Prince William Sound Sea Kayak
Paddle to Chenega Glacier, Gaamaak Cove, and Jackpot Bay
Paddle among towering tidewater glaciers and explore the northernmost point of the world’s largest temperate rainforest. This is paradise for sea kayaking. Look on in awe at the snow-capped peaks of the Chugach Mountains. The sheer walls of these fjords are draped with tumbling waterfalls making their way into Prince William Sound. Wildlife abounds so keep watch for sea lions, porpoises, eagles and countless other birds. Listen for the exhalations of humpback whales as they surface in the sound. This remarkable Alaskan gem encompasses over 15,000 square miles of coastal wilderness. See the best of Alaska from the seat of your kayak.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: Meet your group at 4 PM at the hotel Comfort Inn Ship Creek lobby. Enjoy dinner, review gear and itinerary, and get acquainted with your group. Get some rest for the adventures ahead!
DAY 2: Meet for 6:30 AM breakfast at hotel. Walk or take hotel shuttle to train station. Board train for travel through the mountains to Whittier - a memorable trip in itself. We will pack a lunch for the train ride. Arrive at PWS Kayak Center and ferry/shuttle service. Load gear on to shuttle and depart for first campsite, arriving at campsite in Jackpot Bay in the late afternoon. Set up camp, learn systems, and share trip expectations in the evening.
DAY 3: Conduct kayak safety and paddling orientation in Jackpot Bay. Paddle deeper into Jackpot Bay and explore the area. Fish for salmon, look for whales, settle into the routine of this amazing area.
DAY 4: Paddle into Icy Bay to our spectacular campsite at Gaamaak Cove. By leaving early in the day and hugging the western shore we will minimize the impact of the “katabatic" wind, the cool air that blows down the massive Sargent Icefield covering the peaks a few miles inland. We’ll see small icebergs flowing along this passage from the face of the Chenega Glacier inside Nassau Fjord. This is a popular site, so it’s possible we may share it with other groups.
DAY 5: After waking up to coffee and breakfast, we’ll paddle into Nassau Fjord and literally come face to face with the Chenega tidewater glacier. Two miles long, this glacier rumbles, rocks and rolls with activity -- so we keep a safe distance. Paddling this stretch will amaze even the most seasoned sea kayaker -- ice, seals, sea otters, mountain peaks, salmon streams, black gravel beaches, and sea caves all in one place! Have lunch on the beach, take plenty of pictures, and, ice permitting, paddle across the Fjord to Tiger Tail, a “small” spur glacier that forks off the more massive Tiger glacier. This is a day you will never forget!
DAY 6: Enjoy good coffee, eat breakfast, and spend the day exploring more of the area. Visit a kittiwake rookery where thousands of these seabirds raise their young in what appears to be a solid cliff face.
DAY 7: Enjoy a leisurely morning in the stunning scenery at Gaamaak Cove. Take group photos with beached blue ice bergs as a backdrop. Get gear packed up and get picked up by charter boat and brought back to Whittier. Enjoy an early dinner in Whittier before boarding a train to Anchorage. Get ready to fly home (or elsewhere) in the morning.
DAY 8: Enjoy a last breakfast as a group at the hotel before participants head their own way. This is the day that most participants leave Anchorage.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Prince William Sound is located at the northern edge of the Pacific rain forest—an area lush and green with vegetation. You will paddle through protected fiords and passages, exploring the bays, inlets and streams. Most campsites are packed gravel beaches.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel in sea kayaks that hold 1-2 people plus all necessary gear. An average day's travel will consist of 3-5 hours of paddling, depending on weather conditions. Previous wilderness experience and/or paddling experience is recommended. Though not technically difficult, this trip can be physically challenging. This trip is well suited for people with mobility impairments. You should be prepared for the possibility of a wind bound day. Travel distances vary from 8-10 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 45 F to 75 F. The climate is moderated by the Pacific Ocean. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a day or two of rain. This is, after all, a rain forest!
