Kittleson Law Office

Portage Glacier Begich Boggs Visitor Center

This visitor center provides the best information on glaciers that we have found so far.  There are exhibits, some of which are interactive, displays showing the flora and fauna found around recently receded glacier areas, a movie with subtitles for the hearing impaired explaining the formation and life cycle of glaciers and even a piece of the ice for up close and personal inspection.  Do you believe in ice worms or do you think they are mythical creatures?  Take a look at the ice worm displays for mysteries revealed!  

The visitor center is free to enter.  There is a $1.00 per person (kids age 6 and under are free) charge to see the film.  There are modern restrooms in the center for all the guests.  When the center was originally built, Portage Glacier was visible from the viewing areas facing the lake.  Now one must take a boat out to the face of the glacier, or drive around the left side of the lake toward the Whittier tunnel to see Portage Glacier.  

The Moraine Trial leaves from the northwest corner of the parking lot at the visitor center.  This is a very easy quarter mile round trip trail that gives information about the reforestation that occurs after a glacier recedes.  The first half of the trail is paved.  People who prefer to stay on pavement can return the same way they came, while others can complete the loop on a dirt surface.  

For long road trips down the Kenai Peninsula I try to make it a point to grab a chunk of glacier ice for the cooler.  The density of the ice keeps it from melting as fast as regular ice.  The ice chunks can be found along the edge of the lake, but usually one must wade into the lake to retrieve a piece.  Rubber boots are the best way to get out to the ice, as bare feet have a difficult time tolerating the extreme cold of this lake.  If the chunk of ice you find is too large to lift out of the water, bring it in as close as possible to shore.  Then use the largest rock you can find to smash chunks off the iceberg.  If this does not bring the Neanderthal out in you, then buddy, evolution has gone a bit too far!  

For a fun and fascinating trip,  proceed past the visitor center on Portage Highway.  Follow the road another 2 or 3 miles, all the way back to its end where there will be a large parking lot.  To find the glacier tour boat, turn right just before the parking lot at a road with signs indicating the Portage Glacier Cruise.

Portage Glacier Cruises operates the MV Ptarmigan for an hour tour on Portage Lake.   I remember coming to visit the glacier when I was very young, and the face of the glacier  could be seen from the parking lot.  It is amazing how far the glacier has retreated.  The boat comes close enough to the glacier to appreciate its awesome grandeur.  The cost for a tour is $25 for adults, $12.50 for children under 12, and runs daily at 10:30 a.m. and noon, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.  

Last Visited: July 1999

 


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