|Go To See Alaska - Part 6 -
Wrangell Mountains and More Scenic Highways
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Spectacular snow clad mountains in Wrangell-St Elias National Park in southeast Alaska
登高望遠，山勢高聳，拔地而起， 雲來山更佳， 雲去山如畫，山因雲
晦明， 雲共山高下， 雪山峰峰相連，北美16座最高峰有9峰巍然聳立
Wrangell-St Elias National Park in southeast Alaska is the largest national park in USA, six times the
size of Yellowstone National Park. It is home to the highest concentration of peaks over 16,000 feet in
North America, 9 of North America’s 16 tallest peaks are in this national park. Mount St. Elias in here is
second tallest in the United States at 18,008 feet; and Mount Wrangell is tallest active volcano in the
United States at 14,163 feet. This national Park is known as "America’s Mountain Kingdom" and as
Himalayas of North America. In addition to many tall mountains and huge glaciers, there are also
abundance of wildlife in here. Wrangell Mountains are named for Baron Wrangell who was Russian
governor of Alaska from 1830 to 1835.
As the most remote and least developed of Alaska’s national parks, the only two roads into this
national park are unpaved gravel roads that are very rough. They are not suitable for regular sedan
cars with low clearance to go in. But the spectacular high mountains in this national park are visible
from the paved highways along the boundaries of this huge national Park. Therefore, in the afternoon
of August 18, 2009, we drove on paved Highway 1 (i.e., Glenn Highway and Toc Cut Off Road) along
the northern boundary, on paved Richardson Highway along the western boundary, and on paved
Edgerton Highway (i.e., Highway 10) to enjoy the gorgeous views of these snow clad mountains.
There are several pullout parking areas along these paved highways for tourists to enjoy the fantastic
views and to take beautiful pictures.
In the evening of August 18, we stayed in Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge in Copper Center
near Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This very nice hotel is perched on the top of a hill with a
fantastic view of the Wrangell mountains.
There is a tour bus ( Phone number: 907-822-5978) with a knowledgeable driver/guide at Chitina to
take tourists into this national park from west entrance along the unpaved McCarthy Road to enjoy
many stops along the way for sight-seeing and picture-taking. However, our one-week tour schedule
did not have enough time for us to take this bus tour.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Wrangell-St Elias National Park
Lion Head Rock along Glenn Highway. It was once an ancient volcano. It showcases the beauty and power of
the geological forces that helped shaped the magnificence of the Glenn Highway corridor.
Beautiful fireweed and flowers along Glenn Highway and other highways all over Alaska.
Copper River originates in the Copper Glacier among Wrangell Mountains, flows along the northern and
western boundaries of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It is also a braided river.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing Copper River along northern and western boundaries of
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
We heard that in the summer season, the Copper River is full of salmon. There are also many Fish Wheels in
the Copper River to catch many salmon automatically. Fish wheels consist of two large baskets that turn on an
axle. They are rotated by the river current and scoop up passing fish as they turn. Captured fish slide down a
chute into a holding box that is emptied several times a day.
On the Glenn Highway (i.e., Hwy 1) from Slana to Chistochina, one may see these fish wheels operating in the
Copper River. However, my schedule of one-week driving tour did not have time for me to go down to the
Copper River to get a close up view of the operation of such fish wheels. I also did not know where was the
back road or hiking trail to go from the paved highway down to the river. On the other hand, a video is available
at the following YouTube website:
to show how the fish wheel uses the power of water flow in the river to catch many salmon automatically.
Fish wheel was in use in the Columbia River drainage by 1879. Gold stampeders brought the technology to
Alaska in the late 1800's where it quickly caught on along Interior river systems.
In May, there are concentration of millions and millions of migratory shorebirds at Copper River Delta where
Copper River flows into the Gulf of Alaska as shown at the following website:
In the morning of August 19, we drove west from the east end of the paved breathtaking Glenn
Highway (i.e., Highway 1), the National Scenic Byway, near Wrangell St. Elias National Park to
Anchorage, then we drove south on the paved scenic Seward Highway to Seward. The scenery on
these two highways are fantastic as shown in the following photos.
We saw another female moose on the roadside when we were driving on the Glenn Highway
Mountains and more mountains, tourists are treated to vistas of forested slopes, snowy peaks, glacier-filled
Our rental car on Glenn Highway. It was a Subaru Forester with All-Wheel Drive. When I made the rental car
reservation, I specifically asked for an All-Wheel Drive vehicle which is appropriate and important for driving
tour in Alaska.
