Photo Credit: 49th State Motor Tours

Palmer / Wasilla Area Day Tours & Attractions

Dog Sledding View All

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

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Glacier Tours View All

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

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Sightseeing Tours View All

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

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Jeep & ATV Tours View All

ATV in the Matanuska and Knik Glacier Valleys, just a 50-minute drive from Anchorage

Season: May 06 to Sep 30 $100+ | Sundays Only 3.5 hrs

Rid­ing Alas­ka ATV Tours show­case the won­ders of the glacial­ly-fed Eklut­na Lake area, a local favorite hid­den away just out­side Anchor­age. Bring the fam­i­ly for a ful­ly-guid­ed ride along the lake and beyond – across grav­el moraines, over rush­ing rivers and through wood­lands, to with­in sight of Eklut­na glac­i­er itself. Sit back and relax while your dri­ver does all the work! Keep a look out: the peace­ful land­scape is alive with wildlife, including  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Two trails trav­el over the Mat-Su Col­lege lands; one from the col­lege and one from Snod­grass Hall. The Mat-Su Col­lege trail­head leads to a hilly loop and opens to beau­ti­ful views of Lazy Moun­tain, Twin Peaks, Boden­burge Butte, and Knik Glac­i­er — the best moun­tain views in the entire green­belt system.

On the north side of the Knik Riv­er Bridge, turn off the main road­way and dri­ve down the riverbed.This is a good area to get out and hike around, you can walk beside the glacial­ly-fed Knik Riv­er while under the dom­i­nant peaks of the Chugach Moun­tains and Pio­neer Peak. 

Season: Year Round $99+ per night

This inti­mate 4‑room B&B, just 45 min­utes from Anchor­age in charm­ing Palmer, is set on six gor­geous acres and comes with great views, deli­cious break­fasts, and hosts who are pas­sion­ate about mak­ing you feel right at home.

Explore the expan­sive grav­el beds or mean­der along the mighty Matanus­ka-Susit­na Riv­er and link up with the Mat­su Riv­er Park trails, locat­ed in the trees to the west.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

This short, paved trail is an hour’s dri­ve north of Anchor­age in south­ern Wasil­la. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats — a large stretch of wet­lands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a view­ing plat­form over­looks the flats and the Chugach Moun­tains beyond.

Some 50 miles north of Anchor­age, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. From the pic­nic table at the upper­most end of the trail, you’ll find a sat­is­fy­ing panoram­ic view of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Knik Riv­er val­leys. It’s a view as good, or bet­ter, than that from many summits.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Why Take This Hike This trail, locat­ed 90 min­utes north of Anchor­age just across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from down­town Palmer, makes no pre­tense about its pur­pose. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after leav­ing the park­ing area, it begins to climb straight up the steep west face of Lazy Moun­tain. For some 2,000 feet, there’s nary a switch­back or respite as the trail winds up to the sum­mit ridge. It’s a tru­ly breath­less work­out. The Details Out of Palmer,…  ...more

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

Season: Sep 19 to May 09 $63+

Win­ter in Alas­ka is a mag­i­cal time, with few­er vis­i­tors and a serene, snow-cov­ered land­scape. If you’re here from mid-Sep­tem­ber to mid-May, you can take it in from the com­fort of the Auro­ra Win­ter Train, which runs between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It’s an easy and mem­o­rable way to trav­el north and expe­ri­ence the auro­ra bore­alis, or even do a week­end get­away to Talkeetna.

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

Season: Year Round $125+

Enjoy your own pri­vate log cab­in in the wilder­ness, with all the mod­ern con­ve­niences, just an hour north of Anchor­age and min­utes from Wasil­la and Palmer. Nes­tled at the entrance to Hatch­er Pass in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains, your cozy log cab­in makes an ide­al base camp for all your Alaskan adventures!

