Alaska Day 18 - Walking on the Matanuska Glacier, the last day in Alaska

Matanuska Glacier - AK Travel Blog

 › entry 728 of 1090 › view all entries
The glacier seen from Matanuska State Recreation Site

A sad day, the last full day in Alaska. But, still 180 km (113 mile) to go to Anchorage Airport, and a whole day to spend. We had a bit of a slow start. In the middle of the night we noticed that we were really in the mountains when the temperature dropped below the freezing point. With an open window and thin blankets on our beds this was not very comfy. Shivering from cold I managed to get the (high tech) heater started.

After breakfast the car, which had been frozen as well, had been de-iced by the sun rays. Yes, it was another perfectly sunny day. The mountains around the "lodge" looked even more colourful when illuminated by the sun.

Our first goal was the Matanuska Glacier State Recreational Site. This little state-park-managed site gives some nice views on the great Matanuska Glacier.

Matanuska Glacier
The Matanuska Glacier is with dimensions of 6 km (4 mile) wide and 43 km (27 mile) long the largest glacier in Alaska that can be reached by car. The only problem is that the lands that provide the access are public grounds and the owner has been so clever to charge a ridiculously high toll of USD20 per person for the access to the glacier.

Since we had been on so many glaciers we opted to skip this one. At least, until we got a better view from the state park on the glacier far away. Its size and ruggedness, in combination with the sunny day attracted us. After some more enchanting views we were convinced, we needed to go there. 

We also learnt something nice in the park about glaciers in Alaska and the northwest of the US and Canada. They have something no other glacier in the world has. Residents, ice worms! These tiny worms survive in the upper layer of the glacier and actually crawl through the ice like normal worms do in the soil.

Matanuska Glacier
See here for a nice video!

When we drove the 5-km (3-mile) glacier Access Road of the Glacier Park Resort, we got a bit more understanding for the high fee charged. It is quite a road, with a steep descent and bridge. But, also with many potholes. The McCarthy Road was way better! When we arrived at the glacier it was already impressive. An official hiking trail was marked that led us onto the glacier. But only towards a point that was not more spectacular than the Exit Glacier or Root Glacier we already visited. We were too late to participate in a guided tour, but we saw many people walk further and given the fact that the guided tours also took that trail (without ropes etc.) we decided to just walk the ice. We did not have crampons but we managed perfectly with our hiking boots.

Matanuska Glacier

The views were incredible. Unlike the other glaciers we were walking in the midst of many ice mountain structures with the beautiful and typical deep blue ice colour. It reminded me somewhat of the Jardin d'émail by artist Jean Dubuffet which I saw just three weeks ago in The Netherlands (see here).

After our glacier visit we quickly proceeded, we still had some driving to do. Destination Anchorage.

More pictures below.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The glacier seen from Matanuska St…
The glacier seen from Matanuska S…
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
The mountains surrounding our Cabi…
The mountains surrounding our Cab…
The mountains surrounding and our …
The mountains surrounding and our…
Artists Impression of an ice worm…
Artist's Impression of an ice wor…
The glacier seen from Matanuska St…
The glacier seen from Matanuska S…
Matanuska State Recreation Site
Matanuska State Recreation Site
The glacier seen from Matanuska St…
The glacier seen from Matanuska S…
Just before stepping on the glacier
Just before stepping on the glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Our hike on the glacier
Our hike on the glacier
Matanuska Glacier - AK
photo by: mdalamers