Best of the Wrangells and Prince William Sound
Matanuska Glacier: One hundred miles from Anchorage on the Glenn Highway, this is a good place to get out on the ice — and under it in ice caves.
McCarthy Road: This 60-mile gravel road cuts into the heart of magnificent Wrangell–St. Elias National Park along an old railroad bed. The Kuskulana River bridge is a high point (literally) with the river 400 heart-stopping feet below.
McCarthy: Think Northern Exposure with fewer residents and older buildings; this is a wonderful end-of-the-road settlement from another era. Park your car on the other side of the river and walk the footbridge into town.
Kennicott Valley: Just five miles up the road from McCarthy are the enormous red buildings from the heyday of copper mining a century ago. The Park Service offers historical tours, and concessionaires guide hikes onto Root Glacier.
Thompson Pass: North of Valdez, the Edgerton Highway climbs over this scenic alpine pass. Stop at Worthington Glacier for a hike, and come back in winter for world-class heli-skiing.
Keystone Canyon: The Lowe River drops through this narrow canyon where high waterfalls plunge from the cliffs. Located just north of Valdez, this is a popular spot for summertime rafting and winter ice climbing.
Prince William Sound Boat Tours: Several companies operate day trips from Valdez or Whittier, offering the chance to see glaciers (especially massive Columbia Glacier), sea lions, otters, and the occasional killer whale.
Copper River Highway: One of Alaska’s finest back roads, this 50-mile gravel road leads from Cordova to the Million Dollar Bridge over the Copper River, with opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing along the way. Located near the end of the Copper River Highway, Childs Glacier dumps enormous chunks of ice into the river on a regular basis. There’s nothing like it anywhere in Alaska.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition