One of my favorite areas of Alaska is the Copper River Region. This area lies on the east side of the Chugach Mountain Range that surrounds Anchorage. This lesser visited area of Alaska is about a five hour drive from Anchorage. The Glenn Highway, an American Scenic Byway, passes through beautiful remote country with few populated areas. In preparation for the road trip, I make sure to put together a picnic for my traveling companions to enjoy on one of the various scenic turnouts overlooking the mountain glaciers along the highway. A great place to pick up delicious picnic supplies in Anchorage is the New Sagaya City Market in downtown Anchorage.
The Copper River Princess Lodge is a gracious and comfortable lodge conveniently located close to both Wrangell St Elias National Park and Valdez on the Prince William Sound. The Lodge is situated on a bluff overlooking the Copper River Valley that borders Wrangell-St Elias National Park. There are expansive views of the Copper River and the spectacular mountains of Wrangell St Elias from the lobby of the lodge. On my trips to the Copper River Valley I always make it a point to take time to sit out on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the grand views of the mountains in the park.
The Copper River Valley is home to a lot of early Alaska exploration history. Especially unique are the old mining towns of Kennicott and McCarthy located now deep within Wrangell St Elias National Park. When family or friends are visiting, I accompany them on a flightseeing trip over the Copper River Valley and through the mountains of Wrangell-St. Elias to Kennicott and McCarthy. The remoteness and terrain make the drive to McCarthy quite long and tedious and a great alternative is to fly with one of the local flight seeing companies from Chitina. Chitina lies on the banks of the Copper River and is one of the original over night stops along the early wagon trails from Valdez to Fairbanks. There is an old Alaskan Roadhouse in Chitina that has been thoughtfully restored and serves delicious meals. Chitina is an hour drive from the Copper River Princess Lodge. The road to Chitina passes through a beautiful remote valley where homesteaders have carved ranches out of the wilderness.
Another great day trip from the Copper River Princess Lodge is a visit to Prince William Sound. Valdez, located on the shores of Prince William Sound, is about a two hour drive from the lodge. A trip to the Columbia Glacier on Prince William Sound by boat from Valdez is another high light that I enjoy sharing with visiting friends and family. A light lunch is served on board the seven hour trip which also provides plenty of opportunities to see the wildlife of the sound including whales, sea otters and abundant bird life. The boat returns in plenty of time to drive back to the Copper River Lodge for cocktails and a sumptuous dinner before retiring for the evening.