Matanuska Glacier

Matanuska Valley
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Difficulty
Easy; as easy as walking on ice.
Miles One Way
0.5
Miles from Anchorage
100; Take the Glenn Highway north
Season
May to September

Description

This isn’t a true hike per se, but if you want to explore a glacier without having to rent a guide and be attached to someone with a rope, this is the place.

What can I say? It’s a really cool thing to do and it should be a definite stop on your way to or back from the Wrangells, Valdez, McCarthy, etc. The photographic opportunities are endless.

Important Information

You are on private property and as such, and the owner currently charges $25 for residents & $30 for non-residents (as of July 2017) to access the glacier. Their official website can be found here.

Bring some kind of pole or walking stick.

There is a campground in the area but it’s not as attractive as you’d think.

Etc.

Before you head down, have lunch in the rest stop just before the turnoff. You’ll catch a gorgeous view of the glacier and the valley. The campground is an excellent locale but spots, first come-first serve, go quickly.

If you’d like to educate yourself about glaciers and their awesome power, please visit All About Glaciers, a great introductory website.

Finding the Trailhead

Take the Glenn Highway just past the Matanuska Glacier Rest Stop (about mile 100).  You will see a small grocery store on your right with a road just after it.  Take a right on that road and head down into the valley.  It is rough and steep and a bit harrowing but otherwise fine.  Continue across the valley and over the bridge. A little ways from the bridge you will see a store. Get your tickets there and continue down the road to the trailhead.

Topo Map

Matanuska Glacier topo map

Comments on hiking Matanuska Glacier

  1. Kate Mullen — August 8, 2017

    It was so beautiful! Not a cloud in the sky, wore jeans and a t-shirt! The people in the gift shop were so cute and so friendly.
    What’s the deal with the sign saying unsafe road, do not enter? Very nice person at small store said to go anyway. I’ll never forget it.

  2. Katie — July 3, 2017

    Price update as of July 2017: $25 for residents, $30 for non residents, varying discounts for children and military. We hiked this years ago and had a great time; just swinging through today so we didn’t feel we’d get our money’s worth in 20 minutes’ time.

  3. Ed Rosek — August 31, 2016

    I’ve hiked the glacier twice now and will again tomorrow, September 1st, 2016. I’m looking forward to hiking the glacier again as the first two experienced were just thrilling.
    It wasn’t that hard to find the road down to the small store and entrance gate. I was ecstatic to pay $20 to go and freely explore the glacier at my own pace for as long as I wanted. The first time it was March 24th 2014 and there was still a lot of snow and the temperature ranged in the low teens. The half mile hike to the glacier was actually easy as snowmachines had left a nicely packed trail. The lake was frozen so I could walk right to the glacier.
    If you’ve never been to, or ON a glacier, for $20 you won’t get a better price for the experience. $20 won’t get you a movie and popcorn at todays prices, but you can spend many hours hiking, exploring and photographing one of natures most wonderful marvels; deep blue ice, massive bergs and huge seracs!
    The second time I went was last year in July (2015). Once again it was an incredible experience. Yes, the walk from the parking area is a small challenge, but for somebody of able body its an easy stroll to get to and onto the glacier. I suppose some visitors that want an outdoor Alaskan experience expect red carpet service, but this IS Alaska after all and not a television series. It’s wild, untamed and can be the ultimate experience of a lifetime if you can forgo some niceties to experience what many will never get the chance to do . . to walk on a massive, miles long moving slab of centuries old ice . . and in America’s most beautiful state to boot!

  4. Josh — June 2, 2016

    Just writing to give an update to the fee, which is now $20 per person.

    Webmaster’s note: thanks Josh! I’ve updated the hike description accordingly.

  5. The following was submitted by Jeanne Wetzler:

    Hi! We just back to Florida from Alaska. We LOVED it there! Unfortunately, I visited your great website after the fact. Otherwise, I might have had a heads-up on this experience.

    I have some difficulty walking as I am due for a knee replacement and can not really “hike”. We chose to visit Matanuska Glacier because you can “drive right up to it” (supposedly). This is misleading advertising! The uneven 1/2 mile hike through the melt and debris that you have to cross first was never mentioned or explained! We loved exploring the glacier, but found it quite difficult to cross the melt area and actually get to the ice area. The people in the gift shop were very unfriendly and did not answer questions about the real walking distance. We felt it was quite pricey as there were no benches or any conveniences for visitors for the $15.00 cost. The “camping” areas left a lot to be desired, too. The glacier itself was a treat for Floridians as we never thought we would actually get to touch or walk on one! Usually, you only view them from a distance on a boat. We also enjoyed the dining view from the Long Rifle Lodge above it. We had lunch there. The picture windows provide a view that is gorgeous and all of the native animal taxidermy in the restaurant are fun to explore!

  6. The following was submitted by Gary:

    I thought you might like an update on the fee situation (The entrance fee is $15.00 for adults; $12.50 for seniors; students & military are $10.00 and children 6-12 are $5.00, under 6 are free.) – about which I share your disdain. It’s also interesting the new website doesn’t mention this cost or that this is a private enterprise. It’s presented to give the impression of a public venue, e.g., state or federal park.

    Love your site. Thanks for taking the effort.

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