Explore Glaciers Near Valdez
Visitors looking to experience the grandeur of glaciers on their next trip to Alaska should set their sights on Valdez. Located in Southcentral Alaska, Valdez is situated between the towering Chugach Mountains and bountiful Prince William Sound.
There are a variety of ways to experience both tidewater and valley glaciers, as well as options for every budget. Read further to learn how to get to these glaciers and when and where to see a glacier near Valdez.
Alaska Glaciers you can Visit without Taking a Cruise
Worthington Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. Located in Thompson Pass along the Richardson Highway, this glacier is unmissable if you are driving to or from Valdez. The glacier may be seen from the road while driving, or you may opt to stop at the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site to walk to the glacier for an up-close experience.
The Recreation Site is located at Milepost 29 on the Richardson Highway and is open until closed by winter snow and ice conditions.
Note: Worthington Glacier also has a wheelchair-accessible trail.
Valdez Glacier is located on the outskirts of town and includes a tale of human history as well as natural beauty. Known as the All-American Route, gold seekers traveled over Valdez Glacier into the interior of Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1898. Recent years of retreat have resulted in Valdez Glacier moving out of sight from the parking area and now requires a kayak in the summertime to view the glacier face.
In winter, when the glacial lake is sufficiently frozen, you can hike, snowshoe, ski, or fat bike across the ice to see the glacier as well as the stunning icebergs and ice caves that have frozen into the lake. Valdez Glacier is an excellent option in either season.
To get to Valdez Glacier, take Airport Road out to Valdez Glacier Lake. Kayak tours of Valdez Glacier and Valdez Glacier Lake are available with our local Valdez kayak guides.
Shoup Glacier is tucked away in Shoup Bay and is accessible by boat, kayak, and helicopter or on foot. Experienced hikers can take the 8.5-mile hike to Shoup Bay for fabulous views. Alternatively, visit Shoup Glacier on a combo boat and kayak tour. This is an amazing way to get up close to the face of a glacier.
Hogback Ridge is a mountain ridge located in the Chugach Mountains just outside of Valdez along the Lowe River. Hogback Glacier (sometimes called Hogsback Glacier) is located on the ridge. Snowmelt and glacial melt from Hogback Ridge feed Horsetail Falls and the Lowe River.
Hogback Ridge may be viewed from the Richardson Highway when driving to or from Valdez. The ridge may also be viewed from Thompson Pass via the Thompson Pass Pack Trail. Viewing access to Hogback Glacier is available via the "Out of Town" Trail system.
Alaska Glaciers You Can View from a Cruise
Columbia Glacier is one of the largest tidewater glaciers in North America and the largest in Prince William Sound. Impressive any way you look at it. To see the remote Columbia Glacier, you have to take a cruise or travel by helicopter. Joining a day cruise from Valdez is by far the most popular way to experience Columbia Glacier.
Cruises out of Valdez operate every summer for the entirety of the summer. As an added bonus, many of these glacier cruises also see wildlife such as sea birds, various marine mammals, and occasionally whales!
Meares Glacier is unique among local glaciers. While most glaciers throughout the world are retreating, Meares Glacier is actually advancing. It is one of the few advancing tidewater glaciers in North America. Witness the thundering force of nature as seracs calve off the face of the glacier, falling to the sea below to form icebergs. Meares Glacier is furthest from Valdez, so join a Prince William Sound glacier cruise with this as the final destination. Summer is the only season day cruises operate.
Anderson Glacier is situated in the Chugach Mountains around Port Valdez. Look for it at the western end of Port Valdez, near the Valdez Narrows. It feeds Anderson Falls, an impressively long waterfall. Viewing Anderson Glacier is not possible by road or hiking trail but only via glacier cruise. Your cruise narrator will point out Anderson Glacier as you sail past.
Brilliant Glacier is located within Unakwik Inlet in Prince William Sound. The easiest way to view Brilliant Glacier is by taking a glacier cruise out of Valdez. Any day cruise heading out to Meares Glacier will pass by Brilliant Glacier along the way. Summer is the best time for viewing Brilliant Glacier and the only time of year glacier cruises run.
Visiting 8 Glaciers Near Valdez
With our spectacular natural location in Southcentral Alaska, we are blessed with access to eight magnificent glaciers. Visitors can drive to Worthington Glacier and walk the paved path to the incredible vantage point. Or take a glacier and wildlife cruise or kayaking expedition to get an up-close encounter with some of the largest and most picturesque tidewater glaciers in Prince William Sound, like Meares Glacier, Columbia Glacier, and Shoup Glacier. Helicopter tours offer yet another way of glacier viewing for visitors to have an unforgettable trip.