While there are many reasons to visit the 49th state, from abundant wildlife like whales, moose, bears, and bald eagles to epic mountain scenery, one of the best things to do is to take a glacier walk in Alaska.
There are around 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, which are icy formations with tinges of brilliant blue that can only be reached by air or water. These stunning bodies of ice can serve as a gorgeous backdrop during a walk through nature, a picturesque spot to snap photos, or even an unforgettable venue for a glacier wedding.
With many of our planet’s glaciers melting at an alarming rate, a visit to Alaska brings the perfect opportunity to get an up-close look at some of Mother Nature’s best work while surrounded by incredible beauty before they disappear. The only question is, which glacier walk in Alaska should you choose?
1. Comet Glacier Alpine to Spencer Glacier Blue Wall
Departing from the mountain town of Girdwood, just a short drive from Anchorage International Airport, the Comet Glacier Alpine to Spencer Glacier Blue Wall trek is a full-day adventure that starts with an epic 20-minute scenic helicopter flight with Alpine Air Alaska Helicopters to the trailhead, with a guided hike with Chugach Adventures.
Your aircraft will land right next to Comet Glacier. During the four-hour, five-mile hike led by an experienced guide, you’ll marvel at hanging glaciers, cirque glaciers, retreating mountain glaciers, rock glaciers, and more before reaching the dramatic wall of blue ice.
2. Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park
Located just a few miles outside the town of Seward, one of the top things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park is to come face-to-face with Exit Glacier.
There is a network of trails leading from the Exit Glacier Nature Center that reveal various views of the glacier, starting with the Glacier View Loop Trail that travels through a forest to Glacier View. From this vantage point, just a mile from the trailhead, you’ll get a panoramic vista of the glacier as it spills from Harding Icefield. Continuing on the Glacier Overlook Trail adds another .6 miles and will bring to a rewarding, full view of the glacier in its magnificent, glacially carved valley.
3. Spencer Glacier Hiking
Ascending Path offers the perfect glacier hiking tour for those staying in Girdwood or Anchorage who want to marvel at a glacier up close. The three-hour trek includes a ride on the scenic Alaska Railroad to Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, following Turnagain Arm with its majestic mountain peaks and abundant wildlife, including beluga whales that are sometimes spotted from Beluga Point. From there, you’ll meet up with an expert guide for an easy 2-mile walk to the face of the glacier.
You’ll enjoy views of the glacier rising 3,500 feet from the sapphire glacial lake where icebergs float like gems along the way. The ice-age setting is quintessential Alaskan wilderness with mile-high peaks towering over braided rivers and cascading waterfalls.
4. Portage Glacier Hike
Just a slight detour off Seward Highway south of Anchorage and 12 miles from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center will bring you to Whittier.
Start at the far end of the Whittier Tunnel, following the steep two-mile hike to Portage Pass for a breathtaking head-on view of Portage Glacier. After cresting at the pass, you’ll drop through glacial scrub and then reach the gravelly shores of Portage Lake with the glacier directly across. Watch its face closely as it shatters regularly, plunging huge hunks of ice into Portage Lake.
5. Matanuska Glacier Tour
Matanuska Glacier stretches for 27 miles from the Chugach Mountains and terminates next to Glenn Highway into the Matanuska River. It’s the largest glacier that can be accessed by road and it’s less than two hours northeast of Anchorage.
If you want to do more than look at this active glacier that flows about one foot every day, glacier hiking tours are available. You’ll walk right on top of the glacier as the ice crinkles below your feet, led by an expert guide. The only requirements are the ability to walk with crampons and a basic level of fitness.
6. Grewingk Glacier Lake Trail
If you plan to visit Homer, you won’t want to miss the chance to explore Kachemak Bay State Park which also happens to be home to Grewingk Glacier, a 13-mile-long glacier nestled in the Kenai Mountains. Just hop on a water taxi to reach Glacier Spit and the trailhead.
The Grewingk Glacier Trail is one of the easiest hikes in the park, with little elevation gain. Your reward for walking the 6.4 miles round-trip is an unforgettable view of the glacier across Glacier Lake and the chance to see many types of wildlife, including bald eagles and black bears.
Plan Your Glacier Walk in Alaska Today
There’s no better way to access remote glacier walks and other adventures in Alaska than by helicopter. Before stepping out onto the ice, surrounded by a world that might remind you of Disney’s “Frozen,” you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the state’s extraordinary landscapes while traveling with a company that has an unparalleled reputation for safety, exceptional service, and high-quality glacier tours.
For the ultimate glacier walk, contact us to book your adventure or find out more.