Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier Access, Hikes & Guided Tours

There’s no arguing that it’s a pleasing experience to pull over at the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site along Glenn Highway to view Alaska’s largest and perhaps most stunning glacier accessible by car. BUT LET ME TELL YOU it’s something entirely different and arguably far more fulfilling to hike on the glacier, to put yourself in such a surreal environment, to breath the brisk air of the glacier’s micro climate, to taste the fresh melt-water, and put your hands on the glacier surface then report back home you’ve melted your hand print into ice that is thousands of years old!

Having taken many family and friends to the Matanuska Glacier for short hikes over the years I can honestly say that a glacier hands-on Matanuska Glacier experience is always one of the biggest highlights of any trip to Alaska and the Anchorage area.

Matanuska Glacier of Alaska Access, Hikes and Guided Tours in Summer and Winter
Visit the Glacier Access Website

Matanuska Glacier access is made possible by Matanuska Glacier Adventures located on a dirt drive just .9 miles past the Matanuska State Recreation Site, on the East side of the Wickersham Trading Post. It’s important to note that the state recreation site affords views of the glacier only, but not access. Fortunately the Matanuska Glacier Adventures drive is maintained year-round, includes a bridge that crosses the Matanuska River, and leads visitors strait to the ice. Glacier access fees of roughly $20 per person (senior and local discounts available) are worth ever penny; not only for the experience and memories but to support maintenance of the access drive, parking lot and trails/paths on the glacier. Otherwise, visitors would be left to the mercy of Mother Nature.

That said, self-guided tours and hikes of Matanuska Glacier are very common and encouraged. Matanuska Glacier Adventures helps all visitors by placing cones on the glacier to mark safe pathways and even installs boards and metal bridges where welting water or mud can be a hazard. However, many visitors will still appreciate additional assistance Matanuska Glacier Adventures provides in the form of guided tours and hikes, ice climbing tours, and the gear to keep you safe and provide better traction on the ice.

Kelly Cartwright takes glacier exploration to a whole new level with a glacier silt mud pedicure. Photo by Justin Matley
Kelly Cartwright takes glacier exploration to a whole new level with a glacial silt mud pedicure. Photo by Justin Matley

Can just about anyone walk around on the glacier? Absolutely! But travel will be limited to the easier, flat surfaces of the glacier. With a guided tour in summer or winter, visitors now become explorers with the gear to help them navigate moderate slopes, and the guide’s knowledge of the ever-changing ice to lead guests strait to some of the glacier’s secret caves and captivating blue ice.

Matanuska Glacier Adventures provides glacier access and guided tours in both summer and WINTER! That’s right. For anyone visiting Alaska and the Anchorage area in the winter time, a trip to Matanuska Glacier should be at the top of the bucket list for things to do in this state. Either season, short tours are welcome or guests can opt for a longer day of exploring to get the biggest bang for their buck. Take advantage of ample time for those artistic scenic photos, group photos and stunning videos to show the couch potatoes back home. Nothing encourages the spirit of exploration like a hands-on, first-person account of one of Earth’s most incredible forces… the mighty glacier.

Assisted by a little erosion, Glaciers carved all the land around us. Mountains and valleys in every direction along the scenic two hour drive from Anchorage to Matanuska Glacier are a constant and breathtaking reminder of that fact. A drive of the scenic highway helps visitors understand the true forces at work as the glacier slowly snakes its way through the mountains carrying away rock and soil as it goes, then finally melting to form the Matanuska River. The river continues the course passing through Palmer, Alaska before spilling into Knik Arm. All you see has been affected by this glacier or another, and visitors to Alaska have a unique opportunity to get up-close and personal with an active glacier still leaving its mark on the land.

Matanuska Glacier Adventures is licensed and insured with 34 years experience of backcountry guiding experience. Whether visitors are simply looking for glacier access or a guided hike or longer tour, they welcome everyone to see, witness and explore one of Alaska’s—if not the world’s—greatest treasures.

Plan your trip! Greater details of the giuded tours, access fees and the glacier itself should be investigated online, matanuskaglacieradventures.us.

Additional Matanuska Glacier information: