Locals around the city of Anchorage will often mention Thunderbird Falls as the best waterfall in the area. It’s only 20 miles away and roughly a 30 minute drive to reach the trailhead. Chugach State Park is actually home to several great waterfalls in Alaska and you can easily enjoy a few all within a day of outdoor fun.
Details about Thunderbird Falls
The falls cascade roughly 200 feet down over jagged rocks and cliffs through various tiers. In spring time during it’s peak it feels like a nearby dam broke and the thunderous waters are plunging towards you (very inspiring on just how powerful mother nature can be). However, don’t be alarmed as once the waters hit the large pool below they calm down as they start to continue the journey down the Eklutna River. On very sunny days you may even catch a glimpse of a rainbow shimmering off the mist rising from the swimming hole.
Families enjoy the hike up to Thunderbird falls as it’s suitable for all ages. It starts out with a slight gain in elevation before flattening out the rest of the day. In total it’s about a 2 mile round trip loop that won’t take you long to accomplish.
Once you reach the natural wonder, there is a nice viewing deck that most people use to grab photos of their friends and family standing in front of this scenic attraction. You can opt to also use a hiking trail close by that takes you down into the canyon and get up close and personal with the falls.
When you are done enjoying Thunderbird falls, check out a few other popular attractions within walking distance such as Eklutna Lake or Mirror Edmonds Lakes Park. Dispersed camping is also readily available if you want to make your journey a weekend getaway.
Directions to Thunderbird Falls
To get to Thunderbird Falls, take the Seward Highway south from Anchorage for about 10 miles.
Take the New Seward Highway exit and stay on it until you reach the O’Malley Road exit.
Follow O’Malley Road for 3 miles and then turn left onto Hillside Drive.
After 1 mile, turn right onto Dowling Road. Turn left after 0.5 miles onto Upper Huffman Rd., then continue straight onto Westchester Lagoon Dr.
After 2 miles, you’ll arrive at Thunderbird Falls!