Are you looking to drive from Anchorage to Valdez? This beautiful and scenic drive is well worth your time. Some of our scenic pictures below may be familiar to you, but this route is how you can see these same beautiful spots.
Some describe Valdez as the most beautiful town in Alaska, and that does not come without reason.
Officially pronounced “Val’-deez,” you will surely impress the locals if you say it correctly.
It is located directly east of Anchorage, however there is only one route getting there which is a 300 mile drive and takes approximately 5.5 hours. This drive is incredibly scenic with many viewpoints and photo ops along the way.
If you plan on making some of these scenic stops, plan to take an entire day to get from Anchorage to Valdez.
Anchorage itself offers a variety of stops that are worth making and as you begin your journey up the highway, there are also some other detours worth checking out. This guide will provide you with many scenic stops along the way from Anchorage to Valdez, whether you are looking to split the trip up some, or simply just want to take advantage of all the beauty and experiences Alaska has to offer.
* Indicates $5 parking fee, annual pass may be valid in some areas.
By driving from Anchorage to Valdez, you can spend almost an entire day going through Anchorage up to Palmer checking out some of these beautiful scenic points.
The stops below are listed out in our article about driving from Anchorage to Denali, but your drive from Anchorage to Valdez will split off at Palmer and head a different direction. If you want to view the stops listed below, read our article about driving from Anchorage to Denali, then come back here and start from Palmer.
- Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
- Westchester Lagoon
- Earthquake Park
- Downtown Anchorage Viewpoint
- Point Woronzof
- “Greetings from Alaska” Mural
- Eklutna Tailrace
- Eagle River Nature Center*
- South Fork/Barbara Falls
- Thunderbird Falls*
- Eklutna Lake*
- Mirror Lake
- Reflections Lake
Palmer’s slogan is “Alaska at its best,” and many people would agree as it is one of the most picturesque and quaint little towns along the Glenn Highway. Stop here to walk around a small, historical district where you will find many restaurants and parks.
Its countryside is known for having some of the most photographed barns in the state and is a great location to experience an adventure to Knik Glacier. There are also many trails in the area, with the photo above being taken from the Bodenburg Butte overlook.
Alaska is very vast and very remote. With this, there are very limited services, and you can go hundreds of miles without seeing any signs of civilization. It is important to plan accordingly and even bring plenty of snacks, as there are not many places to stop along the way. You will be limited to a few small diners, gas stations and grocery stores.
The closest thing you will find to “fast food” past Palmer is a Subway, and even that closes earlier than you might expect. Nobody likes a hangry passenger, so it is important to keep this in mind while traveling from Anchorage to Valdez, so you can ensure the best experience as you take time reaching your ultimate destination.
Matanuska Glacier State Park *
Located at Mile Marker 101 is a quick detour that offers great views of Matanuska Glacier. There is a paved parking area, that with a short walk will take you to a viewing platform, equipped with spotting scopes.
Although you can easily see Matanuska Glacier from the highway, this is a great spot to get an even closer view as well as a chance to use the bathrooms that are located right in the parking lot.
This area also offers camping and hiking on nearby trails, such as the Edge Nature Trail, which is just a 20-minute hike to an additional viewing platform.
- How to get there: 32611 Glenn Highway Sutton AK 99674 ~78.2 mi
- Phone: (907) 745-5151
If you are looking to make the most out of your great Alaskan adventure, a glacier trek is a sure way to do it!
Guided tours operate 365 days of the year and will give you that once in a lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with one of Mother Nature’s most impressive creations.
This tour must be booked in advance, as it runs on a schedule. You will be supplied with all necessary gear and taken on a journey through time as you admire and learn about these majestic pieces of history.
Although most people will choose to visit Alaska during the summer, the winter glacier treks have something very special and unique to offer.
You can learn more about a tour of the Matanuska Glacier in winter here.
- How to get there: 66500 S Glacier Park Rd Glacier View AK 99674
- Phone: (907) 745-2534
Kings Mountain Overlook
Directly between Palmer and Glacier View is a large pullout that offers incredible views of Kings Mountain and the Matanuska Valley. It is relatively easy to spot, but is not marked.
The view of the mountain itself will be behind you, so you would need to know what you are looking for or make sure to look behind you every once in a while.
The exact GPS coordinates for the pull-out are as follows:
- How to get there: 61°47’11.5” N 148°27’11.6” W
As you travel northbound towards Glennallen you will undoubtedly be taking in all the wonderful views around you. One of the areas to be on the lookout for is a location called Sheep Mountain, which as its name might imply, offers views of Dall sheep that may be roaming the area.
It is located shortly before mile marker 113 and offers a small parking area directly across the mountain.
At an elevation of 3,300 feet, this is the highest point on the Glenn Highway. Here, you will be surrounded by a variety of mountain views and a vast tundra that is dotted with spruce trees.
There are a couple of larger pull-outs along the highway that will allow you to fully take in your surroundings.
Around Mile Marker 128 is also the Eureka Lodge & Restaurant, where you may wish to catch a meal or stay for the night.
- How to get there: 128 Glenn Hwy HC01 Glennallen AK 99588
- Phone: (907) 822-3808
Mt. Drum View
As you approach the town of Glennallen, inevitably you will also be approaching the mighty Mt. Drum, which is a stratovolcano that is part of the Wrangell Mountains.
