The Chugach Mountains tower over Valdez, but the town’s location on the deep-water fjords of Prince William Sound makes it a great place to head out for FISH ON! Valdez is about 300 miles from Anchorage and 365 miles from Fairbanks, making it a perfect getaway for a long weekend. Fortunately, you don’t need a passport to explore Alaska’s own “Little Switzerland”! Get your Alaska fishing license, then take your own boat to launch from the Valdez Harbor or call ahead to make reservations for a salmon and halibut charter.
Drive to Glennallen from Anchorage (Glenn Highway, approximately 300 miles) or from Fairbanks (Richardson Highway, approximately 250 miles) where you’ll start the 120-mile leg to Valdez. Continue south along the Richardson Highway, where the alpine views of Thompson Pass offer a stunning setting for the Worthington Glacier. Easily accessible from the Richardson Highway, Worthington Glacier is a designated National Natural Landmark. Take the wheelchair accessible path to a viewing platform near the toe of the glacier or hike the two-mile ridgeline trail for 360-degree views.
Valdez is Mile 0 of the Richardson Highway, and as you work your way into town, you’ll pass through canyons and see countless waterfalls fed by snowmelt from the peaks of the Chugach Mountains more than 5,000 feet above sea level. Valdez started as a gold rush town, but today is known for its sport fishing and as the end of the 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline. After dinner, overnight at a local campground or lodge.
Plan to get up early, those fish won’t wait! Charters – either half- or full-day tend to leave early in the morning to head out to the best fishing spots in Prince William Sound, especially to get to the deeper holes for lingcod and halibut. Fortunately, charter operators will have all the gear you need – and clean and package your fish for you, all ready for the freezer. If you’re lucky to have a boat – or a friend with a boat – consider overnighting onboard your boat, in a public use cabin, or camping on a beach.
Prince William Sound is known for its glaciers and wildlife so if you’re not out for another day of fishing, spend the morning on a glacier tour of Prince William sound or rent a kayak and use people power to explore the water. In the afternoon, tour local museums and learn about the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, the 9.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed Valdez’s original townsite. Stay overnight at a local campground or hotel.
Before you start your drive back home, get in a good workout along trails leading to old mining claims. Before fish, Valdez was one of the starting routes to the famous mining districts in Eagle and the Klondike. The old gold rush trail was upgraded to a wagon trail in the early 1900s before becoming the Richardson Highway in the early 1920s. Today, it’s a designated scenic byway!