If you’re looking for a fun day trip, with kids or visiting family, out of Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Valley consider the Aerial Tram at Alyeska. The tram is nice way to experience Alaska in a new interesting way, you may have done the zoo, which is great or even the wildlife center which is also great but the tram is something different, it’s a little exciting and definitely will take your breath away as you lift away from the base and sail high over the trees to the top of Mount Alyeska.
Alyeska Ski Resort, where the tram is located, is in Girdwood and to get there you’ll drive about 45 minutes south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway, a winding mostly 2 lane road that parallels Turnagain Arm. If you time it right you can also watch a bore time come in. The bore tide is interesting to see because it forms a 1-2 foot wall of water as the tide floods back into Turnagain arm, and local surfers try ride the wave. Just google “bore tide Alaska” to find a good time to catch it and you won’t be sorry if you get to see it. The day we went we saw surfers and paddle boarders and we were able to follow them up the the arm as the tide came in, it was exciting to see.
Once you hit Girdwood finding the tram might seem a little tricky, just follow the signs back to the The Hotel Alyeska, behind it is where the tram is located. Just park out front, make your way inside and then veer left, the tram is located just outside the hotel in the back left corner. Buy your tickets outside and get ready to ride.
Once you’ve paid for your ticket you can ride the tram as many times as you want to during that day. This was one of the best parts for us, we went up once with the boys and they were a little nervous about the whole thing. Our second ride up was more relaxed because they knew what to expect and they were now the experts on riding the tram. What can you expect? Well it’s a smooth ride with a few ups and downs, swooping and sailing along to the top of the mountain. As a person with vertigo, I personally enjoyed it a lot, I never felt dizzy or worried about the height. And the tram operator was quite happy to engage our boys and make them feel right at home, especially on their first ride.
Once you’ve hit the top you can easily get out, walk around and enjoy the view. If you’re lucky you can see Turnagain Arm, the entire Girdwood Valley and the 7 hanging glaciers. There’s a restaurant up there too, a cafeteria and museum/giftshop, plus you’re welcome to just walk up or down the mountain. Be aware the northside has a rather sharp drop off and little ones should be kept close at hand. We just happened to see a black bear ambling along about a 1/4 of the way down the mountain from us, so keep your eyes open you never know what you might see.
Top of the tram.
Looking down the mountain, darn rain!
- hiking up the mountain to the tram-it’s a free ride down if you do and a great hike too
- the weather was all over the map the day we went so take a warm coat or a rain coat even if it looks sunny
- you can find plenty of places to get lunch in and around the hotel, or you can pack a picnic and find someplace to eat
- bring binoculars if you have them