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!
a fun and fascinating trip, proceed past the visitor center on Portage Highway.
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