Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound is a largely wild inlet in south-central Alaska, edged by rugged mountains and glacier-filled fjords, sprinkled with many scenic islands, and full of wildlife including whales, seals, bears, and many marine birds. It is known for its fisheries, tourism, and for outdoor sports and recreation such as kayaking, camping, and hiking.
The Sound is protected from the open Pacific by the large islands at its southern edge, especially Montague Island and Hinchinbrook Island. The Sound is bounded by the Kenai Mountains on the west and the Chugach Mountains on the north and east, including Mount Marcus Baker, the tallest peak in the Chugach at 13,176 feet. Dozens of tidal and hanging glaciers cascade from these mountains. As some of the most impressive glaciers near to Anchorage (Alaska's largest city), these glaciers have been a strong attraction for tourists. But long-time Alaskans have observed that the glacial landscape has changed even in their lifetimes. The most dramatic example of this in the Sound is the retreat of the massive Columbia Glacier. Once the highlight of the ferry trip from Valdez to Whittier, the glacier has retreated since 1980 away from a very shallow terminal moraine in Columbia Bay, often coralling icebergs and making it difficult for boats to approach the face of the glacier. The face (terminus) is now some 10 miles north of where it was in 1980.