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Glacier Viewing

One of the most photographed scenes of an Alaskan vacation is the towering blue face of a glacier. No wonder three of the top 10 most-visited attractions in the state are glaciers.

Of the 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, many are easily accessible by car, including Worthington Glacier on the Richardson Highway, Matanuska Glacier on the Glenn Highway, Exit Glacier on the Seward Highway, Portage Glacier on the Seward Highway and Mendenhall Glacier on Glacier Highway. You can also pack numerous glaciers into a day with a boat tour of Glacier Bay National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park or Prince William Sound. Flightseeing trips over ice masses like Sargent Ice Field, Bagley Ice Field, Harding Ice Field and Juneau Ice Field allow you to experience the vastness of the glaciers from the air.

The greatest concentration of glaciers in Alaska is in the Alaska Range and in the coastal ranges where the annual precipitation is high. These ancient rivers of ice are always in motion. A glacier is formed when snowfall accumulates and compacts under pressure into a dense ice mass. Most glaciers refract all colors of the spectrum except blue, causing them to appear deep blue.

There are three different types of glaciers: Alpine or hanging glaciers, which cling to mountain tops; piedmont or valley glaciers, which result when one or more glaciers join and spread out; and tidewater glaciers, which are dramatic and spectacular when the leading edges of the glaciers calve (fall off) into the water. Some Alaskans have even been known to use the icebergs floating in front of tidewater glaciers in their coolers or as a crackling cube in a cocktail.

To connect with Alaska businesses that specialize in glacier tours, visit Day Cruises and Multi-Day Cruises are where you will find tours to tide-water glaciers. Check out Flightseeing for glacier viewing by air. You will also find some glacier viewing under Sightseeing and Adventure & Ecotourism for glacier raft and kayaking trips.

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