Category Archives: Glacier

Glenn Highway

Glenn Highway
Location: between Palmer and Glennallen, Alaska
Length of visit: 4 hours
Major draws: Fall colors, scenic views, glaciers, wildlife
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Cost of gasoline
Additional considerations: Steep hills and curvy highway
Description: Autumn arrives in August along the Glenn Highway, which is mostly above 2,000 feet in elevation. Spectacular views of Matanuska Glacier and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park on a clear day.

Homer, Alaska

Homer, Alaska
Location: Homer, Alaska
Length of visit: full day to multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, wildlife, fishing
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: It’s the end of the road
Description: Homer has been called a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem and if you hang out at the Salty Dawg Saloon you might agree.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Harding Icefield Trail—Kenai Fjords National Park
Location: Seward, Alaska
Length of visit: 4 to 8 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, glacier, hiking
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: At the top winter conditions persist all year, Exit Glacier is the only portion of the park accessible by road
Description: Hiking to 3,500 feet to view the expansive Harding Icefield requires at least 4 hours and some uphill endurance, but it’s fun to run back down.

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site
Location: north of Valdez, Alaska
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Scenic views, a glacier you can touch
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: There is not a maintained trail to the edge of the glacier
Description: Since 2004, Scott has returned three times to Worthington Glacier to witness its recession higher up the mountain. It is located near Thompson Pass, one of the snowiest spots in Alaska.

Valdez, Alaska

Valdez, Alaska
Location: Valdez, Alaska
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, wildlife, spawning salmon
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: All those fish attract black bears
Description: Pink salmon return in the millions to the hatchery in scenic Valdez near the terminus of the 800-mile long Alyeska Oil Pipeline.

Root Glacier

Root Glacier—Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Location: Kennecott, Alaska
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Ice formations, off-trail glacier exploration, crystal clear drinking water
Strenuosity: 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $110 per person for 9-hour guided tour
Additional considerations: Moulins can be hundreds of feet deep, crampons required for walking, katabatic winds are cold
Description: Learning the basics of glacier route-finding was worth every penny we paid on this sunny day in Kennecott. Our excellent guide Ethan took us to waterfalls, slot canyons, kames, blue pools, and moraines, while keeping us from getting too close to dangerous moulins.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Kennecott Mine—Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Location: eastern Alaska
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Historic structures, scenic views, museums
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Can only enter most buildings on private guided tour
Description: The discovery of the richest copper ore in the world led to the building of the Kennecott mining town and railroads to transport its products across the Copper River in the early 1900s. The town is partially owned privately and publicly by the National Park Service, and it is continually undergoing renovations.

Denali Highway

Denali Highway
Location: between Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks
Length of visit: 6 hours
Major draws: Scenic views of mountain glaciers, wildlife, dispersed camping
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Over 100 miles of unpaved road with potholes, no services
Description: We got a flat tire soon after starting down this 135-mile long road, but had no other issues as we enjoyed the mountain scenery on this path that has been used by humans for at least 10,000 years.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Location: east of Dalton Highway through Brooks Range
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, wildlife, backcountry camping
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No roads access park, no trails
Description: ANWR was on the tip of everyone’s tongue during the early-2000s when it was debated whether or not to open it to oil drilling. While it may not see many recreationists, it does preserve important habitat for caribou and muskox.

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic National Park
Location: west of Dalton Highway through Brooks Range
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, wildlife, backcountry camping
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No roads access park, no trails
Description: Despite the park’s proximity to the highway, crossing into its boundaries requires fording rivers and hiking at least 5 miles across muskeg and tundra without trails. We day hiked 13-miles roundtrip from Galbraith Lake campground to be able to say we made it.