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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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.

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.

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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.

Many Options for Viewing and Trekking in Southcentral

The ice is nice in Alaska, and particularly so in Southcentral Alaska. Here, glaciers dot the map, dazzling natural history buffs, challenging adventurers, amazing photographers, and wowing folks who simply enjoy watching massive chunks of ice calve and crash to Earth.

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.

Glaciers, by boat

Can’t get enough of that icy stuff? Well, my friend, you will get a severe case of brain freeze when you step onboard a boat and let captains cruise you to dozens of glaciers around the wonderful waters of Prince William Sound. You’ll feel like a tiny drop of water in the ocean of life when the boat pulls up beside one of these massive ice shelves, which can occasionally snap off chunks of ice that are bigger than your car … or house!

Think you can handle more than nearly 30 glaciers in a day? Of course you can! Hop aboard a 26 Glaciers Cruise (800-544-0529, www.26glaciers.com) in Whittier, where your captain will introduce you to Prince William Sound’s finest ice. Major Marine Tours (800-764-7300, www.majormarine.com) is also a popular Prince William Sound glacier viewer.

Most glacier tours cost between $100-$200 for adults and $50-$75 for children. Some include food service; some don’t, so pack accordingly. Always dress warm (it’s cool out on the water, even in the summer), prepare for wet conditions, and pack your camera or binoculars. Glaciers aren’t the only highlight on these cruises: keep your eyes open for whales, orcas, otters, porpoises and an occasional sea lion.

Portage Glacier Cruises (800-544-2206, www.portageglaciercruises.com) operates on a landlocked lake and only offers one glacier in its tour, but it’s a beauty and it’s close to Anchorage: Portage Glacier, which hangs from a cliff and dips its toes into Portage Lake.

Glaciers, by air

You don’t have to be a mountain goat or mountaineer to step foot on the grand glaciers around North America’s biggest peak, Mount McKinley. In fact, a handful of flightseeing operators out of Talkeetna will do the climbing for you, give you bird’s-eye view of McKinley’s peak, then set you down on a glacier for a photo opportunity of a lifetime. Breathe it in – you’re on top of the world, standing on a glacier, enjoying alpine air at its finest and rarest.

A few popular flightseeing tour guides include Talkeetna Air Taxi (800-533-2219, www.talkeetnaair.com), K2 Aviation (800-764-2291, www.flyk2.com), Talkeetna Aero Services (888-733-2899, www.talkeetnaaero.com) and Fly Denali Inc. (866-733-7768, www.flydenali.com).Most trips start at around an hour and $200. Shop around and find the best fit for you and your travel partners.

Glaciers, by train

One of Alaska’s most unique glacier experiences – Spencer Glacier -- is chilling right under Anchorage’s nose in Chugach National Forest.

The only way to get to Spencer Glacier in the summer is on the Alaska Railroad (800-544-0552, alaskarailroad.com), which offers summer whistle stops to the destination just south of Portage. Passengers ride there on the fittingly named Glacier Discovery Route, which rumbles past many hanging glaciers on Turnagain Arm.

But the big star is Spencer. Once the train stops, you have a few hours and a few glacier exploration options: on foot solo or on a guided hike with the U.S. Forest Service; you can do some ice climbing, hiking, canoeing or rafting with one of the adventure operators set up in the area; or you can just sit back and watch it sparkle from afar.

Fares start around $100 for adults; add on more money and more adventure if you join guides from Ascending Path (www.ascendingpath.com) and Chugach Adventure Guides (www.alaskanrafting.com).

Glaciers, by foot:

Want to get up close and personal with a glacier? Take a hike. Literally. There are a few glaciers in Southcentral Alaska that you can literally walk up to, touch and even talk to, if you’re into that type of thing. Better to just take a few photos and keep moving.

Less than two hours north of Anchorage sits Matanuska Glacier, one of the most accessible glaciers in Southcentral. You can view if from afar, drive right up to it or walk on it. Area outfitters offer guided tours and ice climbing adventures that will take you into the belly of the icy beast. There are also camping, lodging and dining options within a short walk or drive, so you can make this a multiday glacier experience. You can even go ziplining in the area! Learn more about Matanuska Glacier area and the services available at www.matanuska-glacier.com and dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/matsu/matsuglsrs.htm.

Two hours south of Anchorage is Exit Glacier, an icy resident near Seward which offers easy access and a history lesson on the power and decline of glaciers. It also offers some pretty cool hikes and walks. Check out the National Park Service’s Exit Glacier page at www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier.htm.

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