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 10 to 12 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however, most people pitch in where they can.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night you will sleep in a comfortable tent. Typically, there are 3 people per 4-person tent (although other arrangements can be made). We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
MEALS: The fun of camping includes cooking in the wilderness, a challenge with great rewards. With plenty of fresh air and exercise, hungers are at their peak and our meals are especially good. We pride ourselves on providing healthful ingredients for simple, plentiful dishes everyone will enjoy. Count on hearty breakfasts of pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit, trail lunches of cheeses and cured meats, plenty of snacks, and wonderful stir-fries, sautés, and pasta dishes, finished off with campfire s’mores and a glass of wine.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary kayaking and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Alaska’s Prince William Sound offers visitors an unsurpassed opportunity to experience the combined features of Alaska’s land and sea. The Sound, a vast expanse of islands, fiords and bays nestled off the coast of Alaska, lies southeast of Anchorage and east of the Kenai Peninsula. Kayakers can sit spellbound, the world’s only witnesses to orcas slicing still ocean waters. Towering blue-white glaciers slowly grind to the sea. The rugged lands and water of the Sound challenge both spirit and body.
On a sailing expedition in 1778, George Vancouver named the area after the future king of England, William IV. This explains why many of the landmarks bear British names, along with many Native names. Bligh Island, for example, was named after Lieutenant William Bligh before his fateful journey on the HMS Bounty.
Named after the native Alaskan Chugach culture, the Chugach Mountains and Chugach National Forest surround Prince William Sound to the west, north, and east. Chenega Island, off the coast, once boasted the Chugach village of Chenega. For over 400 years the village thrived, until the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake hit, killing over one-third of the villagers. The remaining Chugach people relocated to Evans Island in Chenega Bay where the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill unfortunately devastated their community once again. But to this day, villagers continue to inhabit Evans Island.
To the south of Prince William Sound, Montague and Hinchinbrook Islands buffer the wild temper of the Gulf of Alaska. These protected waters harbor the most diverse habitat of the entire northern Pacific Coast. Over two hundred species of birds inhabit the sky and coastline, while deer, mountain goats, and bears roam the land. Take to the sea and vistors find humpback and killer whales, sea lions, and seals, not to mention some of the most productive salmon runs in the world.
The Chugach National Forest, the nation’s most northerly National Forest, is a temperate rain forest in the Pacific temperate rain forest region. Here the forest occupies only a very narrow strip between the ocean and the icy alpine zone. The dominant trees include Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and mountain hemlock.
This stunning landscape stretches across south-central Alaska, from the salty waters and snowy peaks of Prince William Sound to the fabulous salmon and trout streams of the Kenai Peninsula, covering an area the size of New Hampshire. It is one of the few places left in the world where glaciers still grind valleys into the hard rock of the earth. Tidewater glaciers still spill out of fjords into Prince William Sound.
Its geographic diversity is unique among national forests. The three distinct landscapes of the Copper River Delta, the Eastern Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound are destinations for adventurers and nature enthusiasts the world over.
Prince William Sound provides excellent opportunities for backcountry adventure, solitude, and wildlife observation. The Sound has more tidewater glaciers than any other region in North America and is encompassed by the 5.4 million acre Chugach National Forest. Though Congress has not yet designated any Wilderness on the Chugach National Forest, 1.9 million acres of the western Sound is designated as the Nellie Juan College Fiord Wilderness Study Area to preserve its unique wilderness character.
Immense ice fields surround this inland waterway and give rise to magnificent tidewater glaciers that tumble into the sea. Icebergs and postglacial terrain are hallmarks of the landscape, offering a unique glimpse of geology and post-glacial reforestation in action.
The links below provide more great information about Prince William Sound. Click on them to learn more. Then come back to register for a great trip!
For more information, visit these links:
No Dates Scheduled
WI leads trips to this destination but currently has no dates scheduled. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us if you are interested in a group trip to this destination.