Exploring Seward Highway in an RV: 5 Must-See Stops Along the Way
Exploring Seward Highway in an RV: 5 Must-See Stops Along the Way

Exploring Seward Highway in an RV: 5 Must-See Stops Along the Way

Discover the Ultimate Alaskan Adventure on the Scenic Seward Highway

Are you ready for an epic road trip adventure that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes Alaska has to offer? Look no further than the Seward Highway, a 125-mile stretch of road that winds its way through rugged mountains, pristine forests, and along the stunning coastline of the Last Frontier. And what better way to experience this natural wonderland than in the comfort of an RV? In this guide, we’ll take you through the highlights of this remarkable journey, the best time to visit, key stops along the route, and the perfect places to park your camper van for the night.

Highlights of the Seward Highway RV Road Trip

Before we dive into the details, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the incredible highlights you can expect to encounter on your Seward Highway adventure:

1. Breathtaking Scenic Views

Prepare to have your breath taken away at every turn. The Seward Highway offers some of the most awe-inspiring panoramic vistas in Alaska. Towering mountains, glaciers, fjords, and crystal-clear lakes are just some of the sights that will leave you spellbound.

2. Wildlife Encounters

Alaska is known for its diverse wildlife, and the Seward Highway is no exception. Keep your camera ready for a chance to spot grizzly bears, moose, bald eagles, and even whales if you’re lucky. The highway provides ample opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to get up close and personal with the state’s iconic fauna.

3. Outdoor Adventures

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. Hiking, kayaking, fishing, and camping opportunities abound along the Seward Highway. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced adventurer, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

4. Rich Cultural History

As you travel along the Seward Highway, you’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in Alaska’s rich cultural history. Explore native Alaskan heritage sites, learn about the Gold Rush era, and discover the stories of the people who have called this rugged land home for generations.

5. Charming Coastal Towns

The Seward Highway is dotted with charming coastal towns that offer a warm welcome to travelers. Explore their unique shops, savor fresh seafood, and soak up the coastal charm as you make your way along this iconic route.

Now that you’ve had a taste of what awaits you, let’s delve into the details of planning your Seward Highway RV road trip.

Best Time to Visit the Seward Highway in an RV

Alaska’s weather can be quite challenging, so choosing the right time to embark on your Seward Highway adventure is crucial. The best time to visit largely depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience.

Summer (June to August)

Summer is the peak tourist season in Alaska, and for good reason. During these months, you can expect:

  • Mild Temperatures: Daytime temperatures range from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 24°C), making it the most comfortable time for outdoor activities.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Summer is when wildlife is most active, so you’ll have excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  • Longest Daylight Hours: The days are incredibly long, with up to 19 hours of daylight, giving you plenty of time to explore.
  • Festivals and Events: Alaska hosts numerous festivals and events during the summer, providing a chance to immerse yourself in local culture.

However, keep in mind that summer is also the busiest time, so popular campgrounds and RV parks may fill up quickly. Be sure to book your accommodations well in advance.

Fall (September to October)

If you prefer fewer crowds and don’t mind cooler temperatures, consider visiting in the fall. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Fall Foliage: Witness the stunning transformation of the landscape as the foliage changes colors, creating a picturesque backdrop.
  • Quieter Trails: With fewer tourists, you’ll have more solitude on hiking trails and at popular attractions.
  • Northern Lights: As the nights grow longer, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, especially in September.

However, keep in mind that some facilities and attractions may begin to close for the winter season in October.

Late Spring (May)

Late spring offers a compromise between the busy summer season and the quieter fall season. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Emerging Wildlife: May is when many animals start becoming more active, and you can witness the birth of newborn wildlife.
  • Fewer Crowds: While it’s still relatively quiet compared to summer, more services and attractions are open compared to the fall.
  • Moderate Weather: Although temperatures can vary, May generally offers milder weather than the peak of winter.

Now that you have an idea of when to plan your trip, let’s explore the key stops along the Seward Highway that you won’t want to miss.

Key Stops Along the Seward Highway

The Seward Highway is brimming with attractions and natural wonders. To make the most of your RV road trip, here are five key stops that you should include in your itinerary:

1. Anchorage

Your adventure begins in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Before heading south on the Seward Highway, take some time to explore what Anchorage has to offer:

  • Anchorage Museum: Dive into Alaska’s history and culture at this fascinating museum.
  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: Get up close and personal with bears, moose, and other native animals in a wildlife rehabilitation facility.
  • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail: Enjoy a scenic bike ride or leisurely walk along this stunning coastal trail.

2. Chugach State Park

Just outside Anchorage, you’ll find Chugach State Park, a sprawling natural playground offering:

  • Hiking Trails: Choose from a variety of hiking trails, each offering stunning views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  • Eagle River Nature Center: Learn about the area’s ecology and wildlife at this educational center.

