Alaska’s most populated city, Anchorage is home to more than 290,000 people; more than 40% of the population of the entire state. The city includes 1706 square miles, making it the fourth-largest by land area in the United States. Located in south-central Alaska, the city is at the end of the Cook Inlet and includes nearly all of Chugach State Park, a joint military base and a few outlying communities. Anchorage is nearly the same distance from New York City and from Tokyo and can be reached by air within nine and a half hours from most of the industrialized world, making its airport a regular stop for refueling.
There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage; the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and the Anchorage Concert Association bring performances and events to the city. Those who enjoy sporting events will appreciate the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that begins the first Saturday of March. The city is also where three teams in the Alaska Baseball League play. The University of Alaska Anchorage has sports teams and also sponsors the Great Alaska Shootout, where NCAA Division I basketball teams are featured. There is also no shortage of outdoor recreation in Anchorage, with Chugach State Park, the Alaska Botanical Garden, and Flattop Mountain Recreation Area, among other things to do.
A road trip to Pasagshak Recreation Site is an excellent opportunity to see a portion of the state of Alaska. Created in 1980 to provide access to the public to the lower part of the Pasagshak River, the Recreation Site has a lot to offer visitors, as does the drive to get there, where you can take in beautiful scenery and engage in the adventure you are craving.
While visiting Kodiak, plan to stop at the Alutiiq Museum, a nonprofit museum and cultural center that focuses on the cultural traditions of the Alutiiq people. The museum can be found on the first floor of the Alutiiq Center. During your visit to the museum, you will have the opportunity to take a tour of its exhibits, which focus on the cultural history of the Native people that settled the Koniaq Alutilq Nation.
The cultural center has a gallery along with storage of over 190,000 local artifacts, including field notes, photos, maps and sediment samples among other items. The museum receives its support from the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation and is focused on protecting and sharing the heritage of the Alutiiq people.
After enjoying your time exploring Port Lions, continue your journey to Pasagshak State Recreation Site by taking another car ferry; this time, to Kodiak. The car ferry will take you 32.5 miles over about three hours. During the ferry ride, you will pass Whale Island and Spruce Island, before reaching the city of Kodiak. Upon your arrival, you are just ten minutes from your next stop; Fort Abercrombie State Historic Park.
The Park includes 182 acres with trails that will take you past bunkers and artifacts from the areas World War II outpost, along with beaches and rocky viewpoints where you can experience the natural beauty of the area. During your visit, you can take in abundant wildflowers, tide pools, forests, and Lake Gertrude. There are also summer naturalist programs at the Park that offer the opportunity to learn about the ecology of the area.
As you continue your trip to the Pasagshak State Recreation Site, you will next have to take a car ferry from Homer to Port Lions. The trip covers a distance of 133 miles and will take a little over 11 hours, offering plenty of time to relax and take in the scenery of the area. A popular activity in Port Lions is fishing and there is plenty of water in which to enjoy the activity.
There are sheltered bays between the islands of Kodiak, Afongnak, and Raspberry, with excellent opportunities to catch fish. The months of May and June are good for trophy king salmon, while silver salmon begin appearing in August and halibut can be caught from May through September. There are also opportunities to fish in the streams and rivers of the area. The waters around the town are also a great place to catch sight of whales, along with sea otters, sea lions, and seals.
Homer, Alaska, which is about an hour and a half from Soldotna is your next stop; specifically, Bishops Beach Park. Popular among locals and tourists, the beach is known to be a great place to take a walk and possibly view some wildlife. Kachemak Bay’s 25-foot tides sweep the beach and while the best time to check it out is during low tide, keeping track of the tide schedule is important as they can come in quickly.
Visitors to the beach during the month of May have a chance to catch sight of shorebirds and waterfowl that are migrating. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and look for rocky outcrops that create pools of water where you can find blue mussels and barnacles, jellyfish and crabs. Take a walk and enjoy the amazing scenery of Bishops Beach Park.
About two hours and 15 minutes from Portage Glacier is your next stop; Soldotna and The Homestead Museum, which is made up of a historic log village. The log buildings include the last territorial school, built in 1958, with its gas lanterns still hanging from the ceiling. There's also Damon Hall, which is a large building that was built for the Alaska Centennial, and now houses wildlife mounts and a background mural of their natural habitat. The former Soldotna Chamber of Commerce tourist center is another log building that can be visited and which includes artifacts and photos.
In addition to the historical structures, visitors can enjoy the local flowers and berries that can be found on the grounds of the museum. There are paths available that provide an easy walk to the nearby Centennial Campground as well as to the Soldotna Visitor Center.
As you depart Anchorage, proceed southwest for less than an hour and a half before you arrive at your first stop; Portage Glacier. Located in the Chugach National Forest, Portage Glacier is one of the most visited attractions in Alaska and is a designated U.S. Forest recreation area. The five-mile Portage Glacier Access Road will take you past multiple campgrounds and to the area where the glacier is located.
At the end of a lake, Portage Glacier is ten stories tall and miles long and can be accessed by boat through one-hour tours where you can hear about the geology of Portage Valley, its wildlife and its history. After visiting Portage Glacier by boat, return to land and experience other nearby glaciers. The Trail of Blue Ice will take you along gravel paths and boardwalks that connect the glaciers and campgrounds, providing a unique experience.
From Kodiak, you are about an hour away from your destination of the Pasagshak State Recreation Site. The Pasagshak River is about three miles long, terminating at the head of Pasagshak Bay. Visitors will be struck by the rugged beauty of the location; expect a lush green landscape with views of nearby mountains. Located on a remote river delta on Kodiak Island, the area is known for world-class salmon fishing and abundant wildlife. As a result of its remote location, Pasagshak State Recreation Site receives fewer visitors than other locations, offering the chance to experience not only beauty but solitude.
Pasagshak State Recreation Site offers multiple opportunities for outdoor activities. Kayaking is popular and affords incredible views of the island’s wild coast. While there are no developed hiking trails, at the Recreation Site, you can roam the beach or choose to hike in a nearby area, like Pyramid or Pilar Mountain. Fish for salmon or trout during your visit, with excellent spots for fishing able to be accessed on foot or by kayak. The area is also ideal for wildlife viewing; keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals, and whales, as well as the Kodiak Bear, found only on the Kodiak Archipelago.
With a campground that is first-come, first-served, you can spend a night or two at the Pasagshak State Recreation Site, soaking in all it has to offer.