A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
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VALDEZ: Gold rush town holds treasures for families, adventurers.
Adventurers would be wise to add Valdez to their Alaska travel plans. With the glory of Prince William Sound and all its attractions as well as the surrounding mountains and extraordinary skiing and snowboarding, Valdez has much to offer year-round.
This town of more than 4,000 can be reached by land, air or water and is nestled at the edge of Prince William Sound, surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. It is home to man-made wonders such as the trans-Alaska oil pipeline terminal, and jaw-dropping natural beauties as well.
Receiving an average of 30 feet of snow a year, Valdez is a well-known destination for heli-skiing and similar pursuits. Add to that nordic ski trails and an ice-climbing festival for all the makings of a winter paradise.
And in the summer, there are fishing derbies, festivals and the opportunity to explore amazing Prince William Sound and its glaciers and fjords.
Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum
One of the largest collections of Native Alaskan art and artifacts in the world.
WHERE: 303 Lowe St. in Prince William Sound Community College
WHEN: Summer 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, May through September; winter 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and weekends by appointment, excluding college holidays.
Trans-Alaska oil pipeline
With 800 miles of pipeline between Prudhoe Bay and Valdez, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is among the largest pipeline systems in the world and a marvel of engineering. Since 1977 more than 16 billion barrels of oil have been transported through the pipeline, which runs alongside the Richardson Highway on the way into Valdez. The view on that drive is as close as you'll get; the terminal was closed to visitors after 9/11 and is under high security.
Valdez Museum and Historical Archive
Exhibits that tell stories of the gold rush, the founding of Valdez, the oil pipeline and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The "Remembering Old Valdez" exhibit is four blocks from the museum and features a scale model of Old Town Valdez as it was just before the massive 1964 Good Friday earthquake.
WHERE: 217 Egan Drive
WHEN: Summer hours May 16 through Sept. 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; winter hours noon to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. The Remembering Old Valdez exhibit is open by appointment only in winter, and in summer from noon to 5 p.m. daily.
ADMISSION: $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 youth 14 to 17, children 13 and younger free.
Valdez Convention & Visitors Bureau
Information on businesses and activities in Valdez as well as maps and sample itineraries for visitors.
WHERE: 104 Chenega Street
WHEN: Summer hours May until Labor Day, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday (limited hours on Sunday); winter hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Visitors driving to Valdez will pass through the canyon, but for adventure-seekers, it's a destination. The Lowe River is popular for white-water rafting and kayaking, and the steep canyon walls are a challenge for rock and ice climbers. The canyon also has hiking trails with impressive waterfall views.
WHERE: Mile 13 to 16 Richardson Highway
In Thompson Pass, 28 miles from Valdez on the Richardson Highway, the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site provides visitors a view of the glacier. Tour companies also offer packages with trips to the glacier.
WHERE: Mile 28.7 Richardson Highway
WHEN: open daily
Mountain Man Hill Climb
Climb the peaks and make tracks across Thompson Pass for three days of snowmachine climbs and races. Hosted by the Valdez Snowmachine Club.
Where: Thompson Pass
Cost: entry fee $25-$100
Phone: 907- 831-0151
May Day Fly-In & Air Show
Bush pilots from around the world compete in events such as flour bombing, short takeoffs and landings, and a poker fun run.
WHERE: Valdez Airport
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Mother's Day Weekend, May 11-13
COST: Entry fees vary
Phone: 907- 835-4636
Valdez Fish Derbies
Be sure to get your derby tickets before heading out on the water. Daily and weekly prizes are awarded in addition to the grand prizes for the overall biggest fish. This year's grand prize for silver salmon and halibut is $15,000.
WHERE: Valdez waters. Weigh in at the station on Chitina Street, a half mile from the harbor master's office
WHEN: Halibut May 19-Sept 2; silver salmon July 21-Sept. 2; women's silver salmon Aug. 11; kids' pink salmon July 14
COST: $10 daily or $50 for the season
Last Frontier Theatre Conference
In its 20th year, this annual conference features work from playwrights across the country. Writers submit one-act or full-length plays, and selected works are read by actors and critiqued. The conference also has master classes, panel discussions and evening performances.
WHERE: Valdez Civic Center
WHEN: June 10-16
COST: $50 registration fee
The Fireweed 400
The bicycle race across Alaska celebrates its 10th year in 2012 and has cyclists competing in distances from 50 miles to 400.
WHERE: The race begins at Sheep Mountain Lodge and travels across mountains with the 200-mile-race finish line in Valdez. Racers on the 400-mile course reach Valdez, then turn around and head back to Sheep Mountain.
WHEN: July 13-14
Pink Salmon Festival / Fourth of July Festival
Celebrate the Fourth with parades, music and salmon cook-offs.
When: July 3-4
Valdez Gold Rush Days
Celebrate the history of Valdez with the city's biggest annual festival featuring music, food, a parade and games. Learn about the city's history with fun events for the whole family.
WHEN: First week in August