Difficulty: Moderate

How to get ThereThe Plum­ley-Maud Trail can be accessed from the end of Maud Road, or from the cor­ner on Plum­ley Road near Caudill Road. 1) Access from Maud Road: From Palmer go south east 3 12 miles on the Old Glenn High­way, take a left on Maud Road, fol­low Maud Road for 1 12 miles. There is a small turn around and lim­it­ed park­ing before the creek direct­ly east of the road. Please be care­ful not to block the entrance to the trail or the…  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5670 feet

No offi­cial trail in South­cen­tral Alas­ka climbs as high as Matanus­ka Peak Trail. Begin­ning in a sub­di­vi­sion across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from Palmer, this near­ly 6‑mile-long trail runs up some 5,700 ver­ti­cal feet. Your des­ti­na­tion is the 6,119-foot sum­mit of Matanus­ka Peak, the very promi­nent rock spire that fills the sky just east of Palmer. But despite the impos­ing appear­ance of this moun­tain, the trail to its sum­mit requires no extensive  ...more

These frozen chan­nels wind for miles across the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge off the Glenn High­way in the mouth of the Matanus­ka and Knik riv­er val­leys, just 35 miles north of Anchor­age. Either trav­el the streams or explore exten­sive pond net­works on the flats.

$169+

Dis­cov­er cozy cab­ins, great food, and big Alaskan adven­tures at this inti­mate lodge that sits on the edge of the wilder­ness yet is super-acces­si­ble from Anchor­age. It lies tucked in at the back of the Knik Riv­er Val­ley and at the end of Knik Riv­er Road, where Alaska’s real wilder­ness opens up, with moun­tain and riv­er views — but with­out a flight or long dri­ve. It’s the per­fect place to escape for a few days, with lots of activ­i­ties avail­able from  ...more

Season: Year Round $13+ 1 hour

In the agri­cul­tur­al Matanus­ka Val­ley just north of Anchor­age, you can pet a rein­deer or feed fresh wil­low to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Rein­deer Farm has been in the Williams fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the one-hour tour, you’ll hear inter­est­ing, fun­ny, and insight­ful sto­ries about these wild ani­mals while walk­ing around the prop­er­ty. If you want to see the baby rein­deer, come in June!

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

Want to feel dwarfed by Alaska’s moun­tains? Take a 2‑hour dri­ve north on the Parks High­way and then up Hatch­er Pass Road, where you’ll find this 2‑mile-long ATV trail — a wide but occa­sion­al­ly steep path that leads to the crest of Box Lake Ridge. From the big, round­ed top of this ridge, you can’t help but feel over­whelmed by the enor­mous Tal­keet­na Moun­tains that sur­round you.

Season: Aug 27 to Sep 07

For over 75 years, the Alas­ka State Fair has been a gath­er­ing place for all Alaskans, and a last hur­rah” before sum­mer gives way to the long Alas­ka winter.What start­ed as a cel­e­bra­tion for the Mat-Su colonists in 1936 has grown into the state’s largest annu­al event. Each year, hun­dreds of thou­sands of fair­go­ers enjoyed night­ly con­certs fea­tur­ing head­line enter­tain­ers in the AT&T Con­cert Series, car­ni­val rides and games, hun­dreds of…  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

Difficulty: Moderate

Locat­ed one-third of the way from Palmer to Wasil­la, this 33-mile trail sys­tem mean­ders through bore­al for­est, farm­land, and the rolling moraines left by the glac­i­ers of the last Ice Age. The trails are some of the only non-moun­tain, non-motor­ized path­ways in the area, and they’re pop­u­lar with dog walk­ers, moun­tain bik­ers, geo-cachers, cross-coun­try skiers, run­ners, and equestrians.

This 4.5‑mile trail, some 2 hours north of Anchor­age on the west side of Hatch­er Pass, climbs 1,000 feet up a very typ­i­cal Tal­keet­na val­ley — long, broad, and lined with tow­er­ing peaks on both sides. It also pass­es by relics and ruins of old min­ing days, when these val­leys echoed with the sounds of picks and drills.

