Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area: A Guide to Field Tripping

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area


By far the best way to learn about the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is to get out and see it for yourself.

Around every turn lies a story to be told. Whether it be historic, archaeological, geological, or the effects of glaciation, the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is rich with lessons.

This section describes different sites that could be easily visited by school groups. This is certainly not a definitive list— there are many more sites than what has been listed. Perhaps you have a favorite site that you would like to share. At the end of this field trip section, are instructions on how to share sites with other teachers

You’ll note on the map to the right that, just like a treasure map, these sites are indicated with an X. Truly the analogy fits, for each site is a treasure waiting to be explored.

This section suggests various sites that might be visited to learn more about the history (human and natural) along the road system of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area.

NOTE 1 — These sites can be divided into 3 classifications:

MUSEUMS — These are organized repositories of information.

INTERPRETIVE SIGNS — Road side signage that describes nearby history or geology.

INQUIRY BASED: These are “wild” sites that are either historic remains or geologic features. These are wonderful opportunities for inquiry-based learning. Rather than provide students with the information, each of these sites ask students to make careful observations then answer the question: “What’s Going On Here?” It’s up to the individual teacher to decide how much “help” to provide— whether this is directing what students should be observing or guiding them towards a viable interpretation.


NOTE 2 — Time of year is critical. Most of these sites are realistically viewable in late spring or autumn. If the site is a museum, call ahead to check availability and price. In regards to wild sites, these are often buried if snow is on the ground. The window of opportunity can be very thin.

NOTE 3 — Suggested equipment is provided to make the most of your visit to that site. Proper clothing for the weather and footwear for off road terrain should be considered as well. Considering Alaska weather, Rite in the Rain paper should be used for notes.

NOTE 4 — Stress safety — for both the student and the resource. There are some sites that will be damaged if students don’t use proper care. In addition, some sites have safety issues. Cautions are noted in lessons, but these are not definitive.




Site    Number Specific Topic
1 Girdwood: Road House Museum
2 Girdwood: Crow Creek Mine (Restored Gold Mining Camp)
3 Turnagain Pass: Interpreting glaciation moraines
4 Hope Cutoff: Interpretative Signs of Gold Mining in Area
Hope Cutoff: Old Canyon Creek Bridge
5 Hope Museum: Mining History
6 Resurrection Creek: Evidence of Hydraulic Mining Strategies
7 Mile 56.6 – Geology: Land Subsidence
8 Mile 54 – Wible Hydraulic Mining Flume
9 Summit Lake: Effects of Glaciation
10 Mile 49 – Gilpatrick Lode Mining Operation
11 Tern Lake: Geology and Effects of Road Construction
12 Cooper Landing Museum
13 Well Preserved Prehistoric House Pit
14 Cooper Creek- Effects of Hydraulic Mining
15 K’Beq Native Cultural Center
16 View of Converging Corridors
17 Moose Pass: Local History, Railroad, and People
18 Primrose: Effects of Earthquake and Life in the Early 60’s
19 Mile 14: Effects of Glaciation: Jokulhlaup
20 Woodlawn Cemetery: Seward
21 Seward Community Library Museum
22 Seward 1964 Earthquake
23 Exit Glacier: Kenai Fjords National Park