Valdez we were told by a local is called little Switzerland. It sure feels that way once you get about 30 miles away from it. The majestic mountains surrounding you as you drive through with breathtaking waterfalls coming down. Coming into Valdez you pass Bridal and Horsetail falls, which are just spectacular. Jason said many times that this town felt magical to him. We stayed for 3 nights and had rain for all of them. It would be a breathtaking view from town had it been a clear day.
I have to admit, the rain was sure affecting my mood and wearing all of us down. Up to this point, we only experienced 2 sunny days in Alaska and were starting to feel depressed by the rainy cold, damp weather. 3 nights we spent in Valdez and all of them had rained without any clearing. A couple of times we thought, “should we just head south from here?” As we say this with our furnace on, warm ski socks on and dressed for winter haha. With Jason getting over a cold and Annalise just starting one, we decided to cut our next plan to Chitna. It would have been a 2 hour drive to McCarthy and then a long hike into the glacier in the rain that we just didn’t think our family was up for. So with that, we decided to head on towards Denali after Valdez. Fingers crossed for some sunshine!
Where we stayed
Bear Paw RV Park in the middle of Valdez. This was a great spot for us to be in walking distance of pretty much everything in town. Right across from the water it was perfect. It is a gravel side by side RV park but we had full hook-ups, super fast WiFi and you couldn’t beat the location. We had full bars of LTE for our AT&T lines, this did however only occur within 8 miles of town. There was no service for about an hour after leaving Valdez. This was a gravel RV park and we did have to walk Kenya around the corner past the RV park to get some grass for her which was not ideal in this cold rainy weather.
What we did
GOLD RUSH DAYS FESTIVAL
Gold Rush days happened to be going on the weekend we were there. We just arrived when a wine walk was happening in town where we saw lots of participants dressed up in their festive gold rush attire. We would have loved to partake in that! We did tour around the next day and went to the outdoor market to listen to some live music and have some pie.
LU-LU BELLE GLACIER CRUISE
Lu-Lu Belle Cruise came highly recommended by other travelers. What we liked about it was that it had the wildlife viewing that Annalise loves and also the glacier views up close and personal that Jason and I wanted to see. It was a full day with puffin and whale sightings as well as some jellyfish and sea otters. The highlight though was cruising right up to the glacier. Just seeing it up close seemed unreal. Chunks of ice floated around us like nothing we had ever seen. It was freezing outside with the cold wind and rain but Jason braved it outside the full hour we were at the glacier. Just taking in the beauty of the glacier, he talked about that moment for days. One of our best days for sure!
Worthington Glacier just outside of Valdez is free to go and hike or just go to see. We went there on leaving Valdez excited to hike it! We chose a strenuous hike with crampons in tow (which we thought would lead us to the glacier) up a steep ridge and panoramic views. Making it through the ridge, overgrown bushes and then up a muddy hill (that I slide down!) we decided to call it and turn around as it was getting too dangerous to go on. On the way back down, we were walking along the ridge and I stopped just to take in the view. Seeing my hubby and daughter ahead of me with the sights of the glacier and mountains all around me I just felt in bliss. It is these moments that I remember why we are doing this, these phenomenal moments that make the hard times of RV life worth conquering for these moments. Although we didn’t make it to the glacier, we had amazing views from a fantastic hike. We realized after the majority of the hike that we took the wrong one to get to the glacier. I think the best way to get to the glacier would have been from the trail at the bottom that starts near the parking lot when we re-looked at AllTrails. Lesson learned, before you go out on a hike into an area with no service, download the trail map and understand where you are going!
What we missed
We had heard good things about the fish hatchery but ran out of time to do it.