Cook Inlet

Cook Inlet, Anchorage: Address, Cook Inlet Reviews: 5/5

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Carol Muller
Hinesburg, VT12 contributions
Cook Inlet goes from "Turnagain Arm" to the wide open Pacific. The "Arm" section goes inland but it's not really navigable; it's all mud flats. The Pacific side empties into the Pacific near Homer. No wonder Captain Cook thought that this body of water would take him across to the north Atlantic.
Written June 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kathleen
Joplin, MO515 contributions
Be sure to take advantage of all the pull outs to stop and view the beautiful views of mountains and inlet. Beluga Point is especially pretty. Also look for Dall sheep along the rocky cliffs. Take your time and enjoy - we did.
Written June 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Antiquetuck
Wasilla, AK353 contributions
Friends
I've lived in and around Cook Inlet, specifically the Upper Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm for nearly 50 years. I've been fishing on Cook Inlet waters many times, and clam digging, and shrimping, and 'crabbing.' I've dived in them and, as a member of the Anchorage Fire Department and particularly the dive rescue team, participated in rescues on them. They are treacherous and unforgiving if you don't respect them.

And have observed it during travel on the roads that cross and parallel it thousands of times. And have accompanied many relatives, friends and visitors on a train ride (see my review of the Alaska Railroad) along 'the Inlet,' as we reveled in the incredible beauty and mystique of it and the surrounding mountains. The Seward Highway parallels one side of the 'Arm' and lives up to its recognition as a 'scenic byway' - it won't disappoint; some years ago Volkswagen proclaimed it one of the top 10 roads to drive for a true 'driving experience.'

The mostly grey, silt-laden and oddly swirling waters are literally unbelievable to watch. You can dip your hand into them and it literally disappears before you get wrist-deep because they are so opaque. I've actually watched a complete airplane disappear under the surface...then roll over a few minutes later to reveal its presence again - that was during a rescue operation. Five hours later one of my co-workers walked across the silty gray Arm floor to the same plane without getting his ankles wet.

And they're cold - averaging less than 40f all year 'round. And the special features of them and the flowing waters, underwater features and sea life are more than impressive. Watching the water swirl, unlike most any other water in the world because of the heavy silt load is like watching an unending liquid mosaic pattern.

Imagine hiding schools of fish six- to eight inches long, just far enough below the surface so you can see the disturbance of their fins as the swim toward their spawning waters, and so thick that you can pick up an handful - or a net FULL with one dip.

And how about looking out and seeing a few, maybe even a dozen dorsal fins of the ivory-white Beluga whales breaking the surface as they follow schools of Sockeye, Chum and Coho salmon - their prey - on their way to their natal streams.

Or, at the tidal interface with numerous stream and rivers that flow into it, throwing out an attractor or bait and hooking into one of those salmon. Then savoring it for a 'sea-fresh' dinner.

Or hooking what feels like 'the bottom' of this treasure-trove of fish and eventually seeing a 'barn door' just below the surface as you reel in a Halibut the size of your car hood, weighing 100, 200 or even 300 pounds!

And if that doesn't impress you then this should. Picture looking out over a flat expanse of water and see a leviathan weighing 35 TONS leaping clear of the water! I've watched Blue whales breaching, spinning, twisting, slapping fins larger than the aforementioned Halibut on the surface, slapping a tail that was half as large as the average room in a house on the water sending up a spray for 20 feet. Or slipping back into the water without a trace - like an apparition.

And looking across the water that could be 30 miles from shore-to-shore in one direct
and clear-to-Hawaii in another.

And having three active volcano's in view at the same time. It's not unusual to see a 'plume' of steam emanating from the top of one or two of them.
And the Bore Tide, a phenomena unique to the Turnagain Arm and only a couple of other places in the entire world, flowing up 'the Arm' as the tide rolls in. The wall of water can be more than 3' high promoting hardy cold-water surfers to 'ride the tide' as it covers the gray, silty bottom.

