Williwaw Campground: The Best Campground in Portage Valley

By Ryan Wilson

Updated:
This page may contain affiliate links, which will compensate us when you click on a link at no cost to you.
williwaw campground

Williwaw Campground is a quiet campground conveniently located at the head of Alaska’s Turnagain Arm. It’s a great jumping off point for exploring myriad recreation opportunities in Whittier, Alaska, or on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

I stayed at Williwaw Campground with my family a couple of summers ago and we had a great time. The campground is spacious and has multiple family-friendly activities within walking distance of the campground.

Portage Valley can be quite rainy and windy, so you likely will want to check the weather before booking a camping trip at Williwaw Campground.

Below I provide an overview of Williwaw Campground, what it has to offer, and other information to help you decide whether this campground is the right fit for you.


Williwaw Campground Review

IMG 7329 scaled

Williwaw Campground is a beautiful campground tucked below mountain peaks in Portage Valley Alaska. From the campground you have stunning views of the surrounding mountains as well as multiple glaciers.

It is located in the Chugach National Forest and sites cost $23 per night.

Williwaw Campground kiosk
Williwaw Campground Map

Williwaw Campground is situated just off the road to Portage Lake. Generally the road noise is minimal. But when we stayed there road work was being conducted on the Seward Highway, and dump trucks were running down the road periodically at night getting gravel at nearby gravel pits. So there can be road noise, but it’s not too bad and usually quiet at night.

The campsites have good spacing between them and campsites are very private.

Campsites

Williwaw Campground has 60 campsites which can accommodate all types of campers from tent campers to RV campers.

Campsite at Williwaw Campground
Campsite at Williwaw Campground

Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire pit.

There are no strictly walk-in sites, but any campsite can be used by non-motorized campers. I also like that Williwaw Campground also has food storage boxes in case you are not camping with a vehicle. There are a lot of bears in the area, so keeping a clean camp is VERY important.

Pay attention to signage in the campground about recent bear sightings and talk to the campground host about any concerns you might have.

Amenities

Williwaw Campground offers drinking water from a hand-pump. Although, the water pump may not be operational early and late in the season.

outhouse at Williwaw Campground

There are multiple outhouses with pit toilets around the campground. The campground has 9 outhouse which is nice so you don’t have to trek a half mile to find one at the opposite side of the campground from where you campsite is located..

There is also a dumpster for your trash. Please do not leave trash or food unsecured because both grizzly and black bears live in the area and could become problems if people don’t properly manage their camps.

There are no sewer, water, or electric hook-ups at Williwaw Campground.

Williwaw Campground Reservations

You can reserve campsites at Williwaw Campground up to 6 months in advance on Recreation.gov. While you may be able to find a site without a reservation, given how far in advance Alaskan campgrounds book up for the summer season I recommend making a reservation in advance if you can.

When is Williwaw Campground Open

Williwaw Campground is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day annually.

Getting There

Williwaw Campground is located about 55 miles from Anchorage, with most of the drive occurring along the scenic Turnagain Arm. It takes approximately 1 hour to get to the campground, but be prepared for delays because there tends to be a lot of construction along Alaska’s roadways in summer.

On your drive, be sure to look for beluga whales that follow the tides and hunt schools of fish. You might also see black bears, moose, Dall sheep, and many migratory birds along the way.

Turnagain Arm has one of the biggest bore tides in the world and it is quite impressive to watch! Keep your eyes peeled for kite and wind surfers who enjoy surfing the bore tides

Activities

There are a lot of activities within a short walk or drive of Williwaw Campground.

Spawning Salmon

One of my favorites, and that is a hit with the kids (and adults!) is the spawning salmon viewing platform which connects to the campground. Salmon are present between late August and early September.

These are not fish that you would want to eat because they are in the process of spawning and their bodies are literally falling apart. But it’s neat to see the end of the salmon’s life cycle and to watch males waiting and competing to fertilize the female’s eggs.

IMG 5494

Hiking

There are a number of trails adjacent to Williwaw Campground that allow you to explore Portage Valley and nearby glaciers.

The Trail of Blue Ice is a 5 mile long trail along Portage Valley that connects the Moose Flats Day Use Area with Portage Lake.

Across the Portage Valley Highway you can reach the Williwaw Nature Trail which is an easy walk/hike for exploring various ponds in the valley.

There is also a really nice hike up to the rapidly retreating Byron Glacier. I’ve been hiking that trail for over 20 years and have had the sad misfortune of getting to see the effects of climate change on the glacier first hand! It is an easy 1.4 mile hike that is appropriate for families with young kids.

Glacier Viewing

You can take a boat tour of Portage Glacier a short drive from the campground to access the tour. But if you’re going to do one glacier tour on your trip, I would suggest heading to the nearby community of Whittier to take a full-day glacier cruise.

You can also take kayaks onto Portage Lake (if you have one and have the requisite experience) to paddle to Portage Glacier yourself.

Rafting

If you have a pack raft or canoe and have experience navigating rivers, Portage Creek is a great day trip from the just upstream of the campground. It is known as the “easiest” river float near Anchorage. A number of outfitters also offer float trips on the creek.

Fishing

Portage Valley offers a number of opportunities for fishing, primarily rainbow trout in stocked lakes. If you want to try your hand fishing for salmon, then you’re probably best heading over to Whittier and getting a fishing charter or heading down to the Kenai where there are many places to fish.


Summary

The Williwaw Campground is a great option if you want to explore the Portage Valley Area, Whittier, or the Kenai Peninsula.

Williwaw Campground offers more activities in the surrounding area than most other campgrounds I have stayed at in Alaska. It really is a great campground for family-friendly activities.

If you’re looking for a majestic camping weekend not far from Anchorage, then the Williwaw Campground is a great choice. Just pay attention to the weather forecast and cross your fingers that it will be great weather because you’ll be in for a real treat!

Interested in learning more about other camping opportunities in Alaska? Check out our page on Alaska Campgrounds to learn about other campgrounds to explore.

Save $25 off your Camper Rental at RVezy

In the USA:

Use offer code RVEZYUSA25

In Canada:

Use offer code RVEZYCAN25

Photo of author

Author

Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.