We stopped here, opened the tailgate to make sandwiches for our lunch. The scenery along Glenn Highway
was so beautiful that we did not want to waste any time to go to a restaurant for lunch. (After the daytime
sightseeing activities are finished, we do go to nice restaurants to enjoy nice dinner.)
Zoom in for a close up view of terminus of Metanuska Glacier
Chugach Mountains along Glenn Highway
Mountain peak with special cloud along the paved scenic Seward Highway (i.e., Highway 9). After we finished
driving west on Glenn Highway and arrived at Anchorage, we turned south on Seward Highway to drive to
Seward on August 19.
Potter Marsh along Seward Highway at milepost 117.4 is one of Alaska's best birdwatching spots. There is a
large parking lot with toilet facility. It also has a long (1500-ft) boardwalk that extends out into Potter Marsh for
tourists to enjoy watching many kinds of birds and wildlife in action and spawning salmon swimming in the creek
as shown in the following photos. Thousands of migrating birds rest here including trumpeter swans, rednecked
grebes, golden eyes, and pintails, bald eagles soar over the marsh in search of prey, sometimes harried by
terns and gulls.
We saw a juvenile bald eagle eating salmon near the creek in Potter Marsh.
The feather on the head and the tail of bald eagle do not turn into white color until it reaches the mature age
of 5 years or more.
We also saw many shore birds and waterfowl in Potter Marsh.
Seward Highway hugs the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, one of the most
beautiful stretches of highway in America. Chugach State Park's 3000-foot mountains jut up on your
left. On the right, the sprawling, sometimes four-mile-wide flats of Turnagain Arm seem to stretch like
a plain to the opposite shores of Cook Inlet, where mammoth sloping mountains abruptly stop their
flat expanse. Each turn reveals another scenic wonder.
慢舞或逆流飛動，神采飛揚， 卵石游魚清晰可數， 蔚為奇觀！。
Spawning red (sockeye) salmon (紅鮭魚) and other kinds of salmon in crystal clear waters of Portage
Creek as viewed from the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform as we drove from Whitter through Portage
Highway to connect into Sward Highway on August 15, 2009. This viewing site is located at mile 4 of
the Portage Highway near the Begich Boggs Visitor Center. Maps showing location of Williwaw Fish
Viewing Platform can be seen at the following websites:
Bore Tide at Turnagain Arm:
Similar to Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, QianTang Jiang (錢塘江) in southeast China and several other
special bays, Turnagain Arm in Alaska has two special phenomena of (1) powerful and long Bore Tide and (2)
very large tidal differential (in the order of 50 feet) between high tide and low tide. The photos of spectacular,
powerful and dangerous bore tide at QianTang Jiang with HangZhou Bay can be seen at the following website:
Two video clips showing the power of such dangerous bore tide (錢塘潮) at QianTang Jiang in China can be
seen at the following YouTube websites:
The long bore tide roaring along the wide HangZhou Bay in the second video clip is often referred to as a silver
The day-to-day bore tide at these Arm and bays are mild and are not as powerful and dangerous as shown in
the two websites listed above. Those powerful and dangerous bore tides occur only under suitable dates,
times and conditions. For example, the chances for seeing a large bore tide at Turnagain Arm are best during
the five-day window that surrounds the new moon or full moon when the additional effects of the sun are also
included. Also, tides tend to be greatest annually at the equinoxes (March and September). Furthermore,
strong opposing winds can also enhance the strength of the bore tide.
The main reason for such exceptional large tide differential and such powerful bore tide is due to the
resonance between the gravitational-tidal pull of the moon and the natural sloshing frequency of ocean water in
these special bays and arms. Every basin of water has a natural resonance frequency, that is, a natural
vibration associated with the time it takes the water to slosh back and forth from one end of the basin to the
other. The geometry and the length of these bays and arms are such that it takes about 12 hours and 25
minutes for the tidal wave to go from the bay mouth all the way into the bay throat and to come all the way
back out In other words, the natural sloshing frequency of ocean water in these special bays is about 12 hours
and 25 minutes per cycle which is the same as the cycle of the gravitational-tidal pull from the moon on the
ocean water as the earth rotates. It is not exactly 12 hours because the moon is moving and is orbiting around
the earth. The synchronization of the diurnal variation of gravitational tidal force from the moon with the natural
oscillation frequency of these special bays results in a powerful resonance that greatly amplifies the magnitude
of the tidal differential in these special bays.
