Anchorage to Valdez Driving Map

The drive from Anchorage to Valdez takes 6 to 7 hours on average. But, there are many scenic vistas and unique places to stop along the way making it easy to spend more than 6 hours on the road. You will have views of several mountain ranges, glaciers, and more. Below we have highlighted some of the best points of interest along the way.

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Driving Guide

Anchorage to Glennallen

Season: Mid May– Early September $30+ day rentals 1+ day rentals

Whether it’s kayak­ing, canoe­ing, or pad­dle­board­ing, you’ll find top-flight equip­ment for rent at AK Paddlesports

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Who can say no to a cool water­fall only a half-hour’s dri­ve from town? One of the most pop­u­lar first hikes” for fam­i­lies with small chil­dren, the one-mile trail to Thun­der­bird Falls tra­vers­es a hand­some birch for­est along the Eklut­na Riv­er canyon to reach a deck with views of a 200-foot water­fall. Dur­ing win­ter, the falls can freeze, form­ing fab­u­lous columns of blue ice.

Dat­ing back to 1650, the park is the area’s old­est con­tin­u­ous­ly inhab­it­ed Athabaskan set­tle­ment. View the col­or­ful Spir­it Hous­es built over the graves of the deceased, along with an Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian Cross — a cus­tom that came from the meld­ing of the cultures.

The camp­ground is pret­ty open, since bark bee­tles killed the big, old spruce trees. The camp­sites attract RVers and campers, and each of the 24 sites has a fire ring and pic­nic table. There’s potable water at a hand pump. 

Difficulty: Easy

Look­ing to break up your dri­ve with a jog or bike ride? This lit­tle-used, 2‑mile sec­tion of the for­mer Glenn High­way has lit­tle to no traf­fic. Rocks and shrubs are creep­ing onto the road sur­face in places. It’s qui­et, scenic, and hilly. The road­way is offi­cial­ly closed in the mid­dle but easily-passable. 

The Matanus­ka State Park is the best place for a free view of the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er. You won’t be able to walk up to the glac­i­er (that’s at Mile 102 and is $30 per per­son), but this well-devel­oped site (wihch is also con­nect­ed to the near­by RV Park) offers plen­ty of park­ing, pub­lic restrooms, and excel­lent glac­i­er views and pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties. You’ll also find: A half-dozen inter­pre­tive signs about glac­i­ers, ice crea­tures, spruce bark…  ...more

It’s only a small pull-out on the side of the high­way, but this is the clos­est view­point of the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er. If you don’t have a pow­er­ful zoom on your cam­era, or just want to get a great look at the ice, this is the spot. There’s only room for about six cars and the feel is a bit more rus­tic than the offi­cial state rec site a mile to the west, but you’ll be perched on a bluff over­look­ing the glac­i­er. Dis­tance 103.3 miles north of…  ...more

Season: Mid-May to Mid-September $160+ 3 hrs to full day excursions

There’s climb­ing a moun­tain – and then there’s climb­ing an ICE moun­tain. Regard­less of your climb­ing abil­i­ty or expe­ri­ence, you’ll end the day feel­ing ful­filled and inspired. MICA also offers short, guid­ed hikes and longer treks if you pre­fer a more leisure­ly explore of the glac­i­er and its grandeur.

Difficulty: Difficult

Lion’s Head is famous through­out the state. This rock out­crop­ping is the promi­nent fea­ture beside the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er and is fea­tured in mag­a­zines and adver­tise­ments all over Alas­ka. And you can hike it! You’ve got to be in good shape and ready for a scram­bling, one-hour climb. You’ll be reward­ed by great views, look­ing down a 2,000-foot cliff face to the glac­i­er. You’re panora­ma will include views of the Matanus­ka Riv­er, Cari­bou Creek with…  ...more

South-fac­ing slopes can con­cen­trate large num­bers of sheep that are espe­cial­ly vis­i­ble after green-up in the spring. Lodges in the area pro­vide spot­ting scopes and good advice, and there are sev­er­al pull­outs and trail­heads with safe parking.

Peo­ple love to pull off here and shoot a pho­to beside this clas­sic sign. A local the­o­ry on the creek name is that the crusty, old sour­dough who lived down near the creek used mules for guid­ing hunts. These mules pur­port­ed­ly escaped a lot, so the ass­es were always by the creek. Who knows? But it’s a clas­sic pho­to for the friends back home.

Just south of the Cari­bou Creek bridge near mile mark­er 104 on the Glenn High­way in the shad­ow of the Lion’s Head rock for­ma­tion, look for the turnoff for the Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Min­ing Area. You are not going to get fab­u­lous­ly rich here and be the next star of the TV real­i­ty show Gold Rush, but you do have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to car­ry a gold pan and shov­el, hike the steep half-mile-long trail down to the creek, and pan for gold.

Some 15,000 years ago, this glac­i­er reached anoth­er 50 miles west to the Palmer area. It now has a four-mile wide tow­er­ing face that you can walk right up to and touch. Keep an eye out for sum­mer­time ice-climbers at this most impres­sive road­side glac­i­er. Direc­tions: Head north from Anchor­age on the Glenn High­way. At mile 102, you can dri­ve down to Glac­i­er Park (8882534480), then hike 15 – 20 min­utes to the face of glacier.Distance: 102 miles  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

Climb to the sum­mit of Belanger Pass, bike an all-day loop to Cari­bou Creek or off-road in a four-wheel­er or ATV. This pub­lic access area is a gate­way to adven­ture in the rolling tun­dra and alpine ridges of Belanger Pass and Syn­cline Moun­tain. The hike to the top of Belanger Pass is 90 min­utes, fol­low­ing an old, rut­ted road. You can also bike this, fol­low­ing the Min­ing Road Trail for an all-day, 35 mile ride to Syn­cline Moun­tain and Caribou…  ...more

This is one of Alaska’s pre­mier recre­ation mec­cas. You’ll see lots of big-boy toys around Eure­ka Sum­mit: RVs or big trucks pulling trail­ers with ATVs or brand new snow machines. This sum­mit receives sev­er­al feet of snow each win­ter, and rugged trails open access to the ter­rain dur­ing sum­mer. Eure­ka Sum­mit is the high­est point along the Glenn Highway.

Even though black spruce forests look sick­ly, they’re actu­al­ly healthy trees. Their shal­low roots spread over per­mafrost, so they grow slow­ly. Soil above the per­mafrost melts and freezes, buck­ling the ground and mak­ing the trees tip. This stand might’ve sprout­ed around the same time as World War I, or even ear­li­er. Maybe back when there were only ten miles of paved roads in the entire country.

Glennallen to Valdez

Just out­side Glen­nallen you’ll find some great views of the Cop­per Riv­er and the Wrangell Moun­tains, as well as the chance to take some pho­tos that don’t include any roads or build­ings. Mt. Drum will be straight in front of you, with Mt. San­ford on the left side, and Mt. Wrangell— a mas­sive shield vol­cano — on the right. Cloud cov­er is the only way you’ll miss this dra­mat­ic scene. And these moun­tains are def­i­nite­ly dra­mat­ic. The western…  ...more

Season: Mid-May to Mid-Sept $199+ per night

This inti­mate, 85-room lodge with amaz­ing views is the per­fect place to stay on the way to Amer­i­ca’s largest nation­al park, Wrangell-St. Elias. Look out your win­dow to the junc­tion of the Kluti­na and Cop­per Rivers, 200 acres of wilder­ness, and the park’s awe-inspir­ing mountains.

His­toric Cop­per Cen­ter is one of the old­est non-native com­mu­ni­ties in Alaska’s Inte­ri­or. Found­ed as a gov­ern­ment agri­cul­tur­al exper­i­men­tal sta­tion, it lat­er served as a trans­porta­tion cen­ter for gold rush prospec­tors. Also find the inter­pre­tive sign where you’ll learn about the local fish species that make their home in dif­fer­ent habi­tat nich­es of Cop­per Riv­er water­shed creeks and rivers.

Trav­el­ing the Richard­son High­way south of Glen­nallen, you will pass Wil­low Lake with spec­tac­u­lar views of the lake and the Wrangell Moun­tain vol­ca­noes in the dis­tance. Read about how ancient Lake Atna once filled the area you’re dri­ving through and shaped the Cop­per Riv­er valley.