$11 40 - 45 min

Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox farm project was con­ceived in the 1950s as an agrar­i­an oppor­tu­ni­ty for vil­lagers in West­ern Alas­ka; today it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at an ani­mal (and a way of life) that was per­ilous­ly close to extinc­tion. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friend­ly crea­tures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

You’ll find even more play­grounds that take advan­tage of the unique assets of their loca­tions. Here’s a list of our top picks!

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Moth­er­lode Restau­rant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the sum­mer­time you can dri­ve the trail for a mile or two, but it is pit­ted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a park­ing area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail con­tin­ues with lit­tle ele­va­tion gain ini­tial­ly, but after a mile or so you will  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles

It’s not very often that peo­ple can see a glac­i­er in an untamed and remote loca­tion, far from any road or cruise-ship route. But if you feel capa­ble and con­fi­dent enough to climb a very rough trail up many ver­ti­cal feet of rocky ter­rain, then you might con­sid­er under­tak­ing the hike to Snow­bird Pass, locat­ed high in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains just north of Hatch­er Pass. From this van­tage point you can look down the entire length of Snow­bird Glacier.  ...more

Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Sum­mit Lake, locat­ed some 60 miles north of Anchor­age at the crest of Hatch­er Pass, offers a short, mem­o­rable lake­side ram­ble. Here you can explore the sur­round­ing gul­lies and slopes or just sit and watch hang glid­ers drift out over the long Wil­low Creek Val­ley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.

Difficulty: Easy

With a length of just 1.5 miles and a sum­mit reach­ing only 874 feet, West Butte Trail on Boden­burg Butte — a 45-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age — makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. But even if you’re a more expe­ri­enced hik­er, don’t let the butte’s dwarf-like height dis­suade you. This small bump in the cen­ter of a grand allu­vial plain offers far-reach­ing views from its sum­mit; plus, the climb includes a pulse-quick­en­ing 0.25 miles of stairs up the steep  ...more

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5200 feet

Are you a moun­tain run­ner look­ing for a tough work­out? Con­sid­er Pio­neer Ridge Trail. This trail, locat­ed a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age on scenic Knik Riv­er Road, climbs some 5,200 feet over its 6 miles. Oth­er trails, like Lazy Moun­tain Trail and Mount Marathon Race Route, may be steep­er or rock­i­er, but no trail in the Chugach Moun­tains climbs so steadi­ly for so long as Pio­neer Ridge.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

As you approach the Inde­pen­dence Mine Park­ing Lot, the trail can be seen to the far right end. It cross­es over a small bridge, and winds up past an old aban­doned min­ing cab­in, and then up a debris field and final­ly to the lake. Round trip, the hike is almost 2 miles, and the ele­va­tion gain is approx­i­mate­ly 600 feet. The trail can be mud­dy and wet for the first .25 miles, but it’s worth the hike to see Gold Cord Lake, and a great view of the Mine  ...more

Just a 45-minute dri­ve from Anchor­age, Raven’s Perch lies with­in the main lodge at the cozy Knik Riv­er Lodge, with big win­dows and an out­door deck look­ing out to a spec­tac­u­lar view. The focus here is on local, sus­tain­able ingre­di­ents and prod­ucts. The staff talks with local farm­ers and plans ahead to see what veg­eta­bles are com­ing into sea­son to cre­ate their menus.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 16 miles Elevation Gain: 2900 feet

A straight­for­ward trip with big scenery pay­offs, like the pic­turesque Mint Hut and a val­ley dot­ted with hang­ing glac­i­ers. This trip is a great first back­pack­ing trip in Alas­ka with sim­ple logis­tics. It’s 16 miles with options for addi­tion­al miles and side trips.

