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Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

We try to appreciate the small things in life, like good people. We romanticize sips of coffee or the sun on our skin to make each day worth living. But if you are anything like me, these things only keep you ticking for so long. Your soul longs for something deeper, something far outside the realm of everyday lifestyle. For some of us living inside the box of a nine to five job or the success of the "American Dream", is not a dream at all. I do not live to work, I work to live. "What is truly living?", one might ask. It is something different to everyone but to me living is moments like when I took the photo above.

Twenty seven miles long and four miles wide, Matanuska is a sight to see. Not only is it the most beautiful glacier I have ever seen, it is the largest glacier accessible by car in the US, making it a very convenient option. Located in Alaska about 100mi from Anchorage, many take a scenic day trip to see the wonders of the great Matanuska.

The glacier is only accessible with an experienced guide, due to the severe danger of falling in a crevasse, getting lost, etc. So of course being the person I am, my first question to our lovely guide was what happened here that caused them to enforce a law forbidding guide less hikers. Fueling my curiosity, as well as my anxiety, the guide went on to tell us about three young men who went for a hike on the glacier and mysteriously never returned. What happened we'll never know. They could have fallen into a crevasse, which is not life threatening if you are left uninjured by the fall and have the proper equipment to climb out of the crevasse. Another theory is they fell into a moulin. A moulin is a well-like circle receding down hundreds of meters to the bottom of the glacier. Sounds like the best water slide of your life, until being plunged into freezing cold water, unavoidably meeting your death. Moulins are the glaciers recycling system, they take on water melting on the surface of the glacier and use it to promote movement or calving. I believe those men were recycled into the mouth of the glacier, never to be seen again.

Our guide also told us a tale of a woman who set out to hike the entire length of the glacier. All alone for 31 days she hiked and camped on the glacier. Her plan for a helicopter pick up once she reached the end of the glacier was set into motion early when she was faced with chest high snow, while wearing snow shoes. Making it 23 miles of the 27, whoever this woman was, in my eyes she is a legend.

What do you need to know before visiting the glacier?

How far is Matanuska Glacier?

If you are coming from Anchorage, wake up early because it is about a 2.5 hour drive. I happen to be staying in Palmer, making the drive just a little over an hour. Also taking into consideration all driving takes longer in winter but the drive is extremely scenic anyways, so you will want to soak it up.

Should I book my visit to Matanuska Glacier ahead of time?

In summer, everything is much busier, I would suggest booking ahead. I went in winter, everything is so laid back in Alaska in general and especially in the winter. We booked the morning of our visit for 11am, ended up being late but since they were fully booked, we hopped on the 12pm tour. So at least in winter, it seems they are very flexible.

How much does a Matanuska Glacier tour cost?

The company is simply listed Glacier Tours, it will pop up as that on maps. Year round the tours run $125 per person, unless you are an Alaskan resident, active military or under 14.

When do Matanuska Glacier tours depart?

Tours depart every day at 10am, 11am, 12pm & 2pm. I would leave plenty of time for driving and at least 30 min to check in at the gift shop and drive to where the tour begins.

How long is the Matanuska Glacier tour?

The tour lasts 1.5 - 2 hours.

Can I fly my drone during the Matanuska Glacier tour?

Online it says you cannot fly your drone during the tour but after the tour once we returned to our cars, I flew my drone back over to the glacier. The cars are parked close enough to the glacier that as long as your drone can go a mile or so, you should be able to make it over just fine.

What should I wear when visiting Matanuska Glacier?

When visiting Matanuska glacier in summer, you should wear long pants, a light jacket, hiking boots, sunglasses and bring a water bottle to fill with glacier water! When visiting in winter you need layers. If you have a ski or snowboarding suit, I suggest wearing that. You will also need a warm hat, gloves and insulated hiking boots. The company provides crampons.

Is Matanuska Glacier worth visiting?

YES! Matanuska glacier is a gem, nestled in the mountains of Alaska. YOU CANNOT MISS IT. Coming from a seasoned traveller who did a lot of activities in Alaska, (dog sledding, plane tour, snowboarding, etc) believe me when I say this glacier tour was amazing, I really mean it.

Are the tour guides working for Glacier Tours reliable and accommodating?

I cannot speak for every guide but the man leading my group was exceptional. Knowledgeable about the glacier, made sure everyone was safe but not only these fundamental thing but just over all a good vibe. He told me the stories I mentioned above and since it was a slow day, he took us a mile further than the tour usually goes (with consent from each person on the tour). Let me tell you, it is a small world. Our guide was from Delray Beach Florida, exactly where we live and get this, he moved to Alaska after his wife passed away because that was their favorite place. If thats not touching, I don't know what is.

What brought me to Matanuska glacier?

I have been a travel fanatic for years. Due to covid I have been traveling more in country, so I thought, where is the most epic place in the US to visit? ALASKA! Traveling sparked my love for photography and that led me to the starting my business Brogans Photography & Film. If you like my Matanuska glacier photos, check out my portfolio on my website! If you live in South Florida and are in need of photography I'm your girl.

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