Whittier is located at the head of Passage Canal on Prince William Sound, 59 miles south of Anchorage via the Seward Highway and Whittier Access Road.
Named after the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, Whittier was created by the U.S. Army during WWII as an port and petroleum delivery center. The 14-story Begich Towers, now a condominium, was originally used by the U.S. Army for family housing and civilian bachelor quarters. Today it houses more than half of Whittier’s population and the City Offices.
Whittier is port of call for the Alaska State Ferry system’s Prince William Sound service to Valdez and Cordova, and is also a port for cruise ships.
A railroad spur from Portage was completed in 1943, and Whittier became the primary military debarkation point for Alaska. Whittier was accessible only by railroad and by ferry until 2000, when the Whittier spur road was completed. Vehicle traffic to Whittier must transit the single-lane, 2.5-mile-long Anton Anderson Tunnel, alternating tunnel time with both the railroad and east-west traffic.
Whittier has accommodations at the following: Anchor Inn (email), Glacier View Suites (1-877-870-8787) and also check the chamber website. Many of the restaurants, shops and tour offices are seasonal, operating only during the summer. The Harbor Store has groceries, fishing supplies and an ATM. Card gas available at the harbor, which also has marine services and repairs, a marine supply store, boat launch and lift, freight services, dry storage and self-storage units. There is a campground located near the public parking area and overnight RV parking (no services) near the east end of the tunnel. Anchor Inn Laundromat provides self serve washers & dryers.
- Guided kayaking, customized wildlife and glacier cruises, fishing charters and water taxis for kayak and camper drop-off in Prince William Sound; Lazy Otter Charters and Cafe, Scheduled glacier and wildlife cruises with food service from Major Marine Tours and 26 Glacier Cruises.
- Enjoy watching all the activity going on at Whittier’s harbor as visitors arrive and depart by cruise ship, tour boat, ferry, charter boat, kayak.
- Hiking trails: Follow Whittier Street 0.5 mile to Eastern Avenue; cross Eastern and drive 0.3 mile up Blackstone Road, then turn right on Salmon Run Road just past the Buckner Building. Salmon Run Road (narrow, dirt) leads 0.4 mile to Horsetail Falls Trail, a 1-mile planked trail to a viewing platform overlooking Whittier and Passage Canal. Or follow Salmon Run Road 0.2 mile and turn left on a second narrow dirt road for 0.4 mile to Smitty’s Cove, Lu Young Park picnic area and access to Emerald Cove Trail and Shotgun Cove Trail beyond.For the 1.75-mile-long Portage Pass Trail, turnoff on the Chugach National Forest access road just east of the tunnel. The first 0.75 miles of this trail—to the pass at 750 feet elevation—is well maintained. It continues another mile as a primitive route to Portage Lake.
- Prince William Sound Museum, A Tribute to Alaska’s Legends, has several exhibits highlighting the town’s history, including the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the Alaska Railroad, and heroic rescue and survival stories.
- Whittier Army Post historic buildings and city history are noted and displayed on interpretive boards around the community.