Just Returned From → Baffin Island, Nunavut. Headed To → Zoagli, Italy.

Ice-Walking the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska

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Join me on an exploration of the largest vehicle-accessible glacier in the United States.

In This Alaska Travel Article You Will Discover:

  • How to Find a Massive Glacier
  • Day-Tour Options
  • Stunning Icy Imagery
  • Travel Tips & Info

Alaska is a knockout. The natural environments throughout this leviathan state are cranked-up to 11; exaggerated to impress.

Ragged mountain peaks stab upwards to 5,000 metres or more. Wave-sculpted shorelines merge the lushness of the Pacific Northwest with the wilderness of the True North. Aurora borealis dances overhead; tundra expands endlessly to into the Arctic. Omnipresent wildlife—moose, bears, caribou, wolves—serve as reminders that humans are the interlopers in the frontier state.

Take the Matanuska Glacier, for example. This slow-moving tongue of ice stretches more than 40 kilometres into the Chugach Mountains from alongside Alaska’s Glenn Highway. It’s a Valley Glacier—a river of ice that has been sliding betwixt massifs for 10,000 years. At its widest point, it’s about six kilometres in breadth. It moves slowly, about 30 centimetres per day, edging forward then melting back.

Located 160 kilometres from Anchorage, it’s the largest car-accessible glacier in America. And it’s easy to get up-close-and-personal with, like I did last September.

(Yeah, I’ve been waiting a while to post this. Summer is glacier-walk season.)

Follow me on a tour of the Matanuska Glacier—one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in a state absolutely rife with them.

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Slow moving, slow melting—this is the Matanuska Glacier.

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Helmets? Check. Crampons? Check. Let’s go!

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Do you trust your crampons?

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How deep? Who knows…

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The terrain changes abruptly; something I love about the North.

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We thought at first this was water. It’s ice.

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The striations in the ice were my favourite feature.

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Kind of an obligatory shot. (We all did it.)

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Our guide was actually getting grumpy with us here. (Like, yeah, we wanna stop for photos. Can I live?)

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My choice? Go in the autumn. The juxtaposition of colours is beautiful.

Interested? Click to Salmon Berry Tours. Stop for a burger and a beer at Long Rifle Lodge afterwards. The dining room overlooks the ice and they have rooms for rent as well, if you’re road-tripping further afield.

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

2 comments… add one
  • David Webb Aug 10, 2017

    It could easily start to snow there in October. These photos were taken in September—no new snow, but lots of ice!

  • Alaska is on my bucket list for a while now and your post is so motivational, David! Is there snow in autumn?

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