A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Fairbanks: -4°/11°/Mostly cloudy
Some glaciers you can literally reach out and touch, some you can walk on or climb across and some you want to observe from a very safe distance. Here are a few of the top ice capades around Southcentral Alaska.
Anyone can harvest ice from Alaska's 28,800 square miles of glaciers.
ON THE LEARNARD GLACIER -- Dusk was falling in a bowl above the entrance to the car-and-train tunnel at Whittier, and the ice worms were rising.
Glaciers are created when decades upon decades of snow compact themselves into ice. As the ice crystals grow, they push out the air.
Worthington Glacier is an easy-off, easy-on stop at Mile 28 of the Richardson Highway northeast of Valdez.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park gives an icy greeting
Kennicott Glacier pours down from Mount Blackburn in the Wrangell Mountains, absorbs Root Glacier and passes the old copper-mining town of Kennicott and halts near the semighost town of McCarthy.
The glacier has collected centuries of moraine, which covers the lower eight or so miles of the ice, including the part that slides past Kennicott itself.
The Kennicott's rock-covered terminus, looming perhaps 50 feet above the rocky riverbed, is just upriver from the parking lot at the end of the McCarthy Road.
Although the terminus can be viewed from the western side of the Kennicott River, you can get closer by crossing the swift and silty river on the footbridge and following an easy trail up from McCarthy.
Better views and accessibility require the effort of walking or riding the five miles to Kennicott and then hiking upvalley along the Root. A slow lunch on the porch of the Kennicott Glacier Lodge is a fine way to watch the crackling glacier crawl by.
Root Glacier boasts an icefall and glaring white ice, a sharp contrast to the Kennicott's buff and gray coat.
McCarthy is 58 miles east of Chitina, which is at the end of the Edgerton Highway (10) 33 miles east of the Richardson Highway (4). Access past Chitina is via the old Copper River ∧ Northwestern Railway grade, which makes for a bumpy ride over sharp rocks. Although tire repairs are available, having an extra spare will reassure many drivers.
Glacier hiking and flightseeing tours are available in the park. Cruise ships sometimes visit the park's tidewater glaciers.
Wrangell-St. Elias is also the home of the enormous Bering, Malaspina, Hubbard, Nabesna, Yahtse and Guyot glaciers (among many others) and the Bagley Icefield.