Whether you’re visiting to take advantage of Valdez’s world-class access to backcountry skiing and snowboarding, stopping in because of the community’s access to phenomenal fishing in Prince William Sound, or just checking it out, you’re likely left with some spare time and wondering what to do with one day in Valdez.
Valdez is about a five hour drive from Anchorage and six hour drive from Fairbanks. It sits at the end of the Richardson Highway and is the terminus of the trans-Alaska pipeline. Unless you’re flying in or taking the marine ferry system, you’ll have to follow the Richardson Highway because it’s the only way in and out of Valdez.
Waterfalls and glaciers
On the way in or out, stop and marvel at Bridal Veil Falls. At the same stop, try the Valdez Goat Trail. The trail is a two-mile trek that is a restored route of the first glacier-free land route from Valdez to interior Alaska. A little ways past the falls at V 28.9 is the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site, which has viewing telescopes and some short hiking options to view the glacier.
Worthington is an amazing stop on the way, but once in town Columbia Glacier must be near the top of the list of things to do with one day in Valdez. Columbia is the second largest tidewater glacier in North America. There are lots of wildlife cruises in town that offer glacier and wildlife viewing. The cruise will eat up a big chunk of the day, but is worth it. If the prospect of a long cruise is too much, there are flightseeing tours that offer aerial views of Columbia Glacier and the surrounding Chugach mountains.
Valdez has a storied history. Stopping at the museum will give you a chance to learn about the gold rush, 1964 earthquake, trans-Alaska pipeline, 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the region’s native culture. General admission to the museum is $5. Kids 13 and under are free.
Solomon Gulch Hatchery
Stop in the Solomon Gulch salmon hatchery. The hatchery releases about 250 million pink salmon fry and 1.8 million coho salmon smolt every year. If you’re visiting during a salmon run, the hatchery provides a great opportunity to see hordes of salmon and all the predatory wildlife that congregate to take advantage of the abundance. In addition to learning about salmon, you might see eagles, seals, sea lions, and bears.
There are many delicious places to eat in Valdez. Just remember, when in Valdez, eat seafood. Don’t be this close to the source and pass up the opportunity to taste the bounty of Prince William Sound.
Stop in The Fat Mermaid, The Roadside Potato Head, or The Wheelhouse Bar and Restaurant for dining by the water. If you’re craving street tacos, stop in Nat Shack. For pizza, kick back at The Stampmill.
Lots of choice, but the point is, you’ve had a full and adventurous day. Enjoy some grub and sip a drink.
Then plan your next trip to Valdez.