Glaciers, Denali & More
Glaciers are one of the many spectacular natural wonders of Alaska. Many of them are visible from the roadway, or accessible by trail, boat or air.
The Knik and Matanuska Glaciers are both near the Agate Inn. Or drive south on the Seward Highway to visit Portage Glacier.
Knik Glacier, a large valley glacier visible from Palmer and Wasilla, can only be reached by boat or air. It is used as a film backdrop for some very well known movies.
Knik Glacier Tours (907-745-1577), Knik Glacier Adventures (907-746-5133) and Mt. View Knik Glacier Airboat Tours (907-745-5747) offer air boat rides to the glacier with a picnic lunch or dinner. Watch icebergs the size of ten-story buildings tumble into Knik Lake, hike “The Gorge” trail or paddle a raft or kayak around the ice. Grasshopper Adventures (907-746-6923) offers flights over the glacier and lands in a beautiful secluded spot in Grasshopper Valley, with handicap accessible camping.
Another nice drive follows the Glenn Highway (Hwy 1)east about an hour to the Matanuska Glacier. The lodges along the way are nice places for lunch.
Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park
On a clear day, the best views of Mt. McKinley are along the Parks Highway on the way to Talkeetna to mile 140 on the Parks Highway or along the Petersville Road just north of Talkeetna. In Petersville there are a number of trails plus active gold mines and gold panning areas.
While in Talkeetna, stop by the Denali National Park Climbing Headquarters (907-733-2231).
One can drive via Petersville Road to the southern edge of Denali National Park, but there are no facilities or services available on the south side of the Alaska Range. Almost all Park visitors enter from the North side of the Park near the town of Healy, a 3+ hours drive from the Agate Inn. The National Park Service has detailed information on buses, tours and fees.
A flight seeing trip around Mt. McKinley is awesome to say the least. There are several flight services in Palmer, Wasilla and Talkeetna offering flight tours of Mt. McKinley, including Sheldon Air Service(907-733-2321) and Talkeetna Air Taxi (800-533-2219).
Advance reservations are usually not needed. A morning call to flight services to check weather and availability is all you need.
Prices vary from $200 per person to $390 per person depending on flight length and glacier landing options.
Current road conditions and weather reports are available through the State of Alaska Department of Transportation – (800) 478-7675.
Parks Highway, Alaska Highway 3
There are several day excursions worth considering. Drive an hour and a half north along the Parks Highway (Hwy 3) to Talkeetna to tour the historical mining town. The town has a lot of local color. It is the jumping off point for the climbers on their way to or from Mt. McKinley. The Talkeetna Museum of Northern Adventure is worth a visit, and the Denali National Park Climbing Headquarters is also located in downtown Talkeetna.
There are also sled dog tour operators along the Parks Highway that offer summer sled dog rides.Plettner Kennels (907-892-6944) provides sled dog rides in the Big Lake area.
On a clear day, the best views of Mt. McKinley are along the Parks Highway on the way to Talkeetna and to mile 140 on the Parks highway or along the Petersville Road just north of Talkeetna at Trapper’s Creek. In Petersville there are a number of trails plus active gold mines and gold panning areas.
Along the Parks highway you have the opportunity to visit Big Lake, mile 51, a good place to trout fish, with all water sports and many good restaurants. Houston, mile 57, is a good salmon fishing area. Nancy Lake, mile 64, has fishing and water sports,Willow, mile 69 is the northern intersection for the Hatcher Pass road which loops back to Palmer. Willow has a number of good fishing streams and lakes, along with Air services that fly out to remote lodges and camps and float trips. Miners Last Stand museum and jail is also located in Willow.
Glenn Highway, Alaska Highway 1
National Scenic Byway
Another nice drive follows the Glenn Highway(Hwy 1) east about an hour to the Matanuska Glacier. Lodges along the highway can be a nice place for lunch.
On the way to Matanuska Glacier you will pass NOVA Alaska’s Adventure Co. (907-745-5754). Nova has been offering raft trips since 1975. They offer several nice day trips and half day float trips.
There are also fossil beds and great rock hounding areas along the Glenn Highway. You can make a long day trip by going up the Glenn Highway to the Richardson Highway across the Denali Highway (original entrance to Denali Park) and back down the Parks Highway.
Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Alaska Railroad
If you are willing to drive a bit further, there are many points of interest outside our immediate area that are well worth the visit. Or, add more adventure with a ride on the Alaska Railroad.
Many of our guests also take day trips to Whittier (2 hours) for the 26 Glacier Tour (800-544-0529). It is a long day excursion, but everyone enjoys the boat trip and the lunch served on the boat. You usually need to make reservations a couple of days before you plan to go. Another option is to drive to Seward (2.5 hours) for theKenai Fjords Boat Tour (800-478-8068) or Major Marine Tours (800-764-7300). The 26 Glacier tour is highlighted with glaciers, seal, and sea otters and some whales. Kenai Fjords has Puffins, Stellar sea lions and other marine life. Many guests do both trips.
Wasilla is a stop on the Alaska Railroad (800-544-0552). You can take the railroad all the way to Fairbanks or south to Seward. One popular trip is to take the railroad to Denali National Park and back. Talkeetna and back is also a good trip.