When you think of Alaska, you may see it as a remote destination for people who want to get away from the crowds. Alaska is also well known for its impressive glaciers all over the state. Visitors come from all over to visit glacier destinations including Glacier Bay National Park or one of the largest glaciers, Matanuska Glacier. No matter what part of Alaska you’re visiting, there’s most likely a glacier nearby. America By Rail offers train trips throughout Alaska’s top destinations, including glaciers. Here are the best glaciers to visit during your Alaska vacation.
We’ve mentioned that Matanuska is one of the largest glaciers, but it’s also the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. If you’re driving to Matanuska, the glacier is about two hours northeast of Anchorage and is easily one of the prettiest drives in the state. You can walk up to the glacier and touch it for a small fee once you get to mile 102. For a free view of the glacier, Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is a great place to stop and take some photos or take the short “Edge Nature Trail” hike.
Mendenhall Glacier is about 12 miles from downtown Juneau and is easily accessible if you’re staying in the area. The 13-mile-long glacier has a great visitor center where you can watch a short film about the glacier, learn more at interactive exhibits, and view the glacier through telescopes. Visitors love the wildlife viewing opportunities in the park including bears, bald eagles, and beavers. There are several walking and hiking trails with varying difficulties that allow every visitor to get a great view of the glacier.
This glacier is unique because you can only see it by railroad. The Alaska Railroad will take you past the colorful Spencer Glacier that’s between Anchorage and Denali. If you’re looking to spend more time at Spencer Glacier, hop off the train and hike to the glacier or take a raft trip past the icebergs. Our Alaska by Rail tour takes Alaska Railroad’s Wilderness Express train on the way to the Denali National Park.
Glacier Bay National Park
West of Juneau in a town called Gustavus, Glacier Bay National Park is a favorite destination in Alaska’s Inside Passage and spans 3.3 million acres, most of which is water and glaciers. It’s also part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest protected areas. Tour the bay within the park by boat or kayak and admire the several glaciers and icebergs floating by. If you’re planning on hiking in the park, a park ranger will help you plan a route and give information on the different types of glaciers in the park. The most notable glaciers to see include Margerie, Muir, Johns Hopkins, and McBride.
In the small town of Yakutat, 200 miles northwest of Juneau, you can find Hubbard Glacier. The six-mile-wide glacier also extends into Canada and is one of the most active glaciers in Alaska. The glacier has experienced two surges in the past 30 years. This is when a glacier experiences higher velocity, which caused the surrounding fjord of Hubbard to turn into a lake. The only way to see it is by boat off the coast of Yakutat. Since the ice is so thick, you can only get within a half mile of the glacier.
While there are hundreds of glaciers in Alaska, our guide shows you the best glaciers to see during your trip. A train trip or rail and sail tour to Alaska will let you relax and enjoy your vacation while giving you a unique view of the best Alaskan glaciers.