It doesn’t necessarily take a boat, helicopter or 10-day hike to see some impressive glaciers in Alaska. In fact, some of Alaska’s best-known glaciers are visible from the highway system and many can be seen up-close after a relatively short trail walk. Below is a list of some of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers.
The Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier in Alaska that can be reached by road. It is 26 miles long and 4 miles wide at its terminus. It originates from within the Chugach mountain range of Southcentral Alaska.
The pullout for Matanuska Glacier is at mile 91.7 and there are several more pullouts further down the highway.
You can also explore the Matanuska glacier ice up-close at the privately-owned Matanuska Glacier Park (Glenn Highway milepost marker 102). The $20 entrance fee gives travelers access to drive up to and park next to the glacier. From there, if you wish, you can continue on foot onto the ice in about fifteen minutes.
Exit Glacier in Seward is the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by road. To get to Exit Glacier, turn on to Herman Leirer Road, commonly called “Exit Glacier Road,” at mile 3 of the Seward Highway. There is a nice viewpoint 7 miles down the road. From there you can continue another mile and a half to the nature center at the end of the road where you can continue by trail to get closer views of the Glacier.
Byron Glacier, only 50 mile southeast of Anchorage, can be accessed from the Seward Highway. At mile 79 of the Seward Highway, turn north on the Portage Valley Road. The trailhead is located just past the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center (about 5 miles down the road) near Portage Lake. An easy 1.4 mile trail leads to close-up views of the glacier
There are several put-outs on the Richardson Highway with nice views of the Worthington Glacier. You can take a paved public path to close-up views of the Worthington Glacier at the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site, about 30 miles from Valdez.
Mendenhall Glacier is Alaska’s famous “drive-in” glacier. It is only 13 miles from downtown Juneau along a paved road. The glacier can be viewed from the road or from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Centre. There are a few easy trails with closer views of the glacier.