I covered the first 3/4 of the road to Valdez in my previous post First Time Walking on a Glacier so I won’t cover the first part of the journey again, but I will say that every drive is different depending on the light and the clouds and how much water has melted. The last 40 miles of the trip which was all new territory was absolutely amazing and definitely proved that this Highway deserves its designation as one of the most beautiful in America. It was cloudy going down and over Thompson Pass, but it was clear that the views on a clear day would be spectacular. Along with just seeing Valdez we also had a mission, to visit the campgrounds in the area and see which one would be best to stay at for my birthday. Kellie, Bill, Jo, and Ben will all be here and since we have booked a Glacier cruise in Valdez for one of the four days we are taking off, we all thought it would be best to stay close to Valdez. Plus I figure by that point I will want a change of scenery, so I had a list of campgrounds to check out along the way.
The first one is called Blueberry Lake and is a first come, first serve dry campground that costs $15 a night. The sits were well spaced and the views would be spectacular, but they only had a few sites that would fit our and Bill/Kelly’s rig. Since it was first-come, first-serve we regretfully had to pass but I would absolutely recommend staying here if you are passing through the area and it has space. It is buggy though because of the dense foliage so definitely come prepared.
Next up was Keystone Pass which I was really looking forward to. I had been told that two major waterfalls were right off the road, but no description prepared me for the sheer majesty of these falls. I absolutely loved both of them and particularly enjoyed that there was plenty of parking and unlike most major falls you could walk right up to them. Phenomenal!!
Then right down the road was Horsetail Falls. It was hard to pick a favorite, but I think I liked Horsetail better because you could climb the rocks and get “inside” the falls.
It was hard to tear ourselves away, but I knew we had to drive back through the pass to get home so next stop was Allison’s Point. To get to the campground we turned onto Dayville Road prior to reaching Valdez. Whether or not you are going to the campground I definitely recommend the drive as this is a major fish hatchery area and wildlife abounds. We didn’t see any bears but saw an eagle with it’s nest in a tree and two eagles down on a log in the bay. We spent lots of time getting pictures and Lee walked down on the bay and got VERY close to the two eagles getting some amazing shots.
The bay even without the eagles was beautiful and it’s a shame the campground is little more a pull off on the road. The views from the campground weren’t that great either although you could walk down to the water and see some amazing views.
If the sites would have been on the ocean proper I couldn’t have resisted, but we still thought we could do better. I was getting hungry though so we went straight to Valdez and ate at a local place called the Alaska Halibut House. It has been around for some time and at $21 for a full halibut basket (4 pieces of fish and some fries) the prices were pretty steep. The fish was local, and tasted ok plus my half order price of $11.75 was way more reasonable, still I certainly wasn’t blown away.
The dock was pretty though and we went to a fantastic gift shop called Orca Bay Gifts. The place was crammed full of native alaskan made items and Lee was very patient as I went and looked at every single thing. They also had a small army surplus section in the back which kept Lee entertained and we ended up buying a couple of things for the beet harvest.
The town was so beautiful with mountains and or water on all sides but unfortunately we didn’t much care for the town itself. I was really looking forward to visiting the Safeway and found it to be dirty and cramped with some empty shelves (they were out of milk) and rude staff. Plus the prices were no better than the small IGA we have in our town so definitely grocery runs to Valdez are off the table. The folks at the Halibut House weren’t that nice, the in town campgrounds were cramped little parking lots and really the whole town (except for that one gift shop) was a serious disappointment. So we headed back out of town and stopped out our last campground on the way, Glacier Campground. Glacier Campground is a military campground that is also open to the public and they had some sites with electric ($30 for 30 amp and $50 for 50 amp) and some older well wooded dry sites. It wasn’t bad by any stretch and was out of town so we thought this might be a good choice.
After getting some information to take back to the group (it’s first come, first serve), we continued down the road because there was a sign that said Valdez Glacier. Wow amd I glad we did, because stumbled across an amazing site. There is a lake that you can kayak on and pieces of glacier in the water that you can walk right up to. So, so cool and completely unexpected. Plus there is a large parking lot back there and no signs that say no overnight camping so we may try some boondocking back there if the group is up for it.
Then we stopped in Old Valdez which is where the town stood prior to being completely destroyed by the Good Friday Tsunami of 1964. It was amazing how the land was taken over in such a short period of time. They had signs showing where the old buildings were and the views were once again spectacular.
Feeling excited we got to drive through Keystone Canyon again and this time we stopped at a tunnel in the rocks that was never finished because of a gun battle. Lee was very excited, but I refused to go all the way in. Instead I wandered down to another great waterfall and we sat on a rock chair overlooking to river and did some smooching. It was a great way to end a wonderful day and whatever you do if you visit Alaska, I definitely recommend the road to Valdez if not Valdez itself.
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