If the skies are clear, this mountain will be right in your face, and you will not be able to take your eyes off it. There are not many places to pull over here, but it is a very photographed location. Can you see why?
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Mount Sanford & Willow Lake Viewpoint
Once you have turned onto the Richardson Highway, you will begin a new journey of scenic views.
About 25 miles up the road is another pull-out that on a clear day will offer great views of the Wrangell Mountain Range and Willow Lake. This is a very quick stop and highly recommended photo op!
Its GPS coordinates can be found below.
- How to get there: 61°47’08.3” N 145°11’19.9” W
Worthington Glacier *
Located right off the Richardson Highway/Thompson Pass and viewable from the main road is Worthington Glacier.
Once in the parking lot, it is just a short walk down to the viewing platforms or you may even opt to hike back to the ice (if conditions allow).
- How to get there: 28 7 Richardson Highway Valdez AK 99686
- Phone: (907) 269-8400
Thompson Pass & Keystone Canyon
The drive from Anchorage to Valdez not only takes you through the Chugach Mountains, but through a rugged canyon that is spotted with waterfalls and an old railroad tunnel.
These stops are all located within close proximity of each other, so it is easy to knock them all at once!
Old Railroad Tunnel
This tunnel dates back to 1906 when the tunnel was constructed, however it was never finished. You may walk through the entire tunnel if you choose to do so.
Bridal Veil Falls
It would be nearly impossible to miss this stunning 600 ft waterfall, as it cascades directly into the canyon below and can be seen as you approach Valdez.
There is a large parking area across from it that you can stop at in order to get better views and pictures. During winter, a festival takes place in which many adventurous thrill-seekers will ice climb this waterfall.
Just up the road from Bridal Veil Falls is Horsetail Falls, another beautiful and flowing waterfall that is easily accessible from a parking area.
Solomon Gulch Hatchery
Calling all bears! All you can eat salmon! Being the largest pink salmon hatchery in North America, this is a detour definitely worth making even if the salmon run is not currently taking place.
It is just 4 miles off the main road but is a scenic journey along the inlet where you will also have views of the Valdez harbor from across the water.
Many forms of wildlife can be seen along this short route and is the only location in which I have personally spotted the ever elusive and majestic lynx!
During the salmon run, sightings of bears, bald eagles, sea lions, seals and otters are known to occur as the salmon make their way back to the hatchery and every creature in town is ready to eat.
As the tide goes out, hundreds to thousands of seagulls and other shore birds will scavenge the area to collect any leftovers, and there sure are plenty of them!
There is a self-guided tour along the hatchery that will provide additional information to the entire process, as well as views into the facility where the spawning and harvesting of the salmon takes place.
The best time to view the return of the salmon is July – October.
- How to get there: 1455 Dayville Rd Valdez AK 99686
- Phone: (907) 835-1329
- Website: valdezfisheries.org
Valdez Glacier Lake
This is another 4-mile detour in the opposite direction – leading you directly to the shore of the Glacier fed, Valdez Glacier Lake.
Pieces of ice drift from the glacier and right up to the beachfront during summer, while in winter the lake freezes over and becomes a giant playground of ice.
During the summer, you may kayak into the lake in order to get closer to the glacier. This can be a risky endeavor, however, and it is advised to go with a guide or tour group if not experienced in this type of adventure.
- How to get there: Glacier Campground Rd Valdez AK 99686
- Phone: (907) 873-4058
Located near Prince William Sound, this is the perfect gateway to wildlife and glacier cruises without nearly as many tourists as Seward. It also offers an abundance of hiking, kayaking and fishing.
Valdez is a relatively small town, but has a lot of history to it. There are 2 museums in which you can visit if interested in learning more about its history, as well as the Maxine Jesse Whitney Museum, which carries one of the largest collections of Native Alaskan art/artifacts in the world.
Originally part of the Gold Rush, the town was established in 1901, but faced a devastating earthquake in 1964, the largest North America has ever seen. This natural disaster resulted in the original old town being condemned, and by 1967 the new town was built.
In 1989, disaster hit Valdez again with the largest oil spill North America has ever seen. It took many years to clean up the aftermath, and remnants of it can still be found in the area.
Although these moments have put Valdez through some trying times, it has remained a strong and thriving community. There are still many remnants of the old town, which is also worth paying a visit to.
Old Town Valdez
Just 4 miles outside of the present Valdez lies the original Valdez. Destroyed in 1964 by the Good Friday Earthquake, it was decided that the original site was too unstable to rebuild, thus prompting the creation of the new town Valdez.
As you make your way around this “old town,” the only indicators you will find will be a variety of signs, depicting where certain establishments were during this time.
As Valdez marks the end of the road, there are no additional detours or drives from here.
We hope that you enjoy your time and stay in Valdez and as you begin your journey back down the Richardson Highway and back to Anchorage. Along the drive back to Anchorage you will have new views all around you that simply take your breath away!
My name is Michelle Hanson and I am a nature/travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska. I first discovered this great land during my time working on cruise ships, and knew it was a place that I needed to return to. I have been here since July 2021 and have already spent countless days on the road, exploring as much as possible. Through the course of these travels, I have built an extensive photo collection which I use to showcase nature’s beauty and inspire others to come experience Alaska for themselves. It is a powerful place that will steal your heart and speak to your soul. Feel free to follow along @mhphotoco, and thanks for reading!