Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Harvesting glacier ice

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More on Glacier viewing

Glaciers Galore

Exit Glacier, in Kenai Fjords National Park, provides a stunning backdrop for a group of picnickers. The glacier, just outside of Seward, is accessible by car and then by foot. Entrance to the park by car costs $5.

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.

Harvesting glacier ice

Anyone can harvest ice from Alaska's 28,800 square miles of glaciers.

Ice worms on the glacier

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.

Why is glacier ice blue?

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

Worthington Glacier is an easy-off, easy-on stop at Mile 28 of the Richardson Highway northeast of Valdez.

Anyone can harvest ice from Alaska's 28,800 square miles of glaciers.

People or companies -- say, water bottlers -- wanting to harvest Alaska's glaciers must apply for a permit if they plan to take away more than 20 tons a year.

People without permits can take up to about 700 cubic feet a year, which is the same volume as a Dodge cargo van. Ice weighs a little over 57 pounds per cubic foot. How they get it home is up to them.

Glacier ice is now harvested from glaciers that calve into tidewater, according to the Division of Mining, Land and Water of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. Many of the state's 100,000 glaciers are inaccessible, practically speaking.

The state permit grants a right to the water that makes up the ice. Not every glacier is fair game, and a permit isn't to be granted if the harvest would interfere with the rights of other users, such as wildlife, fish and humans.

An estimated 75 percent of Alaska's fresh water is stored in glaciers, the state says.

The application fee is $500, and there's an annual administrative charge of $50. Permit seekers must also announce the plans in a legal ad in a newspaper distributed close to the proposed harvest site.

Sources: Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water; Edmunds.com.

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