Glenallen is a natural stopping point on the way to Valdez and I kept hearing from our guests how beautiful the drive down there was. Their feedback, coupled with the fact that this road was named one of the most beautiful in America made the drive an obvious choice for our first sight seeing day trip. Our goal was to make it down to Worthington Glacier and put a major check on my bucket list by walking on it. So we got up on Sunday, packed a lunch, and headed out. The first 40 miles or so from Glenallen was nothing special. The road is not in great shape (it’s not Tok Cutoff bad, but not great) and the scenery was largely forest. Then about 40 miles in, we saw this.
One of the coolest parts of the drive from that point forward, and something it actually took me awhile to realize, was there were waterfalls everywhere. The lines of snow coming down from the mountains are actually part snow and part waterfall. Once I was clued in, I was transfixed. I haven’t seen that many waterfalls all in one place since I visited Kauai with my mom, and being able to stop and take pictures of them was amazing.
Along with the numerous waterfalls was breathtaking scenery. Glacier rivers ran through the scenes along with many different types of mountain terrain. It really was a feast for the eyes and it was difficult not to stop every 5 seconds and take a picture.
We also caught some glimpses of the pipeline as we traveled. I have been hearing about the pipeline my whole life and I don’t know what I expected but aesthetically it wasn’t really a big deal. I can’t comment on how it impacts animals, but the pipeline itself was largely unobtrusive as it sat pretty far back from the road and usually was hidden by pine forest.
Then suddenly we turned a corner, and there was the glacier. We had seen a glacier on the way to Alaska, but the Worthington Glacier is much closer to the road and appears much bigger. It has been designated a Federal Monument and there is a nice day use area to park in so you can walk up. The terrain to get there is loose gravel, but if you are careful it’s definitely walkable. Or you can just stop at the paved section and take a picture from there. If you are at all able though I absolutely recommend walking up. I’ll let the pictures show you why.
What I didn’t expect were the waterfalls. The running water has cut the most beautiful “stair-step” gorge, and we actually spent more time on the rocks with the water. The people who were visiting largely just looked at the glacier and skipped the waterfall area, so we were along down there for a long time. Unfortunately, Lee kept leaning closer and closer to get “the shot” and I finally said “Veto” because I was afraid he was going to fall in. The water was running very fast and going into the gorge would have been extremely dangerous. He was having a wonderful time though. I got some of the best pictures of him I have ever gotten and he said it was in his top 5 experiences since becoming a full timer.
It was an absolutely lovely day and we could have pressed on and seen more, but we decided to call it a day. We are here for several months and there is no need to cram it all in, so we drove back home had a nice dinner, watched some TV and went to bed. Some things are special enough that they should really stand on their own and this experience was definitely like that.
Here’s some of the video Lee shot. If you have the bandwidth, be sure to watch it in 1080 and full screen. He didn’t put in any music because the waterfalls make their own music.
(I take no responsibility for the video making you need to pee. – Lee)
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The drive to Valdez was our favorite in all of Alaska. Except maybe the 115 miles of dirt on the Denali Road East of the Parkway. You got some great photos! There were fewer waterfalls,when we were there in late July.
Thanks. I am really glad we went earlier in the season for exactly that reason . One of the perks of being here several months.
Love, love the pictures. How beautiful. I have to ask, was it cold? Looks a little cold to be but I am sure well worth it.
You knew it was weird. The wind was chilly and near the falls there was some spray so I truly appreciated the gloves and ear muffs, but when he wind died down was very pleasant. Didn’t feel cold enough for the snow for sure.
Happy yo see that you guys made it down there! We passed the glacier on our way to Valdez vowing to stop on our way back. Great photos!!!!!!
It was so so beyond what I expected. Love when that happens and thanks. Despite the clouds it was a good picture day.
Hey another thing I meant to say about your experiences. You also have to consider WHEN you have your experiences. There was a campground that we visited our first year camping, maybe our second or third trip. We really liked it at the time, but would probably not go back now. Now we have found other places we like better, and there are other places we havent seen yet that we want to. Still, that doesnt diminish the fun we had that weekend. We have a favorite campground. Good friends of ours and camping buddies had been there once a few years ago and not liked it. We got them to go back, and now they love it. All experiences depend on context. Maybe if you visited Glenallen five years from now, you would say “meh”. But right now you are enjoying it. Go with it.
Tracy, great detailed blog. It makes us want to be there with you guys. The pictures are amazing! We’ve outgrown the bucket list. Our list of places to visit and see is now a wheelbarrow list. 🙂
LOL Well luckily we have lots of time!!
I really look forward to your blogs. I love the pictures.
Love the photos & Lee’s video but I have to go P now
Lol he said the same thing !!
Glad you got to get down and dirty with a glacier, Trace! They are pretty amazing. 🙂
sitting here enjoying your post on Another day of 90 plus degrees! Your pictures and video are fabulous! Glad to see you enjoying your Alaska travels and thank you for sharing with us….poor sun baked folks in the lower 48! 🙂
One of the great parts of the life is we follow the weather! It’s so beautiful up here. The hottest it has been is 75
Great pics and awesome video! Hope we get to see it in person!
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