And speaking of tide, 'the Inlet' features one of the highest tidal ranges in the world; second only to the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Thirty-five feet of water depth races in-and-out in six hours during diurnal neap and ebb tides. Imagine being at the dock in Anchorage looking eye-level at the pilothouse of a large ship - and coming back about six hours later and looking eye-level at the Plimsoll line.

Again, I've spent nearly 50 years appreciating all of Cook Inlet's majesty. There's more - but you'll have to come see it yourself. Y'all come on over...y'hear?
Written November 15, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

G C
Anchorage, AK1,012 contributions
Couples
As we say in the Great North, Anchorage is only a few minutes away from Alaska :)) Our largest city lies on the shoreline of Cook Inlet, and thus both visitors and residents have great opportunities to easily enjoy the grand vistas comprised of mountains, forest, glaciers, and water, plus the many outdoor recreational activities that can be readily accessed here (both within the city limits, as well as to the south along the Seward Highway).

Here's a (partial) list of things to do that are centered on Cook Inlet...

In Anchorage:
Stroll, bike, or xc ski on The Coastal Trail -- This marvelous (& paved) pathway follows the Inlet's shoreline from downtown south to Kincaid Park, and is super popular during all months of the year... there are multiple spots to access the CT, which allows you to decide on the distance/duration of your selected activity... some sections are mostly level & suitable for folks of all ages/abilities, while others involve steeper terrain that are favored by more active users. Even though its adjacent to our most populous city, you are likely to see wildlife along the Trail (especially in areas that are forested -- be sure to use abundant caution & give the critters a wide berth, to avoid negative encounters). As the CT is a "multi-use" pathway, please remember to leave some "passing space" for speedier users (i.e. don't have occupy the entire width of the paths & block joggers, bicyclists, etc.). Also, help clean the CT attractive by using the waste receptacles that are provided (we like to pick up trash that others leave behind as well).

*****************
Along the Seward Highway and Turnagain Arm (beyond the city, where Alaska "really" begins):

Hiking (& bicycling) -- There are wonderful public hiking paths within the Chugach State Park that are found above the highway past Potter Marsh (at the city's south boundary), which offer marvelous views of the Arm and surrounding mountains. There are several access points that enable users to choose a short or longer stroll...

Continuing further south, near Bird Creek, there is another paved trail that follows the shoreline towards the hamlet of Girdwood (note the very nice campground that's been recently renovated here too). This connects to our favorite stretch, which begins at Beluga Point (nice facilities here, plus cool sculptures of the namesake white marine mammals) -- you can access the former road that's now a broad walk/bikeway, which it situated above the highway (= the best views around) and has some sheltered spots to rest as well. (We like to go here in late spring, when the snowmelt enhances the multiple cascading streams that course down the adjacent cliffs, and the landscape is a lush green.) You can bike all the way into Girdwood & get some tasty snacks, drinks, meals, etc. before returning back to Beluga Pt (nice half-day activity).

Fishing -- Check out the bank fishing opp's for salmon at Bird Creek (July-August; good hip boots, or preferably chest waders, will be needed here, and be careful when traversing the slippery mud banks/stream bottom). During late April-May, the eulachon (smelt-like fish, locally referred to as "hooligans") return to upper Turnagain Arm & enter the 20 Mile River for spawning -- accompanied by large numbers of enthusiastic fishers, who harvest these tasty morsels via long handled dip nets (note: this fishery is open to Alaska resdents only).

Wildlife viewing & photography -- There are multiple pullouts to capture images of the marvelous Turnagain Arm scenery, along this very scenic portion of the Seward Highway (hang on to your hat, if you stop at the aptly-named Windy Point). And if you see a bunch of vehicle clustered at a spot, join them and you might be treated to sightings of Dall sheep or Beluga whales (just be sure to safely stop & park when doing so -- easy to get distracted and cause a traffic accident on this super busy road).

