Walk on a Glacier

 Driving the Glenn Highway provides an opportunity that is unique in the state of Alaska — the chance to explore a glacier firsthand. The Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier accessible by car, as well as the oldest. An impressive 13,000 feet high and 27 miles long, this breathtaking natural wonder is one of the few road accessible glaciers in the state, an easy drive on the Glenn and just two hours from Anchorage.

Located at Mile 101 of the Glenn, the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area sits next to the road that will take you to the glacier. Take a right at the signs, and head down a dirt road for a short distance. There is a gift shop and the entrance to the park area is gated. Fees are collected at the gift shop (ranging from $6-12). They also offer guided tours for an additional fee. Glacier access is just two miles further down the road after you come through the gate. There is a parking area and clearly marked footpaths for walking to the glacier.

 It is a short, 15-minute walk out to the glacier. Signs request that you stay within the cone area when walking, as heavy foot traffic can be damaging to the geological formations that surround the glacier. As with any part of nature, a glacier can be unpredictable and areas that seem stable may not be, so it is important to use caution once you access the glacier itself. You can walk out as far as you like, discovering interesting ice patterns and witnessing the power of this massive block of ice, created long before our existence.

More information is available at www.MatanuskaGlacier.com

America's Byways