Touring Along the Turnagain Arm

Previous post: Morning at Potter Marsh

The Turnagain Arm is a 48-mile long estuary that lies between the Chugach and Kenai mountains. From Anchorage, the Seward Highway runs southwest from city along the water, clinging to the edge, with just a single railroad track separating us from the vast mudflats of low-tide. Beyond the water, the Kenai mountains shimmer in the morning haze.

On the other side of the road, the Chugach mountains tower directly overhead.

It makes for a dramatic drive.

Our first stop is the scenic lookout at Beluga Point (Mile 110).

Apparently the bore tide comes through here dramatically, but the tide is out now and the water that remains doesn’t seem to be home to any belugas at the moment. It’s very quiet this morning.

Back on the road we enjoy the scenery and then come around a bend to find cars parked at odd angles along the road. We start to stop even before we realize what the attraction is.

The four young Dall sheep are maybe 20 feet above the roadway. (The adults are far, far above them, so far up they are just moving white specks on the mountainside.) I love watching them pick their way over boulders and across skree without losing their footing.

Apparently this is Windy Point (Mile 106), which the Milepost assures us is a great place to stop and watch Dall sheep.

So it is.

All the guidebooks recommend a stop at Indian Valley Meats, so we turn up into the mountains at mile 103 to stock up on road snacks in the form of smoked meats and fish. Yum!

On the highway again, we stop to enjoy the view back down the arm. . .

. . . and then turn onto the Alyeska Highway and into the mountains that surround Girdwood.

Girdwood is a big ski area with Alyeska as its fancy resort centerpiece. Lots of guidebooks recommend breakfast at the Bake Shop at the Alyeska Resort, so this is where end up, sitting in the bakery, reading the Anchorage paper (Stevens is still running for re-election and proclaiming his innocence while the state’s governor is trying to dodge a scandal involving her ex-brother-in-law and the head of the state patrol - politics here sounds really, really fascinating) and journaling while we wait for our breakfast.

It is a good thing the setting is lovely, since the food is truly awful.

Time to head back to Anchorage.