Located at Mile 102 of the Glenn Highway, Matanuska Glacier is a don’t-miss highlight. Today, this glacier is 27 miles long and four miles wide; 18,000 years ago it occupied Palmer, but it hasn’t done much in the last 400 years. Much of the land in front of the glacier is owned by Jack Kimball, who spent decades developing a road and bridges to a bluff overlooking the ice.
Access to Glacier Park (907/745-2534 or 888/253-4480, www.matanuskaglacier.com, May–mid-Oct.) costs $15 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students, $5 ages 6–12, and free for younger children. You can hike on the easier sections with tennis shoes, but will need a guide for the steeper parts of the glacier. Glacier Park also has a snack bar and campsites (no hookups) close to the glacier for $15 (plus your admission), but no water.
Based just up the road, MICA Guides (907/351-7587 or 800/956-6422, www.micaguides.com) leads glacier hikes ($45) that often include the chance to explore an ice cave, three-hour ice fall treks ($100), and all-day ice climbing adventures ($130); entrance to Glacier Park is not included in the prices.
Out along the highway is Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site ($15), on a hillside overlooking the ice giant. Nearby is Long Rifle Lodge (907/745-5151 or 800/770-5151, www.longriflelodge.com), with homemade meals, a lounge, and motel rooms ($80 d with private bath). However, the real reason to stop here is the view from the dining room of the nearby glacier and valleys—it’s hard to keep your eyes on your plate with this mountain panorama in front of you.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition