Valdez, Alaska is off the beaten path for many Alaskan travelers. Even some who live within the state consider it out of the way or difficult to reach. Nothing could be further from the truth. Valdez is a great place to visit and well worth the effort to get there. In addition, it’s one of the few places in Alaska that can be reached by car, airplane, or ferry. This means that, no matter how you choose to travel around Alaska, Valdez can be a part of your itinerary.
But why visit the town? If so many people have chosen to forgo traveling to Valdez, is it really a good idea to go? Yes it is, and here are four reasons why Valdez, Alaska is such a fantastic place for your next vacation.
All of Alaska is beautiful. Each area has its own unique perspective on northern environments. But few can match the absolutely striking natural landscapes surrounding Valdez. For example, a driver coming to Valdez will see Worthington Glacier, one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers. Past there is the gorgeous Keystone Canyon. The highway follows Lowe River through rock walls covered in luscious green vegetation. Numerous waterfalls cascade over the canyon’s craggy face. Once you reach the town of Valdez, you find yourself on a narrow piece of land with 360-degree views of steep mountains. The scenery is breathtaking and unlike anything else.
Valdez is home to many kinds of wild animals. Because of the town’s unusual location, the wildlife is easily viewable from your car. The most prolific animal is the bald eagle. Upwards of 10 or more birds can be seen in a single tree. Springtime also brings the bears out of hibernation. Black bears are often viewed on the Duck Flats just before town. Brown bears are usually found on Dayville Road near the fish hatchery. These giant beasts are amazing to watch as they tear into spawning salmon. Since Valdez is on the ocean, it’s also possible to see sea otters and seals.
Alaska continues to call out to those seeking adventure. For many years it has been the destination for those who seek their fortune, whether it has been in gold, copper, or other natural resources. Valdez has a long history of being part of these treasure rushes. During the Klondike Gold Rush years, Valdez was hailed as the “All-American Route” to the interior of Alaska. Miners stepped off of the boat in the town to find shop keepers and others ready to take their money before they attempted the treacherous journey over the glacier. Few made it to the gold and copper fields further north. Later, Valdez was the site of the 1964 earthquake that damaged areas throughout the state. According to the official Valdez website, it measured 9.2 on the Richter scale. More recently, Valdez has become the site of the end of the oil pipeline, continuing the town’s importance in the state. Visit the town’s many museums to learn more.
Valdez hosts numerous activities throughout the year, including Gold Rush Days and Frosty Fever. The area also boasts extreme skiing and snowboarding with some of the best snow around. Hiking and fishing are fantastic ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Prince William Sound. Many businesses can help with tours, equipment rentals, and information as to how to best enjoy all that Valdez has to offer. The only thing for you to do is get there!
Sources and Further Reading
The Official Valdez, Alaska website