One overcast day in July we awoke to coffee and the beautiful morning view of Jade Lake, nestled in our cabin in Big Lake.  It was one of those overcast, semi-sprinkley days.  It was beautiful but it was also a time for a change in scenery.

What to do?  I know what, let’s go to Portage Glacier!  The glacier is located about an hours drive south of Anchorage.   We would drive to Anchorage (about 90 minutes to the vicinity of the airport), make a few stops then head to the glacier.

We were not dissappointed, the drive thru Wasilla and past Eagle River and through Anchorage always has many sights and sometimes even a moose or two to gawk at.  South of Anchorage we drove on the Seward highway along Cook Inlet for about 48 miles, then turned inland.  Only a few more miles to go and we’re already getting chilly!!

Say "Big Blue Glacier!"

At the visitor center we secure passage on the mv Ptarmigan, the only boat operating on Portage Lake, and wait with warm drink in hand.

Once on the boat our experienced US Forest Service ranger proceeds to tell us the history of this glacier as well as educating us on the geology and glacial mechanics involved in an active glacier.  Top notch all the way!

As we chug across the lake to get up close and personal with this very blue ice we had the option of staying in the heavily windowed cabin area or heading topside into the blustery… might I say it – quite glacial, wind.

Now that's a glacier!


The boat stayed a few hundred yards away for safety but the binoculars brought us up close and personal.  Even from that distance we could hear ice cracking and creaking.

All hopes were to see some calving while the boat lingered for 30 minutes or so.  It was not to be.  The glacier itself was a rich blue in color.  A heavy contrast to the overcast, rain on and off again skies.

mv Ptarmigan at Portage Glacier in Alaska


Visit Portage Glacier Cruises website  to find out why this is such a popular attraction for Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike.

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Written by Dave on July 29th, 2009 - Places

Alaskan Chalet @ Jade Lake

Memories of our time with Alaska