Discover what Valdez is known for
With immense scenery and small-town charm, Valdez offers visitors a broad range of experiences. Situated on the shores of Prince William Sound, Valdez is famous for its fishing, glaciers, waterfalls, and extreme winter sports. This town is a see-it-to-believe-it kind of place. You’ve got to discover Valdez for yourself.
Discover Valdez Attractions
World-Famous Glaciers Await You
Nothing prepares you for the magnitude and splendor of glaciers. Valdez has five major glaciers within striking distance. You’ll be wowed by the proximity of Worthington Glacier as you drive the Richardson Highway through Thompson Pass. Kayak across Valdez Glacier Lake to get up close to Valdez Glacier. Gigantic Columbia Glacier, Meares Glacier, and Shoup Glacier are all accessible via day cruises on Prince William Sound from Valdez.
Experience Wildlife Viewing near Valdez
Valdez wildlife tours provide a unique combination of sightseeing, wildlife viewing, and scenery in the beautiful waters of Prince William Sound. Or you might just come across a bear fishing its own salmon lunch near Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery. For a chance to see harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, humpback or orca whales, porpoise, eagles, puffins, cormorants and more, join a day cruise departing daily in the summer from Valdez Harbor.
Explore Eight Awe-Inspiring Waterfalls near Valdez
If you drive to Valdez on the scenic Richardson Highway you will notice a particularly spectacular section in Keystone Canyon with magnificent geology and fascinating history. Here, Horsetail and Bridal Veil Falls cascade over towering canyon walls to the Lowe River in the valley floor. See other waterfalls around Valdez on our many hiking trails. Look for the Gold Creek waterfall along Shoup Bay Trail or the Horsetail Creek Falls by the washout on Mineral Creek Trail or waterfalls cascading through Solomon Gulch on the John Hunter Memorial Trail.
Get To Know Valdez’s Rich History
For millennia the Ahtna, Alutiiq, and Eyak have all lived in the greater territory surrounding Valdez. Although this area was never permanently inhabited before the town was founded by white settlers, Alaska Native people of this region used Valdez as a favorite place to hunt, fish, gather, and trade. Valdez is the ancestral land of the Suacit. The name is an Alutiiq/Sugpiat word understood to mean, “people of the place that rises into view.
The town of Valdez was first established as a base for gold prospectors in 1898 but didn’t flourish until a year later with the construction of the Richardson Highway connecting it to Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska.
Valdez suffered catastrophic damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Both of these events have inspired hope and resilience in local residents. Valdez remains one of the most important commercial fishing and freight ports in Alaska, not to mention one of its most beloved tourist destinations.
Discover Valdez Trip Ideas
Visitors to Valdez enjoy the abundance that nature provides, be it from the riches of Prince William Sound or the stunning Chugach Mountains. Numerous hotels and restaurants serve out-of-town guests between fishing charters and wildlife and glacier cruises. Outdoorsy types enjoy hiking, camping, rafting, and rock climbing as well as world-class snowmobiling, heli-skiing, and ice-climbing in winter. Others choose the calm of informative museums or the excitement of helicopter tours. RVers revel in our picturesque end-of-the-road location nestled between the mountains and sea. Read more about Valdez itinerary ideas.
To help you plan your visit and make the most of your time, we’ve listed a range of our favorite destinations and activities. As you’ll discover, there’s no shortage of ways to fill your days and nights in Valdez - from a quiet walk in pristine nature to the rush and adrenaline of adventure sports. See you at one of our many annual events, out on the trail, or enjoying fresh seafood in one of our fantastic restaurants!