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Photo by Gary Minish

Valdez Glacier & Valdez Glacier Lake

Valdez Glacier provides breathtaking sights and a glimpse into the local history and culture of the area. Known as the All- American Route, gold seekers traveled over the glacier into the interior of Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1898.

Valdez Glacier is a 20 mile valley glacier located in the Chugach Mountains and terminates in Valdez. The runoff of this gorgeous glacier is so vast it creates a lake in front of the terminus. During summertime Valdez Glacier Lake becomes a beautiful area to kayak on. Please be sure to wear your lifejacket, as this glacier-fed lake is approximately 640 feet deep. There are various outfitters in Valdez who will guide visitors on kayak tours.

In the winter, Valdez Glacier Lake becomes a frozen wonderland, where massive icebergs form into amazing natural sculptures. Ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, or snowmobiling are also possible on this lake during certain times of the winter. Please be sure to check and make sure this lake is completely frozen before going on it. Safety first and have fun exploring.

a woman touches the frozen walls of a glacier ice cave. Dogs in background.

Valdez Glacier in winter. Photo by Stephen Bugno

How To Get There

Take Airport Road out to Valdez Glacier Lake. Kayak tours of Valdez Glacier and Valdez Glacier Lake are available with our local kayak guides

View more Valdez maps

Safety & Etiquette

City of Valdez: "Aaron Baczuk, city emergency manager, shares details about dangers caused by the July 2020 Valdez Glacier heavy calving and separation event. Valdez Glacier experienced an extreme calving and separation event over the past 24 hours. A significant amount of unstable ice now exists in the lake. Rolling icebergs and underwater calving pose serious danger. For your safety, keep away from all floating ice and the face of the glacier. Observe and follow posted danger signs."

Video from City of Valdez

2021-2022 Safety Update

The City of Valdez released the following safety update on Valdez Glacier Lake on December 23, 2021:

"The City of Valdez recently received reports of underwater calving that penetrated through the frozen lake. Icebergs have also rolled and shifted despite the frozen surface. Conditions in the lake are changing and dynamic.

Water in the lake is constantly flowing from the face of the glacier to the lake’s outflow. This reduces ice thickness in some areas and contributes to unstable ice below the surface. Ice caves may collapse from lack of support or movement. Avoid climbing on ice and be aware of rocks, ice, and snow that may fall from overhead areas.

Blankets of snow may cover crevasses and other hazards. Locations of new ice may cause disorientation when visibility is limited due to weather or darkness, even for those normally familiar with the area. Snow avalanches and rockslides from adjacent mountains also pose a danger to those recreating on the ice and may compromise the lake’s frozen surface.

Please recreate responsibly. Gather information from a variety of sources prior to using Valdez Glacier Lake. Consider risk, weather conditions, and your intended route prior to departure.

If you chose to enjoy the lake, ensure you are prepared. Go with others. Make sure someone at home knows exactly where you are going and when you intend to return. Be realistic with the physical limitations of those in your group. Wear appropriate clothing. Take safety equipment, first aid supplies, and a working communications device in case of emergency, as cell coverage in the area is spotty."

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Gold-seekers crossed Valdez Glacier during the Gold Rush of 1898

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