Brochure of Portage Valley at Chugach National Forest (NF) in Alaska. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
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Opened to the public in 1986, and rededicated with new exhibits in 2001, the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is built upon the terminal moraine left behind by Portage Glacier in 1914. The visitor center offers a unique opportunity to learn about the Chugach National Forest. At 5.4 million acres, the Chugach is one of the largest national forests in the United States. Award-winning exhibits, educational presentations, the film “Retreat and Renewal” and information services are available to serve the public. 3. Explorer Glacier Viewing Area This area offers a great view of Explorer Glacier. Keep a lookout for signs of beaver activity in the area. Portage Valley offers visitors a lot to see and do, from hiking and camping, to fishing, wildlife viewing and photography. Here are a few places you won’t want to miss! 4. Tangle Pond Trout fishing opportunities exist. 5. Black Bear Campground A 13-site campground designed for tent and small RV camping. Cleared sites, campfire rings, bear-proof dumpster, bear-proof food containers, water pump, picnic tables and outhouses. No hookups or dump station. 1. Moose Flats Day Use Area A great spot to stop and have a picnic, enjoy a 1/2 mile walk on the interpretive boardwalk trail, or do a little trout fishing. 2. Alder Pond Try your luck or practice your technique at this trout fishing location. (humpy) and silver (coho). Williwaw Nature Trail starts here. This easy 1/2 mile trail connects the viewing platform to Williwaw ponds. The creek near the trail is closed to salmon fishing. the maintained trail is not recommended. Avalanche debris fields and cave-like structures are not stable and serious injuries or death may occur. Length 0.9 miles. Time: one hour round trip. Elevation gain: 100. 7. Williwaw Campground A 60-site fully accessible campground designed for RV and tent camping. Paved sites with pull-through style parking pads, campfire rings, bear-proof dumpsters, hand-water pumps, outhouses, picnic tables and bearproof food containers. No hookups or dump station. 10. Portage Glacier Cruises Hour long tours of Portage Lake to Portage Glacier, operated by Holland America under a special use permit with the Forest Service. Forest Service interpreters provide narration during each trip. Cruise operates from mid-May thru mid-Sept. For information on trip times, ticket prices and reservations call: 1-800-544-2206. 8. Williwaw Ponds Trout fishing opportunities exist. 6. Williwaw Salmon Viewing Platform Early August through mid-November you can see salmon traveling up the creek to spawn. Species normally seen are red (sockeye), chum (dog), pink 9. Byron Glacier Trail An easy to moderate trail along Byron Creek. Avalanche danger exists throughout winter into spring. Travel past el tunn ittier h to W ailro a d 3 Trail of Blue Ice 10 E GLAC L D GLAC ON If you plan on fishing, be sure to check the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s fishing regulations before you go. e tag r Po s Pas SHAKESPEARE GLACIER corrid o Port a ge L ak r 9 IER d R CIE R GL RE A O 5 pad dlecr aft acce ss Portage Glacier Cruises BYR 2 Begich, Boggs Visitor Center 6 7 13. Portage Glacier Day Lodge Privately owned gift shop and restaurant operated year around under special use permit from the Forest Service. For more information, please call (907) 783-3117. e 4 1 8 aw lliw ail Wi re Tr tu Na MID ka R R IE to Seward 79.5 miles Alas Portage Hig hwa y roa Rail ska Ala The center is also available for special events, meetings, educational activities and may be rented. For more information call 907-783-2326 during the summer or 907-783-3242 year round. way Sce ni gh Hi The BEGICH, BOGGS VISITOR CENTER is open daily 9am-6pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. d to Portage boat tour & Byron Glacier Trail y wa By Portage Glacier Day Lodge to Anchorage Se 50 miles wa reek r Portage C 12. Gary Williams Moraine Nature Trail An easy, self-guided trail showing glacial effects upon the landscape. Length: 1/4 mile loop. Time: 20 minutes. Elevation gain: 25 ft. 11 toll booth & staging area scenic viewpoint & paddlecraft access EXPL T Blurail e I of ce c 13 12 CHUGACH MOUNTAINS lakeshore. Length: 2 miles. Time: Three-four hours. Elevation gain: 750 feet. 11. Portage Pass Trail Trail starts on the Whittier side of the tunnel. This moderate trail leads to Portage Pass with spectacular views of Portage Lake and Glacier, and the surrounding sub-alpine terrain, and continues to Portage Lake Begich, Boggs Visitor Center Portage Hwy. Points of Interest B GL URN AC S IER Begich, Boggs Visitor Center PORTAGE GLACIER N For more information about Portage Valley please contact: Why is the Ice Blue? Watchable Wildlife Wild Weather These rivers of ice remind us of times long past. Yet, today, these icy giants continue to exert their influence on the land. Their effects can be seen throughout South-central Alaska. Some of the more common signs of glacial activity include: Glacier ice is formed under the weight of countless snowfalls, which squeezes out most of the air, leaving dense, compact ice. Sunlight, or white light, is made up of all the colors of the spectrum, with each color having a different amount of energy. In regular ice, like the ice in your freezer, the air bubbles scatter the light, creating the white appearance. When sunlight strikes glacier ice, the lower energy colors are absorbed by the ice and only the blue color, which has the most energy, is reflected back to the eye! Portage Valley is a wild place! From the tiniest of shrews to the large Alaskan moose - many creatures call