Delicious spring water: One of the Seward Highway pullouts offers access to a year-round underground spring that delivers tasty, ice cold H2O (at times, a pipe is installed into the rock to help fill your bottles)... you'll need to park along on the Arm, and use caution to reach the spring that's found on the other side of the highway (be careful of the speedy cars & trucks).

Strong winds and The Bore Tide -- The gusty breezes funneled down the Arm are harnessed by a (few) windsurfers, and large tidal changes can be accompanied by a "bore tide" that forms a tall wave that moves upstream (offering a ride to paddle boarders). Super cold water, dangerous mudflats (see below) = much safer to watch than to engage in... For very experienced participants only!

Important caution re Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm:
DON'T WALK ON THE EXPOSED MUDFLATS!!!
These are comprised of very fine glacial silt with many hidden watery areas that trap you and present a real danger of drowning, once the tide swiftly returns... This hazard is genuine (!) and don't be the one who foolishly ignore the warnings & requires a rescue (if you can be saved before the water rushes back in).
Written May 4, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

moofcdt
Anchorage, AK61 contributions
Couples
My husband and I have lived in Alaska since 1980 and we never tire of the breath-taking beauty of the landscape. We drive around Cook Inlet often. Most of the year, in addition to the mirror-like water and towering snow-capped mountains you can nearly always see Dall sheep on the mountainside to the left, headed south. In the summer you might see beluga whales that swim close to the highway as they feed. In Potter Marsh, at the top of the inlet you will see occasional moose and many seabirds - swans, terns, geese, ducks, gulls and bald eagles. We've even seen black bear. There are several hiking trails to enjoy. It takes about an hour to drive around the inlet, one-way. Along the way you might stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see assorted AK wildlife. Or you might turn off to Portage Glacier and see the brilliant blue icebergs floating on the water or visit the visitors center. We find the drive relaxing and the scenery ever-changing.
Written April 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MoMoMcKenzie
Dallas, TX326 contributions
Solo
You can access this area by the Tony Knowles trail which you can pick up almost anywhere along the lower area behind Simon's and Seafort's. It goes on forever and the views of across the gulf are fantastic! The mud flats are intriguing, beautiful in their own regard but dangerous. Please do not go out on the mud flats. It is very dangerous. Keep following the TKT and you will see Cook Inlet in all it's glory. On a sunny day it is almost magical but on a gloomy day, you can get pulled into the mystic. Caveats - I repeat do not go out on the mudflats, watch out for moose, dress for the weather but by all means, have fun!
Written February 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Maurene_K
Dover, NH9,469 contributions
Friends
Cook Inlet extends 180 miles from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage where it is split into the Turnagain Arm and the Knik Arm. It is visible from one’s approach to the city on the Seward Highway. Another vantage point is Resolution Park on L Street.

It was named for Captain James Cook, a British explorer, navigator, and cartographer in the British Royal Navy. He was searching for the Northwest Passage in 1778 when his ship sailed here.

We viewed Cook Inlet from the Seward Highway, Resolution Park, and en route to the train depot to board the McKinley Explorer to Denali.

The inlet is very scenic. The backdrop of the rugged mountains on the other side is striking. Mount Sustina, a/k/a The Sleeping Lady, lends something almost haunting to the skyline.

We rate Cook Inlet at 5.0.

We recommend taking in this attraction from somewhere in Anchorage.

If you found this review helpful, please click THANK below.
Written September 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lynne H
anchorage42 contributions
Family
love looking for the beluga down at Beluga Point. We get lucky now and then, and spot 90 to 100 of them!
Written February 13, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

jennascloset
Athens, GA50 contributions
Family
If there was ever a doubt that there is a God, when you stop at Cook Inlet and take in the 360 beauty you will doubt no more. Just a gorgeous feast for the senses.
Written September 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Marc W
Sterling, AK609 contributions
Couples
When ranking amazing drives the drive from Anchorage south along the Sterling highway leaves a passenger breathless....and the driver envious that others can catch all the glorious views
Ranks up there with Blue Ridge Parkway and the California Coast highway!
Written August 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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