Alaska June 11, 2017
6 Amazing Alaska Glaciers You Can Drive Right Up To
Glaciers are moving rivers of ice created by compacted snow and prolonged cold temperatures. As you can imagine, glaciers are tucked all over Alaska in the mountain ranges. Seeing the remarkable blue glow of the glaciers interior and hearing the crackle of the moving ice is an amazing experience. Most glaciers in Alaska require a long hike, a chartered flight or a boat cruise to get up close to them. These 6 roadside glaciers are amazing, beautiful and accessible to everyone.
1. Exit Glacier, near Seward
About 125 miles south of Anchorage, take the clearly marked turnoff at the Seward Highway at Mile 3.7. To get to the glacier, head down the nine mile road, which turns into gravel half way. There is a short walking trail to the face of the glacier. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there is a short ranger-led walk daily at 11 PM and 3 PM.
2. Middle Glacier, near Anchorage
Not very large, this hanging glacier dangles from the mountains in the Chugach National Forest. Go south from Anchorage on the Seward Highway and along the 5-mile Portage Spur Road to see these glaciers on the south side of the road, halfway from the Seward Highway to Portage Lake.
3. Matanuska Glacier, near Anchorage
Go north from Anchorage on the Glenn Highway and at Mile 102, you can drive down to Glacier Park. (There is a day use fee, just so you are prepared.) There is a 15-20 minute hike to the face of glacier. Once there you can touch and explore the 4 mile wide face of the glacier. You might see some ice climbers exploring this accessible glacier face.
4. Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau
Easily findable from Juneau, take Egan Drive and turn right at Mendenhall Loop Road. Mendenhall Loop Road turns into Glacier Spur Road and ends at the visitor center. This glacier is part of the Tongass National Forest and its visitors’ center is just a half mile from the glacier’s face. There are a wide variety of trails for every skill level available.
5. Worthington Glacier, near Valdez
Worthington Glacier is found along Thompson Pass at 28.7 Mile of the Richardson Hwy, the snowiest place in the state of Alaska, and 28 miles northeast of Valdez. This glacier hasn't retreated as much as others due to this fact. There is a short, paved hike to a viewing platform.
6. Child's Glacier, near Cordova
Technically you can't get to the town of Cordova without traveling by boat or plane, but once there the Child's Glacier is accessible by road. Drive right up and watch this glacier calve in which giant pieces of ice fall with an enormous crash. The Child's Glacier is 400 yards across the river from the viewing platform as well, but it is the only one you can drive to and see calving. In summer when the activity is highest, a major calving event occurs every 15 minutes!
Have you been to any of these glaciers? Tell us about in the comments below.