The rest of the country is about to find out what peninsula residents have long known -- that the Seward Highway is more than just the road to Anchorage.
On Thursday, the U.S. Depart-ment of Transportation recognized the Seward Highway as one of the country's foremost strips of asphalt. The 127-mile highway was named an "All-American Road," putting it in a league with just 14 other roads in the country.
The announcement came as no surprise to Jim Miller, owner of Snoshoe Shuttle in Soldotna. He runs a daily shuttle service between the peninsula and Anchorage. Miller agreed that the road is one of the finest, in terms of scenic beauty and wildlife accessibility.
"I was coming around Turnagain Arm one day, and there were around 50 or 60 beluga whales," Miller said.
Miller said the stretch of highway along Turnagain Arm is one of his favorite parts of the drive.
"Several times I've been over there just in time to see the bore tide," Miller said.
Miller said many of his customers also agree that the drive down the Seward Highway is the best part of their trip to Alaska. He said the tourists ask him to pull over and take pictures of everything.
In it's announcement, the USDOT singled out the Seward Highway not only for its spectacular views of towering mountains, glaciers and wildlife, but also for its roadside access to dozens of natural and historical interpretive sites, world-class ski slopes, ice-climbing sites, hiking trails, bicycle and pedestrian pathways, hunting spots and fishing holes.
Gov. Tony Knowles said he was pleased with the recognition.
"This is an honor that anyone who has ever driven the Seward Highway can understand and enjoy," Knowles said in a press release. "In just 10 minutes from our state's largest city, travelers are transported to a place of breathtaking beauty. The designation now places the Seward Highway in the international spotlight as a premier destination and scenic asset."
In 1998, the Seward Highway was declared a National Scenic Byway. According to the governor's press release, the elevated designation of All-American Road exemplifies a unique driving experience of national significance, since All-American Roads are considered destinations unto themselves.
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