PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
Prince William Sound is one of the brightest jewels of the South Central Alaska Pacific. Ringed by a rugged shoreline and buffered from rougher ocean swells by Montague and Hinchinbrook Islands, the Sound is reasonably sheltered yet still expansive enough to have an open, “big water” feel.
Mountains rise steeply out of the Sound, creating beautiful fjords that present endless opportunities for adventure. Over three thousand miles of pristine coastline provide boaters with ample protected area for sport and recreation.
Several tidewater glaciers terminate in the waters of Prince William Sound. Imposing and impressive, these rumbling mountains of snow are nothing short of spectacular. When actively calving, they treat visitors to the sight of large waves and showers of shattered ice.
Off the Beaten Path
While close to Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage, Prince William Sound remains largely undeveloped, hosting only five communities: Whittier, Valdez, Cordova, Chenega and Tatitlek.
Chenega and Tatilek can only be reached by boat or small aircraft. These villages remain largely inhabited by the descendants of Alaska Native populations that have called this region home for a nearly a millennia.
Cordova is a thriving fishing community. While it has a limited road system all its own, the town is only accessible to outsiders via aircraft or boat.
Whittier and Valdez can both be reached from the main Alaska Highway system. Visitors to Whittier must plan their trip according to the schedule of the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel.
Once outside these communities, there is very little in the way of amenities or services. Visitors enjoying the Sound must be self-reliant, self-contained and, above all, prepared.
Much of the Sound falls within the boundaries of the Chugach National Forest and other state lands. This includes fourteen marine parks, four of which are within relatively easy boating range of Whittier. Additional acreage is owned by Alaska Native corporations or other private landowners.
Prince William Sound encompasses the world’s northernmost rain forest. Its considerable precipitation yields a rich presence of unique flora, such as Sitka spruce and western hemlock. The sound is also home to a wide variety of terrestrial and marine mammals, birds and fish.
Endless Recreational Possibilities
Summer days are indeed long on the Sound. Your journey is only limited by the length of your stay and your imagination!
There are many options for those seeking overnight accommodations in the Sound. The State Division of Parks and US Forest Service manage several public use cabins. These are quite popular and must be reserved well ahead of your trip. If you have your heart set on a little more comfort, there are also a number of private remote fishing lodges and wilderness cabins. These exclusive cabins and lodges can range from the rustic to the luxurious…no matter the style, they all requiring careful planning and advanced reservations as well.
Marine charts are useful for mariners, but for parties wanting to get out and explore the coastline, National Geographic offers their excellent Trails Illustrated map series (Prince William Sound itself is actually covered by two maps). Online resources include Google Earth, the University of Alaska’s Geographic Information Network (Internet Map Server), and TopoZone.
In short, Prince William Sound remains an open and inviting place to experience the true Alaska wilderness. While air travel remains the best way to view it broadly, when one wants to really appreciate and understand the beauty of the Sound and all its natural resources, a boat trip is definitely in order. If this is the experience you’ve been searching for, we would be happy to chat more about a reservation.
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