Valdez is one of the best places to kayak in Alaska. If you are lucky, you will encounter giant glaciers and have a chance to see ice caves and tunnels. There are a lot of opportunities to spend your time on the water. We describe one of them below in more detail.This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Valdez Alaska – Introduction
This article shares some of our experiences from kayaking in Valdez, Alaska.
However, after four road trips through Alaska, we have prepared more exciting content for you. So if you plan your Alaska adventure, please check also some of our top Alaska articles:
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- 10 best places to visit on your trip to Alaska
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- 27 Top Things to do in Homer Alaska
Welcome to Valdez Alaska
Getting back from Kennecott, we could go left or right. The right was the apparent direction to Anchorage and the rest of Alaska, but left… Left was the dead-end road to the village of Valdez. We were so close to this small town that only one decision was possible. Let’s see what is so exciting there! And five hours later, we arrived at this remote location. We saw an excellent harbor in the last rays of the setting sun. Walking this small town back and forth took us no more than 30 minutes. The interesting thing was to notice fishermen returning from the sea with fresh fish. Just after returning, they gutted the fish directly at designated tables of the marina. We got starving! It looked tasty!
The plan for the next day was to do some hiking, but in the meantime, we spotted Anadyr Adventures on one of the main streets – they had great pictures of ice caves and glaciers seen from colorful kayaks. That was it! Alaska without kayaking is not Alaska. We decided to register for a trip kayaking in Valdez Glacier, Alaska, the next morning. It was getting dark. We headed to find a nice spot for the night. It turned out that the marina was perfect for it. They even had showers! Not cheap, but still, showers!
TRIP TIP: Consider this Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez or Meares Glacier & Wildlife Cruise Excursion from Valdez if you dream of seeing some wildlife such as eagles, puffins, harbor seals, sea otters, and even whales. Marine wildlife with the glaciers in the background is a spectacular experience!
Glacier Encounter in Kayaks
The next day in the morning, we came to the Anadyr Adventure office. First, they asked us to sign an insurance waiver claiming they were not responsible for anything, and we went kayaking at our own risk. Regular things in such kind of trips. It didn’t surprise us. There were about 20 people in the group, but fortunately, they divided us into subgroups and dedicated guides to each.
The whole kayaking in Valdez Alaska excursion was planned for 6 hours, but in practice, it was divided into three parts. After the first part, we had a small hike to Valdez Glacier viewpoint and a hot drink break. This time it was on the Anadyr Adventure, and the guide told us an exciting story and served excellent hot drinks. The view was amazing, as you can see in the pictures. After this short break, we paddled between icebergs and close to the glacier itself. Then it was lunch break. This time we ate our prepared lunch at a lovely glacier beach in fantastic sun rays. It was a warm day in this frozen land. The last part was a lot of paddling back to the launch beach. We were delighted with our kayak adventure and got back to Valdez. Another short walk and that was it.
A little bit of the history of Valdez
But it’s worth mentioning the story of this place. The city of Valdez was severely shaken but not destroyed in the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Soil liquefaction of the glacial silt that formed the city’s foundation led to a massive underwater landslide, which caused a section of the city’s shoreline to break off and sink into the sea. The underwater soil displacement caused a local tsunami 30 feet (9.1m) high that traveled westward, away from the city and down Valdez Bay. Thirty-two men, women, and children were on the city’s main freight dock to help with and watch the unloading of the SS Chena, a supply ship that came to Valdez regularly. All 32 people died as the pier collapsed into the ocean with the violent landslide. There were no deaths in the town.
The Valdez townsite was abandoned and relocated following the 1964 earthquake and used as a pipe yard to construct the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Residents continued to live there for an additional three years while a new site was being prepared on the more stable ground four miles (6 km) away. The Army Corps of Engineers supervised the new construction. They transported 54 houses and buildings by truck to the new site to re-establish the new city at its present location. The original townsite was dismantled, abandoned, and eventually burned down.
Nowadays, Valdez has a population of 3976 (as of 2010). The town was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdes v Fernandez Bazan. A former Gold Rush town is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port and a freight terminal. But it is a great recreation place, like kayaking in Valdez, Alaska.
Before you go to Valdez – Practical Information
Anadyr Adventures has a different kind of kayaking in Valdez Alaska trips – you can find details on their page.
Our trip – to Valdez Glacier took 6 hours (145 USD pp)- about 2.5 hours was real kayaking. The rest was transportation to and from the landing place, a short hike, a coffee break, and a lunch break (you must bring your lunch!). In reality, you have a chance to improve your kayaking skills, touch icebergs and visit the ice cave or ice tunnel (if you have luck and proper conditions are met, because those forms are volatile and dangerous, so not each time you have a chance to encounter it!). For sure, you have an opportunity to get an excellent knowledge of the area and its history. Guides are well-prepared and tell beautiful and exciting stories.
You do not have to take any special gear with you because everything will be provided by Anadyr Adventures – boots, jackets, dry bags, etc. They provide a packing list, so you will be sure what to take and what to leave home on your trip.
Valdez has a few hotels, campgrounds, and RV parks, so you can have all the expected media if needed. Besides that, there is a big Safeway store, gas station, some hardware stores, etc. You can go fishing from here to catch some halibut or salmon. Definitely, this is not the place for hiking because they are weak here. Much better on Thompson Pass ahead of the town.
There’s only one car repair. If you have a problem, count even a few days to get served.
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