Movie clips of Bore Tide on Turnagain Arm can be seen on YouTube at:
Pile Up Effect:
Both the width and the depth of these bays decrease from the mouth of bay towards the throat of bay. With
the powerful driving force from the tidal resonance, water literally "piles up" as it is being driven from the large
and deep mouth of the bay towards the narrow and shallow throat of the bay. Such pile-up effect forces the
rapidly rising tide waters to form a tidal flood with a raised abrupt front wall known as the bore tide.
Wildlife and Bore Tide:
The bore tide at Turnagain Arm has additional wildlife features to make it even more interesting. The wall of
bore tide often has many jumping fish -- salmon and hooligan which attract eagles - a whirling mass of eagles
and ravens flying along like a tornado as the bore tide roared in. Harbor seals often also ride the bore tide into
Turnagain Arm, half hour later when the water gets deeper, the white Beluga whales come in chasing many
salmon as shown in the following YouTube movie clip:
then sometime killer whales (Orca) come in chasing the white Beluga whales. There are several pull-off
parking areas along the Seward Highway around Turnagain Arm for visitors to see such special wildlife actions
associated with the bore tide in this area. Some parking areas are also equipped with public high-power
telescope to help visitors to enjoy close up views of such spectacle.
Chugach mountains and Glaciers near Turnagain Arm as our car going along Seward Highway.
Zoom in for a close up view of a loon cruising smoothly on the quite and peaceful lake.
The sequence of our 2-week Tour of Alaska is the Following:
One-week Alaska Cruise:
Vancouver in Canada, the starting point of 1-week Alaska Cruise --------> Ketchikan in Alaska (Misty Fjords
National Monument) --------> Juneau (Mendenhall Glacier, Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, Gold Creek Salmon
Bake) ---------> Skagway (8-hour Excursion Land Tour into Yukon Territory in northwest Canada) -------->
Glacier Bay National Park --------> College Fjords --------> Whittier, the end point of our Alaska Cruise.
One-week driving tour of Alaska starts from Whittier as follows:
Whittier --------> Denali National Park --------> Fairbanks (Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge,
Georgeson Botanical Garden, Large Animal Research Station of the University of Alaska) ---------> Town of
North Pole --------> Scenic Richardson Highway going south --------> Boundary of Wrangell-St Elias National
Park ---------> Scenic Glen Highway going west ---------> Scenic Seward Highway going south -------->
Seward, (Kenai Fjords National Park, Exit Glacier) --------> Seward Highway going north to Tern Lake, then
Sterling Highway going west to Kenai, then south ---------> Homer --------> Sterling Highway going north to
Kenai, then east, to Tern Lake, then Seward Highway going north ---------> Alaska Wildlife Conservation
Center --------> Anchorage, the end point of our driving tour of Alaska
After enjoying the beautiful sunset view of Kenai Lake shown above, we arrived at Seward in the evening of
August 19, 2009 after seeing many majestic mountains shown above. The following morning, we got on a tour
ship from Seward Harbor to tour the exciting Kenai Fjord National Park for a lot of close encounters with
abundance of sea wildlife and for beautiful scenery as reported in Part 7 of 11 at:
Quiet, peaceful and beautiful lakes along Seward Highway surrounded by high mountains.
As a bird watcher, I would love to go to see such concentration of millions of shorebirds. But our Alaska tour
being in August is not the right time to go to see those migratory shorebirds in Copper River Delta.
Part of the long boardwalk in Potter Marsh for visitors to view many kinds of birds and wildlife in action and
salmon swimming in the creek and pond.
Due to the large tidal differential, very large areas of ocean floor of such special bays are exposed as huge
mud flats during low tide as shown above when we were driving from Homer back to Anchorage on August 22,
2009. There are plenty of warning around Turnagain Arm as:
WARNING: Don’t walk out onto the mud flats—people have died by getting stuck in the glacial silt and being
drowned by the incoming tide!
However, when I was driving along the Turnagain Arm, it was not during those special dates and special times
such that I was not lucky enough to see such interesting bore tide in Turnagain Arm.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Turnagain Arm
水淺流急， 河水清澈透明，魚游水中，歷歷可見，百鮭爭流， 河床
傳宗接代，急流比肩， 雙雙對對， 甜甜蜜蜜的鮭魚， 生命慶典，神