A branch of the Cook Inlet just south of Anchorage, the Turnagain Arm is known for its high tides, incredible marine life spotting opportunities, and unparalleled access to outdoor recreation. A 50-mile (80-kilometer stretch of the Seward Highway hugs the Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Portage Glacier and is one of the top scenic drives in Alaska.
The Turnagain Arm Drive is filled with scenic viewpoints of the Cook Inlet and Chugach Mountains and many top Alaska attractions such as Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort, Beluga Point, Portage Glacier, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Opt for a guided tour of the area’s top sights or a hop-on hop-off tour to explore at your leisure.
Things to know before you go
- The Turnagain Arm Drive is a must for first-time visitors to Alaska.
- Look for beluga whales rolling in the waves at Beluga Point.
- Don’t miss the views of the Turnagain Arm from the Alyeska Aerial Tram.
- Animal lovers will enjoy a visit with the orphaned and injured animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
- Bring plenty of layers and don’t forget the mosquito spray in summer.
How to get there
The Turnagain Arm is located just south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway. Beluga Point is just 18 miles (24 kilometers) from downtown Anchorage and the turnoff to Girdwood is just 20 minutes beyond the point. The paved bike trail from Girdwood is another great way to explore the Turnagain Arm.
When to get there
Active marine life, fantastic fishing, and abundant wildflowers makes summer the ideal season for exploring the Turnagain Arm. Traffic does get heavy on the Seward Highway during the summer months, so start your day early to avoid getting stuck behind a line of RVs and motorists pulling boats. February and March are the two best months to ski at Alyeska Resort. Several winter sightseeing tours feature the ice waterfalls along the Turnagain Arm.
The Turnagain Arm Bore Tide
A tidal bore is a rare natural phenomenon where seawater gushes into a narrow inlet from a broad bay, and the Turnagain Arm bore wave is one of the largest and most dramatic in the world. It can take hours for a wave to sweep from the mouth of the inlet to the far end. Bird Point, Beluga Point, and Indian Point are great places to watch the tide come in and predicted arrival times are posted online. it’s a good idea to arrive 30 minutes before the tide is expected to hit.