Valdez is one of the best places to kayak in Alaska. You will encounter giant glaciers and have a chance to see ice caves and tunnels if you are lucky. There is a lot of opportunities to spend your time on the water. We describe one of them below in more detail.
Welcome to Valdez Alaska
Getting back from Kennicott we could go left or right. 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 there was only one decision 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. It took us no more than 30 minutes to walk this small town back and forth. The interesting thing was to notice fishermen returning from the sea with fresh fish. Just after returning, they were gutting the fish directly in 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!
TRIPTIP: Consider this Valdez Glacier and Icebergs Canoe Tour which has great reviews!
Glacier Encounter in Kayaks
The next day in the morning, we came to Anadyr Adventure office. First, they asked us to sign an insurance waiver claiming they are not responsible for anything, and we go kayaking at our own risk. Regular things in such kind of trips. It didn’t surprise us. It was about 20 people in the group, but fortunately, they divided us into subgroups and dedicated guides to each subgroup.
– And where are you from guys? – One of the guides asked us.
– From Poland – we answered.
– Oh! Great! We had another party from Poland, so we will create one polish group! – She decided.
We started to talk to our new Polish friends. They were from Gdansk, the northern part of Poland, and were traveling Alaska for over three weeks with their tent. When we arrived at kayak launch beach, we agreed with our new polish friends that it is a good idea to take pictures of each other. It was an excellent idea. Thanks to this we have great pictures, and they have too.
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 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 got back to paddling between icebergs and close to the glacier itself. Then it was lunch break. This time we have eaten 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 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 was used as a pipe yard for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and Residents continued to live there for an additional three years while a new site was being prepared on 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 is a city with 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 as well as a freight terminal. But is a well great place for recreation like kayaking in Valdez Alaska.
Before you go – 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, short hike and coffee break, lunch break (you have to bring your lunch!). In reality, you have a chance to improve your kayaking skills, touch the 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 are telling 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.
In Valdez, there is a couple of 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 store, 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 couple of days to get served.
From Valdez you have some great trips:
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