Seward Highway, Alaska
A 200 Kilometre All-American Road Showcasing The Natural Beauty Of South-Central Alaska
Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet as seen from the Seward Highway, Alaska. March 12, 2013
It was always going to be but arriving in Alaska was certainly memorable. Within 7 hours of getting on a flight in 30 °C Hawaii, I was dealing with snow, ice & -4 °C temperatures (& sunburn) here in a wintry & Closed-For-The-Winter Alaska.
Having landed from Hawaii in Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage very early this morning, I waited around for the car hire desks to open. I had plenty of time to reality check the fact that I was in Alaska. It felt great, even if at the time I was staring at the almost-empty arrivals hall of a not particularly attractive airport. But at least I had a bear to keep me company.
— davidMbyrne.com (@ByrneDavidM) March 12, 2013
Once the car hire desk opened I was quickly on the road. It was still very early. It was still dark but brightening fast. It was cold & I was tired, having travelled through the night to get here from Hawaii. But I was pumped – I was in Alaska &, better still, I was just about to embark on one of the world’s most scenic drives, the 200 kilometre All-American Seward Highway.
The Seward Highway || An All-American Road
The Seward Highway was completed in 1951 and is a designated All-American Road, one of only 31 roads found in 46 of the 50 US states that have been deemed to meet two of six “intrinsic qualities”, they being archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic. (A National Scenic Byway, of which there are 120 in the country, satisfy one of the aforementioned criteria. An All-American designation means the routes boast features that do not exist elsewhere in the US and are unique and important enough to be tourist destinations unto themselves.) Connecting Anchorage to Seward on Alaska’s scenic Kenai Peninsula and running through the scenic Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm, and Kenai Mountains, for the first 140 kilometres out of Anchorage the highway is numbered Alaska Route 1 (AK-1). It then meets the junction with the Sterling Highway – which leads to Homer, another upcoming stop on my Alaskan itinerary – and continues the remaining 60 kilometres to Seward as Alaska Route 9, AK-9. Regardless of the route name or number, it’s a stunning drive especially if the weather plays ball, just like it did for me today. In good weather the drive could be done in 2-3 hours but with stops along the way – and you should stop along the way – it’ll take longer. It should take longer. This is a route to savour. To appreciate at leisure. Don’t rush it. Oh, and don’t forget your camera either. Here are a few pictures I captured en route to Seward earlier today, my first day in Alaska.
– U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration
Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet
Turnagain Arm’s Tidal Bore
With a mean range (the difference between the highest & lowest) of 9.2 metres (30.3 ft), Turnagain Arm sees the largest tidal range in United States and twelfth largest in the world. It’s also one of only 60 bodies of water worldwide to exhibit a tidal bore, a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves, often dangerous) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay’s current – tidal bores here have been known to reach more than 2 metres (6 ft) in height and to travel at up to 25 kilometres per hour on high spring tides. While there was no tidal bore in action when I stood by the shore of the Arm this morning, there was a strong flow heading towards the Cook Inlet, to the right of the above picture & in the direction I had just travelled in driving here from Anchorage.
Portage Lake & Glacier, Chugach National Forest
A short, recommended diversion off of the Seward Highway brings you to the western edge of the Portage Lake, a glacial lake in the Chugach National Forest.