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Top Spots to Kayak in Valdez, Alaska

Kayaking is one of the premier outdoor sports in and around Valdez, so it's no wonder that first-time visitors and repeat adventurers alike would be looking to wet a paddle in majestic Prince William Sound or in one of our iconic freshwater Alaskan lakes. Check out these locations and tours available in Valdez.

Valdez Glacier Lake

Kayaking amongst the icebergs in Valdez Glacier Lake is one of the most iconic experiences in Valdez. The lake is often flush with icebergs that have calved off of Valdez Glacier, and the area was the part of the "All American Route" into the goldfields during the 1898 goldrush. The lake is easily accessible at the end of Airport Road, just a few minutes drive out of town; free parking is available at Glacier View Park along the lakeshore. 

While the lake is open for independent kayakers to explore on their own, caution is strongly advised, as icebergs are often unstable. For a safer experience, explore Valdez Glacier Lake with an experienced local kayak guide. Kayak tours of the lake are offered during the summer through  Anadyr Adventures and take a few hours. 

kayakers paddling in a glacial lakePhoto by Jiyeon Juno Kim

The Duck Flats

Exploring the Valdez Duck Flats by kayak is a must-do for birdwatchers and other wildlife lovers, as well as those who want a shorter trip to paddle along Valdez's coastal scenery. The Duck Flats are a saltwater marsh that serves as a habitat for bird species like bald eagles, oystercatchers, and Arctic terns. Other animals frequent the Flats as well, including sea otters, seals, and salmon. 

The Duck Flats run right along Valdez's downtown harbor area, and kayak tours of the Flats are available during the summer with Pangaea Adventures. The trip is suitable for beginners and the itinerary takes about three hours. 

a kayaker on a wetland area

Photo from Pangaea Adventures

Robe Lake

Kayaking on Robe Lake is a more scenic option for independent paddlers. Robe Lake is located about 10 miles outside of town in a more secluded setting. The area offers viewing opportunities for larger wildlife such as moose or black bears. Visitors can explore Robe Lake by renting kayaks from a local business, Valdez Electric Bike & Kayak Rentals; the kayak rental includes a life vest and instruction. Other rental options include pet life vests and foam pads for transportation. 

a kayaker on a lake

Photo from Valdez Electric Bike & Kayak Rentals

Shoup Bay

Kayakers who'd like to combine opportunities for glacier and wildlife viewing into one trip will love Shoup Bay. The bay is home to the largest kittiwake rookery in Prince William Sound and offers up-close viewing of the face of Shoup Glacier

Kayaking daytrips to Shoup Bay are offered through Pangaea Adventures and Anadyr Adventures and last about 8 hours. The trips include water-taxi service from the Valdez Boat Harbor to Shoup Bay, and take about an hour either way, allowing for sightseeing opportunities along the way. 

a kayaker paddling in front of a tidewater glacier

Photo by Jiyeon Juno Kim

Sawmill Bay

"Sawmill Bay is one of the most peaceful and surprising places we go. Every trip, a new gift. On one morning paddle we listened to a loon when we left the boat, and then again as we returned," Aurelia Charters

Travelers seeking a truly remote location to experience the Alaskan wilderness should consider Sawmill Bay. There is no road or trail access into the bay, though service to the area is provided by local boat charters and kayak tours out of Valdez. Sawmill Bay is great for berry picking and viewing wildlife such as bears and returning salmon. Tours to Sawmill Bay are offered during the summer by Aurelia Charters and by Anadyr Adventures.

a tandem kayak in a remote bay

Photo from Aurelia Charters

Columbia Bay

Kayaking in Columbia Bay is a once in a lifetime experience you won't want to miss. Adventurous paddlers can maneuver their way among icebergs that have calved off the face of the mighty Columbia Glacier, the second largest tidewater glacier in North America. Columbia is in a retreating phase, so there are always plenty of icebergs. 

Full day trips to Columbia Bay are offered through Anadyr and Pangaea; Columbia is deep in the heart of Prince William Sound, so taxiing to the bay takes about two and a half hours either way, allowing for plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife like humpback or orca whales. 

Three kayaks rest on shore in Columbia Bay

Photo by Kaden Addler

Discover More

Planning a kayak trip around Valdez or Prince William Sound? Check out these great resources:

What to wear on your kayaking trip! from Anadyr Adventures