Prince William Sound
More than 3,500 shore land miles of bays, coves and deep fjords comprise the prized seacoast region of Alaska’s famous Prince William Sound. Exceeding the combined area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, this sheltered waterway contains the greatest diversity of habitats found along the entire Eastern Pacific Coast, including the world’s northernmost temperate rainforest. The ice capped peaks of the Chugach mountains reach skyward to 14,000+ ft from the virgin shores of Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees carpeted by lush vegetation. Countless glaciers inch their way through mountain valleys and thunder icebergs into the surrounding fjords and inlets, with 17 tidewater glaciers extending out to seawater! The calm and gentle waters provide homes for a thriving spectrum of marine and bird life, with over 220 species of birds, 30 species of land mammals, and at least a dozen marine mammal species found in the region. A plethora of islands dot the seascape while ebbing tides unveil rocky shores and tide pools adorned with an array of inter tidal life. The endless summer sunlight paints the meadows and marshes with colorful plants and wildflowers.
The most westerly port in Prince William Sound is the community of Whittier, with a population estimate of 218 full time residents. This is our gateway to our adventures! Whittier is located approximately 1 hr south by road from Anchorage. It is also conveniently located for a visit to Denali National Park, via an approximately 6 hr drive by road, or travel by railroad or coach bus.
Many came to know Prince William Sound through the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill of 1989. This environmental disaster rocked the world as media displayed images of polluted landscape and wildlife that horrified the viewers. Today, the Sound has recovered remarkably well, however long term negative effects of the oil pollution remain and scientists work diligently to determine the ultimate impact.