|Anchorage||6 - 7||1|
|Fairbanks||7.5 - 8|
How Long to Spend
Gorgeous, full of life and a story to tell: Valdez is proof that you can have rough patches in your past but still look better than ever.
This Gold Rush town—located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound—suffered huge damage during the 1964 earthquake, but it’s probably most famous for the Exxon oil tanker that had its massive spill here in 1989.
Today you likely won’t see any evidence of the spill—plant and animal life have nicely rebounded since the clean-up. It’s home to a wide range of wildlife, from sea otters and puffins to humpback whales, and plenty of bald eagles flying overhead.
- Great Glacier Cruises: While it may not get as much attention as Seward or Whittier, Valdez—with five nearby glaciers— is an excellent starting point for day cruises. Besides the glaciers themselves, this side of Prince William Sound actually has a lot more wildlife than the Whittier side. Plus, it also has extremely calm waters, which you can’t always count on from glacier cruises out of Seward.
- Water sports: The Sound and the nearby rivers make for excellent rafting and kayaking, while Valdez is also a locals’ favorite for fishing, offering every kind of salmon, huge halibut and lots of competitive fishing derbies.
- Winter Sports: In the winter, the neighboring Chugach mountains get 600 to 900 inches of snow, perfect for snowcat and heli-skiing, as well as snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Or, strap on ice-climbing gear and make your way up a frozen waterfall.
While Valdez is easily accessible by water, a lot of people get here by making it a stop on a popular and amazingly scenic road trip—considered one of the best in Alaska.
- Drive: You can drive from Anchorage to Glenallen on the Glenn Highway (4.5 hours), then down the Richardson Highway to Valdez—just another 2 hours. One popular itinerary is to explore the Matanuska Glacier and overnight at Sheep Mountain Lodge the first day, then continue on to Valdez the next day.
- Ferry: After the drive, a lot of people take their car on the ferry to Whittier, than back up to Anchorage. But you can also come or go from Valdez using the Prince William Sound to Kodiak route on the Alaska Marine Highway.
- Fly: It's a 45-minute flight from Anchorage on RavnAir, who offers daily service. Expect amazing views of Prince William Sound, jagged mountain peaks and glaciers. Weather in Valdez can be unpredictable, which can ground or delay your flight. Due to this, it’s always best to leave a day in between your return back to Anchorage and your flight back home.