3. Girdwood

Girdwood is a charming town nestled in the mountains, and it’s a perfect place to stop and explore:

  • Alyeska Resort: Take a tram ride to the top of Mount Alyeska for breathtaking views and outdoor activities.
  • Crow Creek Mine: Discover the history of Alaska’s gold rush and try your hand at gold panning.

4. Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier is a must-see natural wonder along the Seward Highway:

  • Visitor Center: Learn about glaciers and their impact on the landscape at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center.
  • Boat Tours: Take a boat tour to get up close to the glacier, where you can witness the majestic ice formations.

5. Kenai Fjords National Park

At the end of your journey, you’ll reach Seward, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park:

  • Boat Tours: Embark on a boat tour to explore the stunning fjords, witness calving glaciers, and spot marine wildlife.
  • Exit Glacier: Hike to Exit Glacier and marvel at the power of glacial ice.
  • Seward SeaLife Center: Get an up-close look at marine life and learn about conservation efforts at this educational center.

These key stops offer a taste of the diverse experiences you can have along the Seward Highway. However, there are many more hidden gems and scenic viewpoints to discover along the way. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of the route itself.

Route Details: Navigating the Seward Highway

The Seward Highway, designated as Alaska Route 9, spans approximately 125 miles, connecting Anchorage to Seward. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, it’s essential to understand the route and plan your stops accordingly.

Starting Point: Anchorage

Your adventure begins in Anchorage, where you can stock up on supplies and prepare for your journey. Make sure your RV is in top condition, as some stretches of the highway can be remote.

Mile 0-30: Anchorage to Girdwood

As you leave Anchorage, you’ll follow the Seward Highway south towards Girdwood. This initial stretch offers glimpses of the Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountains. Be sure to stop at Beluga Point, a popular spot for watching beluga whales in the summer.

Mile 30-60: Girdwood to Portage

Continuing south, you’ll pass through the charming town of Girdwood and approach the stunning Portage Valley. Keep an eye out for the massive peaks of the Chugach Mountains and be prepared for photo opportunities at every turn.

Mile 60-90: Portage to Whittier and Moose Pass

At this point, you have the option to take a short detour to Whittier, a small town accessible through a one-lane tunnel. If you choose to visit Whittier, explore the harbor and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this remote community. Afterward, head towards Moose Pass, known for its beautiful lake and outdoor activities.

Mile 90-125: Moose Pass to Seward

The final leg of your journey takes you from Moose Pass to the picturesque coastal town of Seward. Along this stretch, you’ll encounter breathtaking views of Resurrection Bay and the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for wildlife and enjoy the anticipation of reaching your destination.

Destination: Seward

Congratulations, you’ve arrived in Seward, the endpoint of the Seward Highway. Take your time to explore the town and its many attractions, including the bustling harbor and the scenic waterfront.

Places to Stay with a Camper Van Along the Seward Highway

Now that you’ve explored the route and the key stops, it’s essential to know where you can park your camper van for the night. Fortunately, the Seward Highway offers several options for RV camping and accommodations. Here are some popular choices:

1. Campgrounds and RV Parks

  • Portage Valley RV Park: Located near Portage Glacier, this RV park offers stunning views and full hookups.
  • Bear Creek RV Park: Situated in Seward, this park provides easy access to the town’s attractions and offers a range of amenities.
  • Williwaw Campground: In the heart of Chugach National Forest, this campground offers a rustic camping experience amid beautiful surroundings.

2. State Park Campgrounds

  • Chugach State Park Campgrounds: Several campgrounds within the state park offer a more remote and wilderness-focused camping experience.

3. Boondocking

For those seeking a more off-the-grid experience, there are opportunities for boondocking along the Seward Highway. Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and check local regulations regarding dispersed camping.

4. Seward City Campground

Seward itself has a city campground that provides a convenient location for exploring the town. While it may not have all the amenities of larger RV parks, it offers a unique experience by the waterfront.

5. Resurrection Pass Trail Cabins

If you’re up for a hiking adventure, consider booking one of the cabins along the Resurrection Pass Trail. These cabins provide a cozy retreat in the wilderness and can be a memorable addition to your RV road trip.

Keep in mind that during the peak summer months, campgrounds and RV parks can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially if you have specific sites or amenities in mind.

In conclusion, embarking on an RV road trip along the Seward Highway is a journey of a lifetime. From awe-inspiring natural beauty to wildlife encounters and cultural experiences, this route has it all. Plan your visit during the best time for your preferences, explore the key stops, and choose the perfect places to stay with your camper van. The Seward Highway promises adventure, discovery, and memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for the ultimate Alaskan adventure!