Turnagain Arm Drive

The Seward Highway -just south of Anchorage- hugs the unique shorelines of Turnagain Arm Drive, one of the most impressive stretches of America’s highway. This drive’s flats stretch like a plain to the Cook Inlet’s opposite shores, where mammoth sloping mountains stop their flat expanse. Each turn on this unique drive reveals a scenic wonder.

Turnagain Arm Drive is the perfect spot for wildlife watching, hiking, and nature photography, all just south of Anchorage. This drive got its name from James Cook, a British explorer who was forced to “turn again” when the waterway didn’t hold the Northwest fabled Passage during his voyage in 1778. There was no path through the continent, but there were a lot of reasons to go down the arm. The Seward Highway is its destination, designated as an Alaska Scenic Byway, an All-American Road, and a USDA Forest Service Scenic Byway. Windy Corner, Bird Point, or Beluga Point are the perfect places to view the Kenai and Chugach mountains and spot Dall sheep and beluga whales.

The bore tide, a water wave that rushes down the Turnagain Arm and can top six feet tall, is unforgettable. Formed by the area’s huge tidal range and focused in the limited Turnagain Arm’s channel, the bore tide tops a speed of 20 mph and even draws some adventurous local surfers.

Locating on the highway also means many access points into the mountains for hiking. A laundry list of trailheads – Rainbow, Bird, and McHugh Creek are among the favorites – all branch off from day-use parking along the scenic road. From streamside walks to challenging ascents, the terrain is always enjoyable.