Portage Valley home. With a few tips, some patience and a little luck, you’ll be able to make your wildlife encounters enjoyable and memorable. Due to its location, Portage Valley is host to a variety of wild weather situations. As clouds rise over the Chugach and Kenai mountains they drop lots of rain and snow on the mountains below. So even though it may be sunny in Anchorage only 55 miles away there may be gale force winds driving heavy rains in Portage Valley. Moraines Large piles of rock and debris are deposited by glaciers as they flow down, or retreat from, valleys. In fact, the Visitor Center is built on a terminal (end) moraine that was deposited by Portage Glacier between the late 1890’s and 1914, when it began its most recent retreat. Before Portage and Burns Glaciers began their latest retreats, early traders, miners, and indigenous peoples traveled across these glaciers using them as a ‘portage’ between Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. Today, the railroad and tunnel to Whittier provide this important transportation link for people. The Visitor Center is named after Congressman Nick Begich of Alaska and Senator Hale Boggs of Louisiana. They, their pilot Don Jonz, and congressional aide Russel L. Brown, disappeared in 1972 en route to Juneau from Anchorage. They were last heard from as they flew over Portage Pass, and no sign of the men or their plane has ever been found. 4 19 8 197 4 195 0 1939 11 19 08 All photos © 2003 Burnie Schultz 39 To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250–9410 or call (202) 720–5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visitor Center 19 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TDD). black-billed magpie bald eagle fox sparrow Wilson’s warbler orange-crowned warbler golden-crowned sparrow common redpoll ruby-crowned kinglet Steller’s jay common merganser common goldeneye 18 1852 AIR 1994 19 2015 Portage Glacier 50 s rn ier u B ac Gl Portage Glacier has advanced and retreated over the years, due to climatic fluctuations. This diagram illustrates the retreat of both Portage and Burns Glaciers over the last two centuries. Blue indicates the current position of the lake (the main retreat of Portage Glacier) and brown indicates land (the main retreat of Burns Glacier). LAND moose brown bear black bear mountain goat beaver LAND (continued) porcupine short-tailed weasel coyote grey wolf hoary marmot snowshoe hare red squirrel red-backed vole common shrew WATER dolly varden rainbow trout pink (humpy) salmon red (sockeye) salmon silver (coho) salmon chum (dog) salmon WILDLIFE CHECKLIST Play It Safe And Enjoy Your Stay Be prepared for quick changes in weather. Heavy rain/snow and strong winds can occur any time. Keep in mind that medical help is far away! Plan ahead and prepare. Stay off the lake ice in the winter. Periods of freezing and thawing throughout the winter make the ice very unstable. Avalanche danger exists in Portage Valley even in the summer months. Stay off avalanche debris and out of cave-like structures - they can collapse without warning. Don’t approach wildlife! Make noise when hiking, especially in brushy areas, and know how to handle an encounter with a wild animal if you have one. Keep food in airtight containers. When hiking, pack out any food. Be alert for moose and bear that may bolt out in front of your vehicle. Travel anywhere on the Forest is inherently dangerous. You are responsible for your safety at all times. welcome to Portage Glacier — More than a Century of Change. These animals live in Portage Valley. Which have you seen? Portage Pass is a narrow land bridge between Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm. As the air pressure between Strong winds in Portage Valley create flag trees; branches only the two areas equalizes, grow on the side out of the wind. extremely high winds can be created. These winds have snapped 50 foot flagpoles like twigs, peeled away asphalt, and lifted boxcars from the railroad tracks. PORTAGE VALLEY Silt The unique milky blue coloration of Portage Lake and Portage Creek is due to the silt or rock flour that stays suspended in the water. As glaciers move over the landscape, the rocks they pick up along the way grind against the mountainsides creating the fine dust-like particles. Did you know? • Be considerate of wildlife. • Use binoculars, spotting scopes & telephoto lenses for the best views. • Keep a safe distance between you and any wildlife be alert for changes in the animal’s behavior that may indicate that you’re too close! • Never feed wild animals - it’s dangerous for you and the animals! • Keep your pets under control - it’s best to leave them at home or in your vehicle. • When hiking with pets always keep them on leashes. • Harassing wild animals for any reason is never OK - it is against the law! • To know where to look for wildlife, learn where they live. • Remember most species aren’t going to be active during the middle of the day - you may need to adjust your schedule to fit theirs. • Wildlife can be seen anywhere, at anytime, but it’s not always obvious. C H U G A C H N AT I O N A L F O R E S T P O R T A G E , A L A S K A U-shaped valleys Rocks, embedded along the sides and bottom of the glacier, create the same erosive qualities as a large piece of sandpaper, scouring the mountainside. This, along with silt and gravel that is deposited by the glacier, create steep walled, flat-bottomed (or U-shaped) valleys like Portage. R10-RG-233 Begich, Boggs Visitor Center Glacier Ranger District (Summer) PO Box 129, Girdwood, AK 99587 (907) 783-2326 or (907) 783-3242 or Chugach National Forest (Year-Round) 161 E. 1st Ave. Door 8 Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 743-9500 www.fs.usda.gov/chugach Glaciers