Whittier, Valdez, Palmer, Wasilla
Day 1 Anchorage to Valdez via Whittier
Depart from Anchorage south along the Seward Highway, a federally designated All-American Road. The 127-mile highway that connects Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula follows scenic Turnagain Arm for the first portion of the drive, a great place to snap photographs of Cook Inlet as well as wildlife like Dall sheep and beluga whales. Stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a rehabilitation center for orphaned and injured wildlife to see bears, bison, caribou, moose, eagles and more. Then, travel through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest shared rail-vehicle tunnel in North America (be sure and check the schedule for tunnel openings). Whittier is situated on the shores of Prince William Sound, and has a fascinating World War II history and stunning scenery. Depart with your vehicle on an Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Valdez (advance reservations strongly recommended). Overnight in Valdez.
Day 2 Valdez
Valdez is a premier fishing destination with a stunning mountain backdrop. The gold rush history, as well as the devastation caused by the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, is documented in local museums and along the town’s scenic trails. Book a full or half day fishing charter for your chance to catch a monster-sized halibut or salmon and possibly win a prize in the local derbies. Or take a day cruise to Columbia Glacier, the second largest tidewater glacier in North America, viewing marine life along the way.
Day 3 Mat-Su Valley
Driving north from Valdez, stop to view Worthington Glacier in Thompson Pass. Then continue along the Richardson Highway, with the Wrangell Mountains off to the east. At Glennallen, take the Glenn Highway west (another National Scenic Byway) and be sure to stop at Matanuska Glacier, Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier. Ice climbing or glacier trekking trips on the glacier can be booked in advance, or you can just enjoy the view and take pictures of the ancient ice. Continue west to Palmer, where you can check out the Musk Ox Farm to see animals that recall Alaska’s ancient mammalian history, or discover the agricultural roots of the Mat-Su Valley at the Colony House Museum. Overnight in Palmer at a charming bed and breakfast or hotel.
Day 4 Mat-Su Valley
Explore the beauty of Hatcher Pass with a guided tour of Independence Mine Historical State Park and learn about the gold rush in the early 1900s. Located just a few miles from downtown Palmer between Palmer and the neighboring city of Wasilla, Hatcher Pass is a favorite of Mat-Su visitors. Whether you take a tour or just hike one of the alpine tundra trails on your own, you won’t be disappointed. Journey into Wasilla for a stop at Iditarod Headquarters and learn about the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race through historical displays, video exhibits, photos and more. The surrounding areas of Wasilla have abundant lakes and rivers filled with a range of fish from rainbow trout and grayling to lake trout and Arctic char and even king salmon. The visitor center in Wasilla can provide information on accessibility, boat rentals and guides. Complete the trip with a drive to Anchorage and depart from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.