The moun­tain range you see at this point is over 50 miles away. Mt. Drum (12,010 ft.) is the near­est peak; Mt. Wrangell (14,163 ft.) is a semi-active vol­cano to the east; Mt. San­ford (16,237 ft.) is part­ly hid­den and Mt. Black­burn (16,390 ft) is the tallest of the four major peaks. The Wrangell Range is over 5,000 square miles, and has 12 peaks above 10,000 ft. This is a great pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ty on a clear day, the moun­tain range reflects off…  ...more

Pump Sta­tion No. 12. This is the last of 11 pump sta­tions locat­ed along the Trans-Alas­ka Pipeline. There is no Pump Sta­tion No. 11. Only 6 pump sta­tions are used to move oil today. These pumps move the oil through the 800 mile-long pipeline from Prud­hoe Bay to Valdez. Most sta­tions have three gas-tur­bine-dri­ven main­line pumps. Each pump can move 22,000 gal­lons of oil a minute, that’s 754,000 bar­rels a day.

This one cab­in is all that’s left of the old Tiekal Moun­tain Road­house (not to be con­fused with the Tiekal Lodge a few miles north.)

Alpine tun­dra often brings unim­ped­ed views, easy walk­ing, and an inde­scrib­able light­ness of being. It also usu­al­ly requires sev­er­al hours of hik­ing to reach. But what if you could skip the exhaust­ing hike and just dri­ve there? The Thomp­son Pass is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty, rain or shine, to take advan­tage of easy access to this spe­cial envi­ron­ment — make the time for a stop. There are spots to pull over on either side of the road-cut that marks the…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Bridal Veil Falls and the Valdez Goat Trail: This two-mile-long hike is a restored sec­tion of the Trans-Alas­ka Mil­i­tary Pack-train Trail that was the first glac­i­er-free route from Valdez to the inte­ri­or of Alas­ka. There’s a fan­tas­tic over­look about a mile down the trail.

This pic­turesque fall is fed by snow and ice melt and emp­ties into the Lowe Riv­er after flow­ing under the road. There is a road­side pull­out next to the water­fall that pro­vides easy view­ing of the falls.

This was the orig­i­nal port and city of Valdez. The city was moved to its cur­rent loca­tion 4 miles down the road after it was dev­as­tat­ed by the 1964 Good Fri­day Earthquake.

If you’ve yet to set eyes on an ice­berg, this is your chance: Gor­geous Valdez Glac­i­er Lake is often home to large chunks of float­ing ice that have calved off from the Valdez Glac­i­er. Appre­ci­ate the chunks of ice from shore, or join a guid­ed kayak expe­di­tion to pad­dle around the ice

Oper­at­ed by the U.S. For­est Ser­vice and open only in sum­mer­time, it’s staffed by guides who can help you under­stand the area. There’s also a stream that runs thick with pink and chum salmon when they return each sum­mer to spawn. Thanks to a foot­bridge over the stream and the clear Alaskan water, it’s easy to see the fish. (The best view­ing is from mid-July through Octo­ber.) You may also see black bears, who come to feast on the fish.

Season: May 17 - Sept 15 $162+ 6 or 7.5 hrs

This fam­i­ly-run com­pa­ny oper­at­ing out of Valdez will show you the best glac­i­ers, with great cus­tomer ser­vice along the way. On any giv­en day trip you’ll like­ly see huge rafts of sea otters, horned and tuft­ed puffins, cor­morants, hump­back whales, or even bald eagles. Stan Stephens offers two dai­ly tours, one of which fea­tures Colum­bia Glac­i­er, the largest tide­wa­ter glac­i­er in South­cen­tral Alaska.

The muse­um por­trays the com­mu­ni­ty’s unique and col­or­ful his­to­ry from Euro­pean explo­ration in the 1700s to con­tem­po­rary oil trans­porta­tion. Per­ma­nent exhibits are accent­ed by tem­po­rary exhi­bi­tions of arts and crafts. Major arti­facts include a 19th cen­tu­ry Fres­nel Light­house Lens, a beau­ti­ful­ly restored 1907 Ahrens Con­ti­nen­tal” steam fire engine and a com­pan­ion 1880s Glea­son & Bai­ley hand-pumped fire engine, salt­wa­ter aquar­i­ums with the…  ...more

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