YES! You can touch an iceberg not far from Anchorage!
All of our adventures in Alaska have been wonderful and much better than I could have imagined. This particular activity came about in less than 24 hours. I heard about it while having dinner with my cousin who lives in Anchorage. She had just gone on a tour a few weeks earlier at the same place and thought it would be something we’d enjoy. So, I stayed up half the night trying to figure out time in our schedule to squeeze it in and the next day was the only opening. I was on the phone early the next morning with the tour operator, Chugach Adventures, and we were booked for the afternoon. Tah-dah!!!
To my surprise, the tour included a train ride!!!!! YAY!!!!! When I originally planned my trip, riding the Alaska Railroad was 2nd in my Top 3 list of must-do’s. As time grew closer it seemed I wasn’t going to be able to ride the train at all. Ultimately, the skies parted and God said, “Make it so!” I was going on a train ride! Thank you!
The tour we ended up taking was the Spencer Iceberg Float Tour, which costs about $192/pp including your train ticket. Our train boarded at 1:15 pm in Portage. The train stop in Portage is actually a small building right off Seward Highway at milepost 80.3. It’s a short 30 min or so drive from Anchorage and the scenic views make the trip really enjoyable.
When we arrived, check-in was a breeze. We were given rubber boots and a quick rundown of the day ahead. I was surprised at the number of people pulling into the parking lot for the tours. We were the first ones there, but very quickly the gravel parking lot filled with lots of anxious people ready to touch an iceberg.
The guides gave us a safety briefing and then stuffed us into our life jackets. Now, for some reason I thought our tour involved touching an iceberg and floating around the lake. I missed the part where we were going down Placer River with some rapids. Ummmmmmmmm, huh??? I found that out when we were getting instructions on bouncing the raft in case we get stuck. Huh??? Wait, what??? Crapola!!! Is there another way out??? Well, it looks like I’m going to be rafting for real!
We climb into the rafts and our guide was amazing! She told us all kinds of good stuff about the glacier and steered a raft full like a champ. I feel bad that I didn’t catch her name, but she made sure to take a selfie with my phone. Lol!!!
After touching the bergs it was time to go down river. I was a bit scared at first, but it ended up not being so bad. It was a great scenic ride and now I can officially say that I went “river rafting”.
We did get to see a bear off in the distance, but not much other wildlife. That was ok, since we were planning to stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center the next day anyway. I was perfectly happy enjoying the river and the mountain views.
At the end of the rafting trip you exit out at a ladder on the riverside and goes right up to the railroad tracks. The guides pull the rafts up next to the track and we wait for the train to pull up. How cool is it to be out in the middle of nature with nothing but railroad tracks??? Pretty cool I’d say.
We boarded the train, ate our snacks and headed back to Portage all by 5:00pm. It was as perfect of a day as anyone could ask for in Alaska. The experience was nothing short of amazing! Chugach Adventures and their tour guides were polite, efficient, super friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. That combined with the Alaskan outdoors made this adventure a memorable one.