Location / Coordinates: Girdwood is nestled in the Chugach Mountains with the Chugach State Park to the west, Turnagain Arm to the south and Twentymile Glacier to the east. Girdwood is located east of Anchorageabout 35 miles on the Seward Highway (Alaska Highway 1) at the junction with Alyeska Highway.
Coordinates: Latitude 60.94 & Longitude 149.17.
Population / Elevation: Girdwood has an active community of about 2,000 year-‘round. Currently, Girdwood is located up the mountain, two miles inland from Turnagain Arm at an elevation of about 150 feet at the airstrip. Girdwood originally was located at sea level, next to Turnagain Arm. The earthquake of 1964 sunk most of the original Girdwood townsite into the sea.
Description: Girdwood is a beautiful resort getaway both during the summer season and the winter season. One of Alaska’s nicest ski resorts is located here, along with all of the amenities expected of a classic resort village. Surrounded by towering, snow-capped mountains to the north, and vast views of the Turnagain Arm to the south, Girdwood is a favorite destination for both Alaskans and visitors from the “outside.” In the summer season, Girdwood is carpeted with emerald green spruce trees and shrubs highlighted with white waterfalls tumbling down the mountainsides. Sapphire-blue skies are her crowning glory. During the winter season, Girdwood is blanketed with snow and often boasts clear blue skies for even its shortest days.
What to do there: Girdwood offers everything for the outdoor enthusiast: trails to the top of majestic mountains for mountain biking, skiing, and hiking with dogs. The old Iditarod Trail comes through Girdwood. In the late summer months, stop along the way to pick wild blueberries. Don’t forget your camera, the views up here are spectacular! Once on top paraglide piggyback style back down and soar through the valley. For a quick trip up the mountain, ride the tram at Alyeska Resort, have lunch on top and then come back to Girdwood and enjoy the many flowers displayed in hanging baskets around town.
For the more adventurous, take a helicopter from Girdwood up to the glacier and go dogsledding with an Iditarod veteran. Or hike the Aleyska Glacier, or jet boat up the Twenty Mile River.
Summer season in Girdwood is carefree and relaxing. The Girdwood Marketplace hosts live music and local artisans every Sunday. Mark the calendar for the annual Girdwood Forest Fair, a very popular weekend event and showcase for crafts, food, and entertainment. The second Saturday of August is the Alyeska Blueberry and Mountain Arts Festival celebrating the blueberry harvest with food, music and a Classic Alyeska Mountain Run.
Winter in Girdwood is a cozy cabin or a nicely appointed room at the Alyeska Resort, sipping hot cocoa and enjoying the view outside. Finish the hot cocoa, bundle up and head outside. The slopes are open and ready for skiing, snow boarding, and snowshoeing.
History: Like most towns in Alaska, Girdwood started out as a gold mining claim. Its namesake is Colonel James Girdwood, an early miner who set up shop here in the early 1900s.
How to get there: Drive east on the Seward Highway (Alaska 1) about 35 miles from Anchorage. Girdwood has a 2,100 foot gravel airstrip .
Facilities: There are as many places to stay in Girdwood as there are budgets, from campgrounds to Bed &Breakfasts to the resort hotel at Alyeska. The same is true for eating out in Girdwood. The Bake Shop is a favorite for breakfasts of sourdough pancakes or lunches of hearty homemade soups with a chunk of sourdough bread. For something a bit more formal, there is the Chair Five Restaurant or the Alyeska Hotel.
Need a shower? Clean clothes? A nicer smelling pet? The Girdwood Laundry, Showers & Pet Wash can handle it all. Do it yourself, or drop it off to be done for you. It even has an internet café.
RV info: Crow Creek Mine is the only RV park in Girdwood. RVs may park overnight in the Alyeska Resort Day Lodge parking area.