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

The Fish­hook Trail­head park­ing lot is locat­ed at mile 16.5 of Hatch­er Pass Road. This area is active­ly used year round. In the sum­mer it’s a great area to hike and in late sum­mer the slopes are abun­dant with blue­ber­ries. This trail­head also leads to Mar­mot Moun­tain, were paraglid­ers launch from the top and land in the park­ing lot. In the win­ter, the area draws indi­vid­u­als to sled, ski and snow­ma­chine. This trail­head inter­sects with The Hatcher  ...more

$225+ 3-9 hours

Explore the rivers of south­cen­tral Alas­ka on a float or fish­ing trip guid­ed by Hell Bent Fish­ing Char­ters. Raft along a scenic riv­er hid­ing away just min­utes off the road sys­tem. It fits per­fect­ly into a half day or full day, when you want to step out of the hus­tle and bus­tle of your vaca­tion and into authen­tic Alaska.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 3700 feet

Begin­ning a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in Gov­ern­ment Hill Recre­ation Area, Gov­ern­ment Peak Race Trail offers a fine oppor­tu­ni­ty for a hard work­out; it climbs some 3,700 ver­ti­cal feet in just 3 miles. Plus, this climb doesn’t include any extra­or­di­nary dan­gers. (A friend refers to one short ledge on this trail as death rock,” but she tends to exag­ger­ate.) Some sec­tions require spe­cial care to nego­ti­ate, but you won’t have to tra­verse any  ...more

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

There are some nice long down­hills with banked turns, a few shal­low creek cross­ings, and some chunk sec­tions. Most of this trail lies on south-fac­ing hill­sides, with views of the Knik Riv­er Val­ley and Pio­neer Peak.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

The 5‑mile-long Eska Falls Trail is locat­ed a 2‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in the moun­tains above the town of Sut­ton. And it leads to one of nature’s sym­met­ri­cal­ly framed won­ders — a 100-foot water­fall locat­ed at the end of a mile-long val­ley that’s flanked by two mas­sive sum­mits. This set­ting makes Eska Falls not so much a hike to a des­ti­na­tion as much as a hike to a presentation.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sunday.

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Snowmobiling Tours View All

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

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Wildlife Parks View All

Season: Year Round $13+ 1 hour

In the agri­cul­tur­al Matanus­ka Val­ley just north of Anchor­age, you can pet a rein­deer or feed fresh wil­low to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Rein­deer Farm has been in the Williams fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the one-hour tour, you’ll hear inter­est­ing, fun­ny, and insight­ful sto­ries about these wild ani­mals while walk­ing around the prop­er­ty. If you want to see the baby rein­deer, come in June!

$11 40 - 45 min

Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox farm project was con­ceived in the 1950s as an agrar­i­an oppor­tu­ni­ty for vil­lagers in West­ern Alas­ka; today it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at an ani­mal (and a way of life) that was per­ilous­ly close to extinc­tion. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friend­ly crea­tures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.

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Fairs & Festivals View All

Season: Aug 27 to Sep 07

For over 75 years, the Alas­ka State Fair has been a gath­er­ing place for all Alaskans, and a last hur­rah” before sum­mer gives way to the long Alas­ka winter.What start­ed as a cel­e­bra­tion for the Mat-Su colonists in 1936 has grown into the state’s largest annu­al event. Each year, hun­dreds of thou­sands of fair­go­ers enjoyed night­ly con­certs fea­tur­ing head­line enter­tain­ers in the AT&T Con­cert Series, car­ni­val rides and games, hun­dreds of…  ...more

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Museums & Cultural Centers View All

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Visitor Information Centers View All

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Points of Interest View All

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sunday.

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Historic Park or Site View All

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Scenic Drives View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

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Walking Tours View All

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

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Hiking & Trails View All

Difficulty: Moderate

How to get ThereThe Plum­ley-Maud Trail can be accessed from the end of Maud Road, or from the cor­ner on Plum­ley Road near Caudill Road. 1) Access from Maud Road: From Palmer go south east 3 12 miles on the Old Glenn High­way, take a left on Maud Road, fol­low Maud Road for 1 12 miles. There is a small turn around and lim­it­ed park­ing before the creek direct­ly east of the road. Please be care­ful not to block the entrance to the trail or the…  ...more

Some 50 miles north of Anchor­age, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. From the pic­nic table at the upper­most end of the trail, you’ll find a sat­is­fy­ing panoram­ic view of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Knik Riv­er val­leys. It’s a view as good, or bet­ter, than that from many summits.

Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Sum­mit Lake, locat­ed some 60 miles north of Anchor­age at the crest of Hatch­er Pass, offers a short, mem­o­rable lake­side ram­ble. Here you can explore the sur­round­ing gul­lies and slopes or just sit and watch hang glid­ers drift out over the long Wil­low Creek Val­ley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.

There are some nice long down­hills with banked turns, a few shal­low creek cross­ings, and some chunk sec­tions. Most of this trail lies on south-fac­ing hill­sides, with views of the Knik Riv­er Val­ley and Pio­neer Peak.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 16 miles Elevation Gain: 2900 feet

A straight­for­ward trip with big scenery pay­offs, like the pic­turesque Mint Hut and a val­ley dot­ted with hang­ing glac­i­ers. This trip is a great first back­pack­ing trip in Alas­ka with sim­ple logis­tics. It’s 16 miles with options for addi­tion­al miles and side trips.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Moth­er­lode Restau­rant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the sum­mer­time you can dri­ve the trail for a mile or two, but it is pit­ted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a park­ing area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail con­tin­ues with lit­tle ele­va­tion gain ini­tial­ly, but after a mile or so you will  ...more

Explore the expan­sive grav­el beds or mean­der along the mighty Matanus­ka-Susit­na Riv­er and link up with the Mat­su Riv­er Park trails, locat­ed in the trees to the west.

You’ll find even more play­grounds that take advan­tage of the unique assets of their loca­tions. Here’s a list of our top picks!

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5670 feet

No offi­cial trail in South­cen­tral Alas­ka climbs as high as Matanus­ka Peak Trail. Begin­ning in a sub­di­vi­sion across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from Palmer, this near­ly 6‑mile-long trail runs up some 5,700 ver­ti­cal feet. Your des­ti­na­tion is the 6,119-foot sum­mit of Matanus­ka Peak, the very promi­nent rock spire that fills the sky just east of Palmer. But despite the impos­ing appear­ance of this moun­tain, the trail to its sum­mit requires no extensive  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

Locat­ed one-third of the way from Palmer to Wasil­la, this 33-mile trail sys­tem mean­ders through bore­al for­est, farm­land, and the rolling moraines left by the glac­i­ers of the last Ice Age. The trails are some of the only non-moun­tain, non-motor­ized path­ways in the area, and they’re pop­u­lar with dog walk­ers, moun­tain bik­ers, geo-cachers, cross-coun­try skiers, run­ners, and equestrians.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 3700 feet

Begin­ning a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in Gov­ern­ment Hill Recre­ation Area, Gov­ern­ment Peak Race Trail offers a fine oppor­tu­ni­ty for a hard work­out; it climbs some 3,700 ver­ti­cal feet in just 3 miles. Plus, this climb doesn’t include any extra­or­di­nary dan­gers. (A friend refers to one short ledge on this trail as death rock,” but she tends to exag­ger­ate.) Some sec­tions require spe­cial care to nego­ti­ate, but you won’t have to tra­verse any  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

This short, paved trail is an hour’s dri­ve north of Anchor­age in south­ern Wasil­la. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats — a large stretch of wet­lands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a view­ing plat­form over­looks the flats and the Chugach Moun­tains beyond.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

The 5‑mile-long Eska Falls Trail is locat­ed a 2‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in the moun­tains above the town of Sut­ton. And it leads to one of nature’s sym­met­ri­cal­ly framed won­ders — a 100-foot water­fall locat­ed at the end of a mile-long val­ley that’s flanked by two mas­sive sum­mits. This set­ting makes Eska Falls not so much a hike to a des­ti­na­tion as much as a hike to a presentation.

