Whittier is a small town in Alaska.
Whittier is an unusual town in a stunning natural setting. It is set on the shores of Prince William Sound, and nearly the entire year-round population lives in a single building called the Begich Towers, known as “city under one roof”. Whittier was built to provide a safe port for access to central Alaska during World War II, with a tunnel to allow access to the other side of the Chugach Mountains.
The only road access to Whittier is via a tunnel through a mountain. The tunnel was built for rail use only, and is now a one-way-at-a-time tunnel that is still shared by the railroad as well. Coming from Anchorage, you go south on the Seward Highway and turn onto Portage Glacier Road, and the tunnel is at the end. There is a fee, and you will need to wait until the tunnel is open for traffic moving in your direction, so plan ahead if you are connecting with a boat on the other side. The tunnel is closed to vehicular traffic at night depending on the seasons. Motorcycling through the tunnel requires extra cautions, and non-motorized traffic is banned.
Whittier has docking facilities for cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. It is possible to go straight from the docks to a train to Seward or Anchorage.
There is a small airport with a single gravel runway, but there are no scheduled flights.
Whittier is quite small: basically the whole town is within walking distance of the tunnel and docks. Most of the populace live and work within the Begich Towers. and the few blocks surrounding the Begich Towers. The tower contains a local grade school, indoor playground, City Hall, a conference center, a Baptist church, Post Office and B&B units on the 14 & 15 floors.
The whole reason Whittier exists is to create a link between southcentral Alaska and Prince William Sound. There isn’t much to see in the town, but there are ample opportunities to venture out on the water and see the Sound. Whittier is known for poor weather (it's the wettest city in the United States), so come prepared for wind and rain.
You'll find numerous charter fishing and sightseeing operations for hire at the docks. Both sides of the tunnel are within Chugach National Forest, the Portage Valley has a visitor center, a system of hiking trails, and boat tours on Portage Lake that go to Portage Glacier.
At the end of Portage Glacier Road heading out of town, turn right to get to Anchorage, left to get to Soldotna, Homer, and Seward.