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Top 10 Ways to Get up Close to an Alaska Glacier

With so many glaciers within a day’s travel of Anchorage, Alaska’s frozen wonders are easily within reach. Check out our top 10 list for exploring glaciers near Anchorage:

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1.  Portage Glacier and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center

Travel 50 miles south of Anchorage along one of the most scenic roads in the nation to stroll along the iceberg-choked lake left behind by the retreating Portage Glacier. See award-winning exhibits and the film "Voices from the Ice." Take an interpretive walk or iceworm safari and hop aboard the MV Ptarmigan for a one-hour cruise to the face of the glacier.

2.  Matanuska Glacier

Approximately 90 miles north of Anchorage, Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site offers excellent views of the 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier. The Edge Nature Trail leads through the forest to glacier viewing platforms. Several companies offer guided day hikes on Matanuska and other glaciers near Anchorage including Exit Glacier.

3.  Dog Sled Adventures

In summer, glaciers provide plenty of chances to explore Alaska's state sport and one of the oldest methods of transportation – dog sledding. Fly out to a kennel set up on a nearby glacier for a snowy, short-sleeved sledding adventure! 

4. Kenai Fjord National Parks Day Cruise

From March through September narrated cruises depart several times daily from the port of Seward, 130 miles south of Anchorage. Watch calving glaciers, sea lion colonies, several species of whales, otters bobbing along in the current, puffins skimming along the water and Dall porpoises frolicking in the bow waves of boats.

5. Prince William Sound Day Cruise

Cruise the protected, calm waters of Prince William Sound. Wildlife, such as sea otters, whales, sea birds and seals are often encountered basking on floating icebergs, but it’s the incredible number of alpine, cirque, piedmont and active tidewater glaciers that are the most impressive aspect of Prince William Sound. Glacier cruises are available May through September and depart from town of Whittier, 60-miles south of Anchorage.  

6. Kayaking

Kayaking amid icy chunks in Prince William Sound is only the beginning of paddling options. Eklutna Glacier feeds into Eklutna Lake’s pristine waters. Paddle out, then pedal back along the shore on the return trip. Resurrection Bay (Seward) and Kachemak Bay (Homer) all offer outstanding sea kayaking as well. 

7. Flightseeing Trips

For a truly high-altitude glacier visit, book a helicopter or bush plane flight to tour a whole host of glaciers in a single trip. Touch down for an up close look; dependable operators offer year-round flightseeing tours from Anchorage, many of which include glacier landings or land on lakes in sight of massive glaciers.

8. Guided Snowmobiling

Zipping through remote backcountry on snowmobile is a favorite Alaska winter pastime and an exhilarating way to access glaciers, icebergs and ice caves. Guided trips accommodate every rider’s skill level.

9.  Railroad Day Trips

The Glacier Discovery Train is the ticket to the Alaska Railroad whistle-stop at Spencer Glacier. Here, you can disembark for short hike with a U.S. Forest Service ranger, gear up with crampons and helmet for a glacier trek or hop on a boat for a gentle float among icebergs. Or you can stay on board the train and continue to Grandview Valley to enjoy the spectacular scenery through large picture windows. 

10. Dinner with a View

From decks perched at the summit of Alyeska Resorrt's aerial tram in Girdwood, spot seven named glaciers in the surrounding mountains. The Glacier Express Cafe, Roundhouse Museum and the AAA four-diamond Seven Glaciers restaurant each offer stunning views of the glaciers as well as the valley below.