May 26, 2015

The Tram at Alyeska Resort

Living in Alaska sometimes means you get so busy living that you forget that you live in Alaska. Tourist pay thousands of dollars to come and enjoy this place we call home... Why should we let them have all the fun? So recently we headed to Girdwood to enjoy the Alyeska Tram.

The tram ascends 2,000 feet up the mountain to the Upper Tram Terminal, which is also home to the Bore Tide Deli and the Seven Glaciers restaurant. The tram can move at 26 miles per hour, making the trip in 4 minutes. In the summer, they slow it down to a 7 minute ride to give you time to enjoy the view. In the winter, the tram is part of a network of ski lifts to move skiers up the mountain.
The Alyeska Tramway, designed by Von Roll Tramways, Inc. of Switzerland, has a regenerative drive system. AC power is converted to DC, allowing the tram to operate at varied speeds – slow for scenic rides and fast for powder days.
The tram operates two cars on a counterweight system -- as one car goes up the other car comes down.

 The views are amazing. Below you can see the Girdwood Valley and the Turnagain Arm. To reach Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort, you take the scenic Seward Highway south from Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm. Girdwood is a funky ski resort town with some great restaurants.

With the valley below,the views above are all about the mountains, snow and glaciers. You can see several glaciers from the Upper Tram Terminal.

You can do the tram on it's own. It's also how you access the fine dining Seven Glaciers restaurant. The Roundhouse Museum is part gift shop and part museum with some displays explaining the history of skiing in the area. You can also purchase a ticket that includes a dining credit for lunch at the Bore Tide Deli.

Our group ordered an assortment of soups, sandwiches, fries and chicken strips. All of it was pretty good. But the real star attraction is the view from up top.

Even though we've been having summer weather down below, it's still winter up on the mountain. It'll be another month or more before the snow completely melts away.

Some years there is still skiing on the upper mountain into May and early June. This year we had a mild winter and Alyeska struggled to have enough snow to stay open.

 The tram runs every fifteen minutes or so into the evening. (Check the schedule for exact times...) So after eating you can explore as much as you like. Just pay attention to any signage marking a closed area.

The Alyeska Resort is one of Alaska's nicest hotel complexes. In the winter its a skiing hotspot. In the summer there's plenty of hiking that can be done on the trails in the adjacent Chugach National Forest.

On the way back down we managed to spot a black bear sow and her cub on the hillside below. Seeing wildlife is not guaranteed, but it does happen.

Your tram ticket is good all day. So after some other sight seeing we went up again. No bears were sighted this time, but it was still worth doing a second time.

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