Matanuska Valley Road Trip

Driving the Glenn Highway

The Glenn Highway from Palmer to Tok is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the United States, featuring an incredible Matanuska Valley road trip. It could be said that the drive, which winds between the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains is more beautiful than the drive to Denali, as the weather is often clearer and you can enjoy 360 degree views of mountains. Although it still is Alaska, and it is worthless to expect weather of any kind, the Matanuska Valley is often clear when other areas are cloudy or rainy.

Although the drive from Anchorage to Palmer is not bad either, it is not until you pass Palmer that the real beauty and interesting Alaskan stops begin.

Reindeer Farm Turnoff MP 49.5

Reindeer Farm Website

Heading right off the mile marker you’ll soon find yourself in the quaint town of Butte. A family owned and operated farm offers a chance to feed reindeer, learn more about them, and have some up close and personal experiences! They also have some other animals in recovery that hold residency on the farm and you can see them too. This is an interactive experience perfect for many!

feed reindeer in Alaska

Independence Mine State Historical Park and Hatcher Pass Turn Off MP 49.5

Head about 20 miles up from Palmer on the Fishhook-Willow road to experience the beauty of Hatcher Pass. Full of hiking trails as well as some rock climbing, there are lots of outdoor recreational opportunities. For something a little bit more relaxing, visit the Independence Mine historical park where you can learn what life was like during the gold rush.

person running up trail near waterfall

Musk Ox farm – MP 50

Take a scenic stroll through a functioning Musk Ox farm just outside of Palmer and learn about the history and current uses of these slow yet strong arctic creatures. You can’t touch the animals, but you can touch a skull and make sure to pick up one of the incredibly soft qiviut garments made from the soft underbelly wool of the musk ox!

Alpine Historical Park MP 61.6

Provides a look into the past of the Matanuska valley through a variety of historical buildings and informational signs. An open air museum and grassy areas provide opportunities to learn about history as well as have a place to hang out. Although not necessarily curated towards tourists, pull over at this quiet stop to get off the beaten path and learn about the history of coal mining and the native Athabascan people from the area.

King Mountain Recreational Site MP 76

With 22 campsites and a beautiful view of the valley, King Mountain is a great place to camp or just enjoy the beauty of the Matanuska river.

Glenn highway recreation areas

NOVA River Guides MP 96

Experience the rush of the Matanuska river on a raft with NOVA guides. Head down the class 3-4 rapids of the Lions Head section, or float the glacial runoff coming off of the Matanuska glacier for a silty, unforgettable river experience.

silty river and green mountains

Glacier View Adventures MP 99

With fun for the whole family, Glacier View Adventures is a must see for any traveler on the Glenn highway. Helicopter tours will take you high above the Matanuska glacier for a birds eye view, while the fastest zipline in Alaska takes you over the Matanuska river. Get up in the Talkeetna mountains on an ATV for a more mud based adventure, and search for blueberries in the tundra!

people ziplining along Glenn Highway

Alpenglow Luxury Camping MP 102.5

Get away from the crowds and enjoy a view of the Matanuska glacier from out of your hand built canvas tent at Alpenglow. With a cedar hot tub, and lots of firewood, there is never a chance to be cold while staying at these off-the-grid accommodations. Make sure to grab a fresh baked blueberry muffin in the morning before heading out to your next adventure. And, you can’t forget to check out their epic overnight glacier camping experience!

canvas tent in the woods

MICA Guides 102.5

Join MICA guides for the glacier experience of a Matanuska Valley road trip! Try ice climbing or experience the depths of the glacier on an advanced trek, or take a stroll around the front of the glacier on the Ice Fall trek. MICA guides emphasizes safety, information and fun on the ice. They even have an antique ice truck operating as an espresso stand that serves sweet treats and ice cream.

people walking on glacier

Sheep Mountain Lodge MP 113

While driving the Glenn Highway, you have to stop at the historic Sheep Mountain Lodge. And, at least to try their famous triple berry crisp. While your at it, you might as well get the cinnamon roll too. You won’t be disappointed.

Pretty much anything the kitchen makes is delicious. Their log cabins make for a beautiful place to spend the night as well. Enjoy some beautiful views of the red and gold streaked Sheep Mountain where Dall sheep like to roam. They have some of the best hiking and cross-country trails around. A great destination no matter the season you visit in.

historic cabins in Alaska

Eureka Summit MP 129.3

Here, at the high point on the highway, you’ll find yourself 3,322 feet above sea level. Enjoy views of the Nelchina glacier in the southwest, and intraformational signs about the gold rush.

Lake Louise State Recreational Area MP 158

Drive 16 miles at this junction to see the beauty of Lake Louise. Enjoy the fishing, hiking, berry picking, or camping by the lake. A nice place to hang out with the whole family.

Driving the Glenn highway is an experience that shouldn’t be missed by any visitor to Alaska. It can be a really nice way to link the drives to Fairbanks, Valdez, and Denali. You can do this by making a complete loop on the Parks, Richardson, and Glenn highways.

Enjoy the rivers, glaciers, mountains and wildlife that sit near the highway. And, make sure to stop often to take in the sights both on and off the beaten path. Adventure is easily accessible on this highway.