Surrounded by the rugged coastal mountains of the Chugach Range, the sound is at the heart of the Chugach National Forest. The waters of Prince William Sound, unlike most other cruising areas in Alaska, are calm and sheltered. Due to the surrounding large islands and restrictive passages that separates the area from the Gulf of Alaska, you won't see many big waves or swells.
Your sightseeing possibilities are boundless with 2,700 miles of coastline to explore and most of it virtually untouched by human hands. You can choose from a variety of activities and create your own adventure. You can view the regional sea life or hear the roar of ancient glaciers as they calve into the sea. Or simply sit back, relax and enjoy as spectacular scenery passes before your eyes.
Whale watching, of course is everybody's favorite and the chances of seeing a humpback whale are very good. Orcas are generally less common but keep your eyes keen, don't let your attention wander and you may be lucky enough to spot one. Gray whales pass the entrances to Prince William Sound during their spring migration to the Bering Sea.
Especially in the early summer, your chances of seeing whales and porpoises en route to the islands situated in the center of the Sound are very good. Also keep a lookout for harbor seals and Steller's sea lions. The islands are also home to thousands of tufted puffins, horned puffins, parakeet auklets and a variety of other seabirds.
Prince William Sound is also prime black bear country. Especially in spring, before food is plentiful, you may see them foraging along the shore for rockweed and barnacles.
A coastal plateau was gradually carved away by millions of years of glaciation creating the sound with its many tributary fjords and passageways, islands and rocky shores. Three towns, Whittier, Valdez and Cordova, and two native villages, Chenega and Tatitlek are situated on the shores of the sound. Because the sound was formed by millions of years of glaciation, its shorelines are heavily indented by deep fjords and many small bays. Therefore, there are no roads connecting these communities.
Recently discovered evidence leads glaciologists to believe that the area has been glaciated for nearly 15 million years. There are few other places on earth that have experienced such a prolonged period of glaciation.
During the great Pleistocene glaciation (2.5 million years ago) when glaciers covered much of the northern North America, sea level was 150 to 300 feet lower than today because so much water was locked up in the glaciers. All of Prince William Sound was covered by a massive glacier. The Bering Land Bridge connected Alaska to Asia. Many scientists believe that about 15,000 years ago, nomadic people in Siberia began moving across the 100 mile wide bridge.