip.
Anchorage to Seward, Alaska: 127 miles
Along the Seward Highway, a 127-mile route connecting Anchorage to Seward, the views are as diverse as they are spectacularexpect icy blue glacial ridges, cascading waterfalls, dense forestland, and wildlife including birds, moose, and even grizzly bears. For cruisers who fly into Anchorage and drive south to Seward, the embarkation port for many large ships sailing Alaska's Inside Passage, the drive is an added bonus before getting ship-bound.
The highway follows Turnagain Arm, a spectacular fjord gouged by the slow passage of ancient glaciers. Snow-capped mountains loom across its silty waters, gray clouds float low over rugged mountain ranges off in the distance, and green slopes dotted with tall spruce trees and wildflowers spill down toward the road. Look for Arctic terns swooping across the inlet, their white wings bright against the mist.
At the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (www.wildlife.alaska.gov), near milepost 117, walk along the marsh boardwalk to catch a glimpse of Canada geese, trumpeter swans, and many species of ducks. Back along the highway, you pass waterfalls en route to Beluga Point (near milepost 110), named for the whales who frequent this spot. In Girdwood, at the Alyeska Prince Hotel (www.alyeskaresort.com), near milepost 100, the aerial tram takes you to a 2,300-foot-high observation point for a panoramic vista of mountains and sea.
Back in the car, drive through the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (www.alaskawildlife.org), at milepost 84, to get close-up sightings of rescued and rehabilitated animals such as moose, bald eagles, black bears, muskox, bison, and even a grizzly bear named Hugo. The road ends in Seward, home to the Alaska SeaLife Center (www.alaskasealife.org) located on scenic Resurrection Bay. The facility's stars are the sea lions, some of whom weigh in at 2,000 pounds.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication