Explore this protected island-dotted sound, where the waters and coastline host an incredible range of wildlife including whales, bears and otters.
The pristine Prince William Sound is a spectacular wilderness area that encompasses fjords, glaciers and numerous islands. Cruise out into the remote waters to marvel at the striking scenery and try a range of adventure activities, from fishing and wildlife watching to backcountry skiing.
The sound was christened by 18th-century British explorer Captain George Vancouver, who named it after King George III’s third son. The area is beautiful now, but suffered through several disasters, most notably the 1964 earthquake and a 1989 oil spill, which wreaked havoc on the sound’s delicate ecosystem.
Use one of three surrounding towns as a base for exploring. Stay in Valdez and join adventure expeditions with local operators. Go stand-up paddleboarding near blue-tinged icebergs in summer or ski around the Chugach Mountains in winter.
View several glaciers near Valdez by helicopter, boat or hiking. Listen for the impressive rumble of chunks of ice breaking off. Among the most notable are Meares Glacier, one of only a few advancing tidewater glaciers on the continent, and Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Prince William Sound.
The former fishing town of Cordova is another popular base. Go rafting or fishing on the Eyak River and follow the Eyak River Trail along the water’s edge. Glacier viewing and bird watching are big draws, while the early 20th-century Miles Glacier Bridge, known as the Million Dollar Bridge because of how much it cost to build, also draws sightseers.
The third major town is the mountain-surrounded port of Whittier, built to serve as a base for the military during World War II. Try hiking, kayaking or scuba diving on the sound or join boat cruises from the harbor.
Visit Prince William Sound in summer for the mildest weather, the most sunshine and the best whale watching. For fans of heli-skiing, winter is best. To get here, fly from Anchorage to Cordova or Valdez or ride the train from Anchorage to Whittier. Ferries run between the three main towns.