Girdwood is situated in southcentral Alaska, just a 45-minute drive from Anchorage. The town of Girdwood, which has a permanent population of about 2,000 friendly souls, lies in a small valley in the Chugach mountains near the end of Turnagain Arm, part of the Cook Inlet. Map >>
Girdwood, originally named Glacier City, is surrounded by no less than seven permanent glaciers. There is an abundance of outdoor activities in summer and winter. And Girdwood's temperate weather allows for these activities year-round. Visitors and residents alike enjoy hiking, rafting, fishing, kayaking and rock climbing in the summer; and Mount Alyeska, which looms at the end of the Girdwood valley, offers skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter months. There is also an abundance of cross-country trails within the valley in Moose Meadows near Girdwood's Hotel Alyeska.
Girdwood is located just 40 miles south of Anchorage and Anchorage International Airport. Follow the scenic Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm, and watch for Dall sheep, bald eagles and beluga whales.
At milepost 90 turn left onto the Alyeska Highway and follow this road into Girdwood.
Girdwood, Alaska was founded as a gold mining town at the turn of the century. Originally named Glacier City, it was renamed for Irish immigrant and linen merchant, James Girdwood, who had four gold claims on Crow Creek. The development of Girdwood was spurred by railroad construction begun in 1915 by the federal government.
In 1954, eleven local men formed the Alyeska Ski Corporation and began making the hard-earned dream of a first-class ski resort in Alaska a reality. In 1960 the first chairlift and a day lodge was built.
On Good Friday, 1964, disaster struck when a magnitude 9.2 earthquake dropped the coastal edges along Turnagain Arm by 8 to 10 feet. Consequently the town site of Girdwood was moved two and a half miles further up the valley to its present location at the foot of Mount Alyeska.