Spencer Glacier Area
A partnership between the Alaska Railroad Corporation and the U.S. Forest Service provides the public with a distinctive travel and recreational experience found nowhere else in the United States. And the only way to get there is on the Alaska Railroad.
A new self-propelled railcar called a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU), the Chugach Explorer, was introduced to the service in 2009. This all-in-one unit is suited for the Whistle Stop service because of its ability to stop and start in a short distance; and it is 50% more fuel effi cient, emits 72% less pollution and 75% less noise than a traditional locomotive configuration. It has the power to pull two additional railcars, or operate independently. This car is currently used on the Glacier Discovery Train.
The completed Whistle Stop project will include a series of 5 Whistle Stop stations with restrooms and other amenities. The Chugach Whistle Stop service to Spencer Glacier officially opened August 2007. The Spencer Glacier stop is the first of 5 whistle-stops planned for the future. The whistle-stop service to Spencer Glacier will be offered on the existing Glacier Discovery Train schedule.
Passengers can hop off the train at the Spencer Whistle Stop for a narrated 1.3-mile hike with a U.S. Forest Service ranger. The trail leads to Spencer Lake for spectacular glacier viewing. The area is now open to unguided and overnight use. Hikers can now explore the Spencer Lake area on their own.
There is a 2.1 mile trail that extends from Spencer Lake to Spencer Glacier. Dispersed, non-fee, camping opportunities are available along this trail. Within the Developed Recreation area, camping is available for reservation and fee at a group campsite. The group campsite has two pods, one accommodating 10 people, the other accommodating 15 people. The Spencer Bench Cabin is the newest cabin on the Chugach National Forest. The cabin sits at an elevation of 1,900’ at the end of the Spencer Bench Trail, climbing away from the lake revealing breathtaking views of the Placer River valley and Spencer Glacier below. The cabin sits just below several alpine meadows with vegetation of low shrubs, grasses and summer wildflowers. Black and brown bears, wolves and moose inhabit the area (learn about bear safety). Mountain goats, marmots, arctic ground squirrels and spruce grouse may be spotted on the terrain around the cabin.
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