Oct 16, 2021| Top Activities & Things To Do
The glacier is a fixture of the Alaska landscape. Estimates indicate that Alaska has about 100,000 glaciers. That’s a lot of ice. But it’s also a lot of gorgeous peaks and valleys. And that’s why you need to visit these frosty behemoths.
Of course, 100,000 is a big number, and you can’t see them all. So, we’ve put together a list of the best glaciers in Alaska. You may stumble onto a few glaciers during your travels in The Last Frontier, but these are the best major glaciers Alaska has to offer.
Largest, of course, doesn’t mean best. But we’ve chosen the following as the major and most famous glaciers in Alaska, the 49th state.
Before we begin, a few fun facts about glaciers.
Now that you’re an expert, let’s take a look at some of the best glaciers in Alaska.
Mendenhall Glacier is probably the best-known and most popular glacier in the state. Located in the famous Tongass National Forest, Mendenhall Glacier is twelve miles north of Juneau. When you visit, you can enjoy hiking, grab some spectacular photos and see the magnificent Nugget Falls.
Exit Glacier is a glacier that, um, you won’t want to exit. (Sorry.) Exit Glacier is accessible by car, but you can also walk from the park entrance to the toe (or lowest end of the glacier) of the Exit. The toe is also known as the snout or terminus. Exit Glacier is located in the exotic Kenai Fiords National Park, a place you truly want to visit on its own, located about 10 to 15 minutes from Seward.
This goliath is 27 miles long and four miles wide and is the largest glacier accessible by car. Take a walk on a real live glacier or check out the Matanuska Glacier Caves. The glacier is 93 scenic miles from Anchorage and is accessible at Mile 101 of the Glenn Highway. Although naturalist John Muir named it the "Auk” glacier for a member of the native Tlingit tribe, Matanuska is a Russian word that means "copper river people.”
Hike, kayak, or camp, Spencer Glacier is 3,500 ft. tall and is in the Chugach National Forest. It’s only 60 miles from Anchorage, and it’s worth the trip to see massive peaks, giant waterfalls, and pristine waters. But you can’t get there by car; you have to take a train ride on the Alaska Railroad that takes you past the beautiful Turnagain Arm.
Located 55 miles south of Anchorage, you can get to this beauty of a glacier by taking the Seward Highway. Your best off by seeing this one by boat. Although it is retreating, Portage Glacier offers camping, hiking, and a walk through a glacial cave.
This 450-year-old ice field is more than 2,000 feet thick in some places, and, unlike many of its glacial cousins, it is advancing into Disenchantment Bay. Because of its size, Hubbard Glacier collects more snow and grows due to its sheer size. Take a cruise to see one of the most magnificent Alaska glaciers.
Not as well-known as some of its famous glacial colleagues, you’ll see towering granite cliffs, incredible waterfalls, and wildlife that you’ve only seen on TV. Talk about calving; the Dawes often sheds icebergs into the sea. Located near Endicott Arm, it’s about 50 miles from Juneau.
Like the Hubbard Glacier, the Margerie is advancing roughly 30 feet each year. This 21-mile-long ice sheet spikes 250 feet into the sky. It is in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and is accessible by cruise ship.
Take a one-to-four-hour hike and see ice caves. This icy blue snowfield has beautiful sites and a three-mile hiking trail, but the National Park Service warns travelers to bring rain gear. Take the Seward Highway and turn off the Seward Highway Portage Glacier Road to get to this gem. The glacier is located near Girdwood.
Located 140 miles from Fairbanks, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, Castner has hiking trails and snow-shoeing cool glacier caves.
Remember, these are just a few of the glaciers in Alaska. Although there is likely no way to get to all of them – some may be inaccessible – you’ve only got 99,990 left to explore!
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