How does the Whittier Tunnel work in Alaska?

The Whittier Tunnel in Alaska is also known as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, and it’s the longest vehicle-railroad combined tunnel in North America at 2.5 miles in length.

This tunnel that goes through Maynard Mountain is located about 58 miles southeast of Anchorage, Alaska, and connects Bear Valley to the small town of Whittier.

It was built in 1943 as a railroad tunnel and today it is used by the Alaska Railroad and cars as well.

In this post, I’m going to share how everything you need to know to drive through the Whittier Tunnel to visit Whittier.

How to get to Whittier from Anchorage

Whittier is located 60 miles south of Anchorage. It usually takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive there. It may take longer if you don’t pay attention to the Whittier Tunnel Schedule. Follow the Seward Highway south and exit left on Portage Glacier Road. Follow the road through the tunnel to Whittier.

Quick Tips

  • Payment can be made with cash or card
  • Motorcycle helmets must be worn in the tunnel
  • Convertible vehicles must have the top in place
  • Oversize vehicles are allowed only on Monday-Thursday (at specific times)
  • Plan to arrive at the staging area 10 minutes prior to scheduled opening

Whittier Tunnel Hours

The Whittier tunnel is open year-round so people can always access this area of Alaska from the road system. However the tunnel is open open during the early morning hours through the evening and is closed during the night.

Summer Hours: Open daily 5:30 am to 11:15 pm

Winter Hours: Open daily 7:00 am to 10:45 pm

Whittier Tunnel Schedule

The tunnel only has a single lane so it runs on a one-way schedule. See the summer and winter tunnel schedule below.

Summer Tunnel Schedule (May 1 to September 30)

Winter Tunnel Schedule (October 1 to April 30)

Unscheduled trains using the tunnel in addition to the regularly scheduled passenger trains may cause occasional 15 to 30 minute delays.

Whittier Tunnel Costs

The Whittier tunnel fee is based on vehicle type. Smaller passenger vehicles not pulling trailers start at $13 USD for a single round-trip ticket. Passenger vehicles pulling trailers and larger recreational vehicles start at $22 for a single round-trip ticket.

Whittier Tunnel Tolls

How to pay for the Whittier tunnel?

You will find a toll booth before the staging area for the tunnel. Payment can be made just before the scheduled opening. You can pay with cash or a card.

Maximum Vehicle Dimensions

Under normal operations, the following are the maximum dimensions of vehicles allowed to use the tunnel:

  • Maximum of 10.0 feet wide (excluding mirrors)
  • Maximum of 14.0 feet high
  • Maximum of 75.0 feet long

Driving to Whittier

After you make payment, you will be directed to wait in a staging area until your scheduled departure. A green light will let you know that it’s your turn to drive through the tunnel. You can follow the vehicle in front of you for the single-file drive.

As you drive through the tunnel, you’ll find eight locations for vehicle turnouts. If a vehicle stops in this area it’ll set off an alarm and traffic waiting to enter the tunnel will be delayed.

Right next to the vehicle turnout is a door into what’s called the tunnel safe house. The tunnel safe house is a fire resistant room with its own air supply and emergency supplies used for safety reasons.

It will take about 8.5 minutes to drive to the other side. Once you arrive in Whittier, you’ll find there are plenty of fun things to do in town. Check out my local’s guide to Whittier on Travel Alaska.

Visit Whittier Alaska

Answering Your Questions

How long is the tunnel to Whittier?

The tunnel is 2.5 miles long and it takes about 8.5 minutes to drive through the entire tunnel.

How much is it to go through the Whittier Tunnel?

You can drive through the tunnel by paying a single round-trip ticket that starts off at $13 per vehicle.

Is the Whittier tunnel one way?

The tunnel runs on a one-way system so make sure to check the schedule if you don’t want to get stuck waiting around for an hour.

Why was Whittier tunnel built?

The passage was built during World War II to act as a supply route into Whittier. When the military abandoned Whittier in the 1960s, the tunnel became a part of Alaska’s highway system.


YouTube Video: Drive with me to Whittier through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel


Read More

How to See Portage Glacier: Summer vs Winter

Hike Horsetail Falls Trail in Whittier

5 Glacier Hikes Near Anchorage

Alaska Travel Guide


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The Whittier Tunnel in Alaska is also known as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, and it’s the longest vehicle-railroad combined tunnel in North America at 2.5 miles in length. Visit Whittier Alaska on Alaska's road system on a amazing road trip. #alaskatravel #whittierak #roadtrip

Do you have any questions about driving to Whittier? Leave them in the comments.

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