Alaska Winter Glacier in siachen

Alaska glaciers are everywhere. Alaska has the nation’s greatest concentration of glaciers; approximately 100,000 of them cover nearly 30,000 square miles. The glaciers near Anchorage are among the most accessible.

Glaciers have shaped the Anchorage area for thousands of years. Visiting one can be the trip of a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean it is difficult. By boat and plane, on foot, behind a team of dogs and even sitting at a first-class restaurant with views of seven nearby glaciers – Anchorage is your window on Alaska’s best glaciers.

Spend the day exploring the countless glaciers of Prince William Sound. Or, float at the face of Portage Glacier just minutes after leaving the dock. Listen for the cracking sound that builds to a rumbling crescendo as ice shears off the face of the glacier and crashes into the water below. Glacier cruises in this part of Alaska range from one hour to a full day.

Watching a glacier calve from the deck of a boat is just one way to get up close with these cobalt giants. Paddle a kayak through glacial lakes and navigate the tiny bergs that dot the surface. Follow hiking trails to the toe of a glacier in one of Southcentral’s state or national parks; whether camping out overnight or just stretching the legs for a few minutes, arctic wonders await.

Strap on crampons, grab an ice axe and go vertical; experienced climbing guides can help even novices climb Alaska’s glaciers. For a truly high-altitude glacier visit, book a helicopter or bush plane flight – several flightseeing companies offer glacier landings inside Denali National Park – and have a summer snowball fight in the shadow of North America’s tallest mountain. Or chopper out to untouched ice fields for snow-filled dog mushing fun under the midnight sun.

Perhaps the most intimate way to experience the awesome scale of Alaska’s glaciers is on the water. The tidewater glaciers of Prince William Sound and the Kenai Fjords extend down from mountain peaks and out into the sea. Hundreds of feet high and miles long, you can the hear ice crackling and sizzling as trapped air bubbles slowly escape. One of the most dramatic events in all of nature is witnessing a tidewater glacier unleash a house-sized block of ice into the ocean. The resulting icebergs can create enormous waves when they hit (kayakers beware!) and can continue bobbing up and down for a full day or more until they float out into open waters or beach themselves along the Alaskan shoreline. Cruises and sea kayak trips also let you see lots of marine life, such as playful sea otters and shy harbor seals.

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