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Keystone Canyon

When driving into Valdez, you will pass through Keystone Canyon. It is a place of spectacular waterfalls, magnificent geology and fascinating history. Keystone Canyon is located at miles 14 through 17 on the Richardson Highway. For all you thrill seekers, Keystone Canyon is the place for you. You can raft or kayak the Lowe River. You can also climb the magnificent, steep-sided, rock walls. During the winter the canyon is a popular place for ice climbing. For those of you who prefer to keep your feet on the ground, the Valdez Goat Trail is a great place to hike. It is located at mile 13.5 in Keystone Canyon and begins at the Bridal Veil Falls turnout. 

Don't forget to take along your camera to capture the scenic waterfalls on film. The best-known falls are Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

How To Get There

Take the Richardson Highway from either Valdez or Glennallen. 

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Winter

The drive into Valdez along the Richardson Highway features a mesmerizing stretch about a mile long through Keystone Canyon. In the summer, the scenic canyon offers beautiful photo opportunities with two major waterfalls, Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. But in the winter, the rushing waters transform into gigantic walls of shear ice.

On a windy day, cold air whips through the corridor and stings the cheeks and nose. But on a calm day, the canyon is peacefully quiet and one can enjoy the majestic ice sculptures that are nature’s work of art. Mild temperatures combined with relatively easily accessible climbs make Valdez a perfect location for ice climbing.

History

According to the US Geological Survey, Keystone Canyon was named by Captain W. R. Abercrombie in 1898 after the "Keystone State" of Pennsylvania. 

From 1910 to 1916, copper and gold mining flourished in the Valdez area. There were attempts to build a railroad through the canyon and into the copper country. Rival railroad corporations fought a gun battle in the canyon to secure a right-of-way-north of Valdez. A tunnel, which was built at the time, can still be seen as you drive through the canyon.

an historic photograph of Keystone Canyon

"Keystone Canyon and Wagon Road from Old Trail" by P.S. Hunt

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