Three Rules for Enjoying Seward Windsong in Alaska
Off the Alaskan coast, nestled between a national forest and a national park, is a series of buildings set alongside Alaska’s Resurrection River. Outside, there’s hiking, fishing, and some of the most sought-after vistas in the entire state. Inside, there’s warmth, a fireplace, craft beer, free wifi, and free movies.
Most of all, there’s seclusion, peace, and the beauty of Alaska’s wilderness.
The problem is, space in Seward Windsong Lodge fills up fast. If you want to experience it, you’d best start planning now.
Seward Windsong Lodge is a huge, sprawling collection of buildings near the mouth of the Resurrection River, a total 17 buildings, 180 luxury rooms, a restaurant and brewery, and a main hall. It’s a short drive away from Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield, Chugach National Forest, the city of Seward, and Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve. There’s more than enough to do here to satisfy anyone’s thirst for beauty, danger, game, or solitude, with plenty of options to rest up in the evenings.
Naturally, we recommend that you go. But if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’d best prepare as much as you can.
1. Plan Way Ahead – Way Ahead
Seward Windsong is booked early and often. If you want to plan a trip, the earlier you book your room, the better.
You’ll have three kinds of room to choose from – standard, deluxe, and suite. Each room comes with free wifi and movies, so if you’re simply looking to wind down and sleep in the evenings after a day of exploring, any room will do. Deluxe rooms come with a private deck, and suites come with extra beds, a Jacuzzi, and a table for evening card games or morning coffee.
Several rooms look right out on Resurrection River. If you’re calling Seward Windsong to book a reservation, ask for these first.
However, if you’re booking far in advance, we recommend trying it online first. The lodge offers certain deals and discounts all its own, but you’re likely to get the best price by reserving rooms through any one of the three major online travel centers – KAYAK, Trivago, or Hotels.com. Try all three at once, and see which one gives you the biggest discount.
As we said, though, rooms fill up fast. Most of our early attempts to book dates, and compare prices, were unsuccessful, simply because every room was full for months. Early planning is successful planning.
Even if you end up calling Seward Windsong and asking for the next available dates, remember – kids are free, so long as they’re in the same room as parents, and don’t require extra beds. This is an ideal family vacation.
2. Make a List of What You Want to Do
Seward Windsong Lodge is a short drive away from a national forest, a national park, an icefield with forest ranger tours, and a city with plenty of parks, museums, and restaurants all its own. Your struggle won’t be in finding things to do, but in picking which things you want to do.
To that end, we’ve assembled a short guide. Pick your category, and narrow your choices.
Things to Do, and Where to Do Them
There are trails everywhere you might want to go, and all with varying degrees of difficulty and danger. The easiest and safest are next to Exit Glacier, a popular tourist site that offers guided hikes through the icefield, led and narrated by members of the forest service. These hikes are, by and large, highly recommended by all who visit, not least because they’re suitable for young and old alike. Grandparents in their 60s continue to conquer these trails. If you’re looking for good views, education, but don’t want to be exhausted, this is the place to go.
Exit Glacier is also one of the few hiking areas with wheelchair-accessible trails.
The most dangerous trails are conveniently located right alongside the lodge itself. Resurrection River is both breathtaking, and occasionally treacherous. Swift waters, fallen trees, and hidden ice are all par for the course here. While it’s not forbidden to explore, the forest service does post warnings about the state of the trail, and you should check their warnings before you go.
As a rule, never hike alone. This is basic hiking safety. Remember, too, that hiking anywhere in Alaska runs a remote chance of a bear encounter. They would much rather avoid humans, and will steer clear of you so long as you’re making enough noise. It’s one other reason to hike with a buddy – conversation alerts the bears, and they’ll avoid your presence.
The prime destination for hiking is north of the lodge. Chugach National Forest is quiet, secluded, and almost deserted, with few roads and fewer buildings. Hiking and camping are welcome here, but you’ll need to bring in, and take back with you, all your supplies. Much of the lure of this place is just how isolated it is, and once in, you won’t have a chance to refuel.
If you’re simply interested in making the drive, it’s one of the more scenic routes in all of lower Alaska.
If you want a simple hike near civilization, the city of Seward has trails that lead up Mount Marathon. This might be the only way to end a day’s hike with a cold beer.
Before you wonder about getting there, however, remember this: Seward Windsong offers over 15 shuttles a day, and more if requested, to all major tourist destinations. You won’t have to worry about the drive.
If you’re angling, there’s always Resurrection River right next door. Your best shot, however, is the city of Seward, where you can charter any number of boats to deep sea fish or float the river. Alaskan salmon are plentiful here, and if you come during the summer months, a catch is almost inevitable.
Your city is also the chance to see seals, otters, sea lions, and puffins at the Alaska Sealife Center, a combination aquarium and rehabilitation center with daily tours and talks. If you have small children, this is a stop you can’t miss.
Both Exit Glacier and the Chugach National Forest have streams and rivers aplenty, but if you’re looking for solitude, there’s no better place than Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve. It’s one of only a few of Alaska national parks that’s accessible by car, and contains over 1,000 square miles of wilderness, forest, and stream within it. This is an angler’s paradise. Seward will have fishing supplies and places to buy a license if you haven’t got one.
Boating, floating, or kayaking
Paddling down Resurrection River in Kenai Fjords is one of the reasons many visitors frequent the park in the first place. The city of Seward will have rafts, boats, and kayaks for rent, as well as boat tours of the waterways nearby. While the same is true for Exit Glacier, you might also consider a day cruise, combining luxury and lecture from a member of the forest service. Take note, too, that the best tours are generally led by forest service members, so if you’re saving your money for just a few, these are the ones on which to splurge. These are generally the same rangers that lead walking tours of Exit, and of the Harding Icefield. They know the history and local ecology well, and you’re likely to see marmots, owls, warblers, sparrows, and possibly deer.
You always have the option of paddling by yourself, but you may have to get a license to be on the water. These can be obtained easily, and aren’t issued for profit, but so local authorities can know how many people are on the water at one time. If you’re interested in going off on your own, check ahead of time to see if you need to fill out some early paperwork.
There’s plenty more to do in nearby Seward – the city has several restaurants, brew houses, museums, and at least one option for sled dog tours. Also available are day tours of Bear Lake, where you can witness Alaskan authorities manage the salmon population. With all the options available, however, it’s easy to forget the most important thing: doing nothing.
It is a vacation, after all.
3. Remember to do Nothing
Perhaps the best aspect of Seward Windsong is its feeling of seclusion. There are no city sounds, no humming appliances, and only the white noise of Resurrection River in the background for company. You might feel like you need to fill your hours with activities, but sitting in quiet, reading, listening to the river, or simply doing nothing may constitute the best few hours of your trip.
If you’ve booked a deluxe, you can’t go wrong with a few hours on your personal deck. The lodge itself, however, has places aplenty for sitting and enjoying the fire, talking, or simply relaxing. Resurrection Roadhouse, the lodge’s restaurant, has plenty of craft beer on tap, and is ideal for ending a day full of activity, or none at all.
It’s your choice – you’re the one on vacation.