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Exploring Valdez, Prince William Sound And The Chugach Mountains.

Valdez is situated on a deepwater fjord in Prince William Sound. The Chugach and Ahtna Ahthabascan people were the first to use the area for fishing and trading.  Valdez was established in 1897 as a base camp for gold prospectors making their way to Interior Alaska and the Klondike.

Visitors traveling north view the Lowe River in historic Keystone Canyon. The sheer canyon walls contain a number of waterfalls and interesting rock formations. Thompson Pass climbs to 2,678 feet, showcasing tundra meadows, numerous lakes, streams, and glaciers.

Together, the three largest hotel properties in Valdez offer over 220 guest rooms. Each hotel is centrally located for easy access to shopping, dining, and attractions. Valdez is just 45 minutes by air from Anchorage.

Marine services in Valdez include the newest Alaskan fast ferry and several private tour and transportation services experienced in transporting cruise passengers between Cordova, Whittier, and Valdez.

There are numerous tours and attractions in Valdezincluding several new adventure tour options.

  • Glacier & wildlife cruises sail to Meares and Columbia Glaciers.
  • Helicopter tours to glaciers, Chugach Mountains, historical sites and more.
  • Kayaking in Prince William Sound or one of several interior rivers.
  • Fishing Charters without the crowds or sightsee many species of wildlife, marine animals, and birds.
  • Raft through the gorgeous Keystone Canyon and see spectacular waterfalls and so much more.
  • Custom Guided Tours, including rock climbing.
  • Scuba Diving in the World's best dive site.

If you're visiting Valdez in winter, add the following activities to your itinerary:

  • Premier Heli and Snowcat Skiing: Valdez and the surrounding Chugach mountains define skiing and boarding. You are sure to find a vast winter wilderness and thousands of long, untracked, wide-open runs.
  • Ice Climbing: Whether top-roping or multi-pitch lead climbing, the dozens of routes around Valdez will become your pathway to adventure.
  • Snowmobiling: Valdez has a full race schedule and an abundance of snow, sure to challenge even the best riders. Our mountains, valleys, and glaciers also offer the ultimate in backcountry snowmachine experiences.
  • Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing: Nordic skiing and show shoeing can be an adventure on either groomed trails or backcountry terrain. Several world-class areas exist in and around Valdez.
  • More Winter suggestions.

Sample Itineraries for Valdez, Alaska

Written by Selah Bauer

Everything most people want to see in Alaska can be seen in Valdez; towering mountains, glaciers, bears, and whales and so much more. Visitors will find themselves surrounded by mountains, nature, culture, and history. In fact, this small town of 3,500 residents has three museums! Valdez has places to eat, play, and stay that will deliver an authentic, unforgettable, Alaskan experience.

Two Night Stay Itinerary.

Day one:

  • Arrive in Valdez after a beautiful drive, flight or ferry ride.
  • Visit one of our delicious restaurants for a late lunch or dinner.
  • Walk around our magnificent town, breathe the fresh air, and take in the beauty of the Chugach Mountains that surround Valdez, or walk along the Small Boat Harbor to see the majesty of the Prince William Sound. You may even see otters, eagles and other wildlife hanging out near the docks.
  • Visit one of our three amazing museums, rich in cultural history, artifacts and art.
  • Choose one of the majestic trails in Valdez to hike on and stretch your legs. Whether you’re looking for a 20-minute leisurely trail or a long hike, the trails in Valdez are rich in natural beauty, waterfalls and incredible views.
  • Get a good night’s rest at one of our local hotels or one of our many B&B’s.

Day two: See the incredible Glaciers and Wildlife…

  • Take a leisurely boat cruise to see glaciers and wildlife. Getting out on the waters of Prince William Sound is highly suggested. Take a breath-taking boat cruise to massive glaciers and watch amazing icebergs crash into the water below. Majestic Orca whales, Humpback whales and various other incredible sea life are frequently seen along the way. Or choose to kayak on local glacial lakes or the incredible Prince William Sound with one of our local Kayaking companies.
  • Consider taking a helicopter ride through parts of the Chugach Mountains that surround Valdez, fly over the Prince William Sound and arrive at the face of incredible glaciers. Wildlife such as mountain goats and bears are frequently seen on these exciting and unforgettable helicopter rides.
  • Get a good night sleep at one of our hotels, B&B, RV Parks, campgrounds, or wilderness lodges.
  • Depart Valdez the next morning with some once-in-a-lifetime memories that you’ll never forget.
Three Night Stay Itinerary:

Day One: Arrive and Explore.

  • Drive to Valdez: Getting to Valdez is part of the fun. Weaving through the mountains and canyons on the Richardson Highway will bring you past unforgettable sightseeing opportunities that include glaciers, waterfalls, and endless snowcapped mountains.
  • Explore the town: Multiple gift shops, museums, and restaurants give you plenty of options to fill an entire day with nonstop activities. Drive to the Valdez Glacier Lake and view icebergs from the comfort of your vehicle. Visit our coastline and watch bears fish along the roadside. Walk along the harbors edge and enjoy the sea otters up close and personal. Visit our City Dock for a chance to see Humpback Whales and Orca’s and other sea life.
  • Take a helicopter ride through parts of the Chugach Mountains that surround Valdez, fly over the Prince William Sound and arrive at the face of incredible glaciers. Wildlife such as mountain goats and bears are frequently seen on this exciting and unforgettable helicopter rides.
  • Get a good night’s rest at one of our local hotels, B&B, RV Parks, campgrounds, or wilderness lodges.

Day two: Get on the Water

  • Take a Boat Cruise to See Glaciers and Wildlife: Getting out on the waters of Prince William Sound is highly suggested. You can take a breath-taking boat cruise to massive glaciers and watch icebergs crash into the water. You have a very good chance of seeing majestic Orca and Humpback whales and various other incredible sea life along the way. You can also kayak on local glacial lakes or the incredible Prince William Sound with one of our local Kayaking companies.
  • Or go fishing. You can take a fishing trip with an experienced charter captain that will make sure you land the big one. Valdez has the best fishing in the state! Or fish from shore and catch some delicious Alaskan fish to cook up for dinner or take back home with you.
  • Get a good night’s rest at one of our local hotels, B&B, RV Parks, campgrounds, or wilderness lodges.

Day three:

  • There is a trail for everyone! Whether you want a half-day, full-day, or a shorter hike that will take you up close to gorgeous waterfalls. You can drive to multiple lakes, rivers, and right along the beach. Bears, eagles and other wildlife are common sights in Valdez. You can also fish from shore, kayak, and pan for gold before you leave Valdez.
  •  Visit one of our three amazing museums, rich in cultural history, artifacts and art.
  • Get a good night’s rest at one of our local hotels, B&B, RV Parks, campgrounds, or wilderness lodges.

Day Four:

  • Eat a heaty breakfast at one of our local restaurants.
  • Depart Valdez with some once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable memories.

Please consider adding a trip to Cordova or/ and Whittier to any itinerary. With frequent ferry service in the summer, and year-round service to all three major coastal Prince William Sound communities, visitors can expand their itinerary to include Cordova or Whittier.

Thank you to Selah Bauer of Copper Valley Telecom for this article.


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The road to Valdez will take you right through Keystone Canyon. Discover more about the canyon's rich history and inspiring natural wonders!

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