Want to feel dwarfed by Alaska’s moun­tains? Take a 2‑hour dri­ve north on the Parks High­way and then up Hatch­er Pass Road, where you’ll find this 2‑mile-long ATV trail — a wide but occa­sion­al­ly steep path that leads to the crest of Box Lake Ridge. From the big, round­ed top of this ridge, you can’t help but feel over­whelmed by the enor­mous Tal­keet­na Moun­tains that sur­round you.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Why Take This Hike This trail, locat­ed 90 min­utes north of Anchor­age just across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from down­town Palmer, makes no pre­tense about its pur­pose. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after leav­ing the park­ing area, it begins to climb straight up the steep west face of Lazy Moun­tain. For some 2,000 feet, there’s nary a switch­back or respite as the trail winds up to the sum­mit ridge. It’s a tru­ly breath­less work­out. The Details Out of Palmer,…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Two trails trav­el over the Mat-Su Col­lege lands; one from the col­lege and one from Snod­grass Hall. The Mat-Su Col­lege trail­head leads to a hilly loop and opens to beau­ti­ful views of Lazy Moun­tain, Twin Peaks, Boden­burge Butte, and Knik Glac­i­er — the best moun­tain views in the entire green­belt system.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

As you approach the Inde­pen­dence Mine Park­ing Lot, the trail can be seen to the far right end. It cross­es over a small bridge, and winds up past an old aban­doned min­ing cab­in, and then up a debris field and final­ly to the lake. Round trip, the hike is almost 2 miles, and the ele­va­tion gain is approx­i­mate­ly 600 feet. The trail can be mud­dy and wet for the first .25 miles, but it’s worth the hike to see Gold Cord Lake, and a great view of the Mine  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5200 feet

Are you a moun­tain run­ner look­ing for a tough work­out? Con­sid­er Pio­neer Ridge Trail. This trail, locat­ed a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age on scenic Knik Riv­er Road, climbs some 5,200 feet over its 6 miles. Oth­er trails, like Lazy Moun­tain Trail and Mount Marathon Race Route, may be steep­er or rock­i­er, but no trail in the Chugach Moun­tains climbs so steadi­ly for so long as Pio­neer Ridge.

Difficulty: Easy

With a length of just 1.5 miles and a sum­mit reach­ing only 874 feet, West Butte Trail on Boden­burg Butte — a 45-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age — makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. But even if you’re a more expe­ri­enced hik­er, don’t let the butte’s dwarf-like height dis­suade you. This small bump in the cen­ter of a grand allu­vial plain offers far-reach­ing views from its sum­mit; plus, the climb includes a pulse-quick­en­ing 0.25 miles of stairs up the steep  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles

It’s not very often that peo­ple can see a glac­i­er in an untamed and remote loca­tion, far from any road or cruise-ship route. But if you feel capa­ble and con­fi­dent enough to climb a very rough trail up many ver­ti­cal feet of rocky ter­rain, then you might con­sid­er under­tak­ing the hike to Snow­bird Pass, locat­ed high in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains just north of Hatch­er Pass. From this van­tage point you can look down the entire length of Snow­bird Glacier.  ...more

The Fish­hook Trail­head park­ing lot is locat­ed at mile 16.5 of Hatch­er Pass Road. This area is active­ly used year round. In the sum­mer it’s a great area to hike and in late sum­mer the slopes are abun­dant with blue­ber­ries. This trail­head also leads to Mar­mot Moun­tain, were paraglid­ers launch from the top and land in the park­ing lot. In the win­ter, the area draws indi­vid­u­als to sled, ski and snow­ma­chine. This trail­head inter­sects with The Hatcher  ...more

This 4.5‑mile trail, some 2 hours north of Anchor­age on the west side of Hatch­er Pass, climbs 1,000 feet up a very typ­i­cal Tal­keet­na val­ley — long, broad, and lined with tow­er­ing peaks on both sides. It also pass­es by relics and ruins of old min­ing days, when these val­leys echoed with the sounds of picks and drills.

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Dining & Nightlife View All

Just a 45-minute dri­ve from Anchor­age, Raven’s Perch lies with­in the main lodge at the cozy Knik Riv­er Lodge, with big win­dows and an out­door deck look­ing out to a spec­tac­u­lar view. The focus here is on local, sus­tain­able ingre­di­ents and prod­ucts. The staff talks with local farm­ers and plans ahead to see what veg­eta­bles are com­ing into sea­son to cre­ate their menus.

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Cross Country Skiing View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

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