10 - Valdez, AK via Anchorage, AK to Portage, AK
with visits to Palmer and Hatcher Pass
Saturday, July 11, 1998

It rained a lot during the night and was overcast in the morning. Continued north on the Richardson Highway to the Glenn Highway, then west toward Anchorage.

Turned north on a side trip to Lake Louise - good gravel road - with views of the Tazlina Glacier and Lake.

Tazlina Glacier is a 25-mile-long glacier which begins 1.5 miles north of Mount Cashman and flows north to its terminus one mile south of Tazlina Lake and 43 miles north of Valdez. Tazlina Glacier is the largest northward flowing glacier in the Chugach Mountains. The terminus of the glacier is retreating and thinning.

The sun was trying to break through but I'm not sure how my pictures will turn out. Very difficult lighting.

Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska

Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Tazlina Glacier and Lake, Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska

There are numerous pretty ponds and small lakes along the road.

Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska

Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska
Pond along Lake Louise Road off Glenn Highway, Alaska

Louise Lake has several resorts, cabins and two Alaska State Campgrounds. I saw islands in the lake and it looked like a popular fishing area.

Back on the Glenn Highway, crossed Eureka Summit 3322 feet, highest point on the Glenn Highway with good views of the Nelchina Glacier. There appeared to be two glaciers coming together and a pretty BIG mountain partly hiding in the clouds.

Nelchina Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Nelchina Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Nelchina Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Nelchina Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska

Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska
Glacier from Eureka Summit, Glenn Highway, Alaska

Passed Gunsight Mountain 6551 feet which is well named. Pleasant alpine scenery - numerous small lakes and ponds near Tahneta Pass.

Came to a construction area - a motorhome driver didn't like the rough surface and drove at 10 MPH with a long line behind him for many miles. The road really wasn't that bad.

Eventually came to viewpoints for the large Matanuska Glacier which is very difficult to photograph.

Matanuska Glacier is 27 miles long by 4 miles wide, it is the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. Its terminus feeds the Matanuska River. It lies near the Glenn Highway about 100 miles north-east of Anchorage.

The part visible from the highway is very long when first seen - later the view is from the snout looking up its length. Poor viewpoints add to the photographing problem. Very impressive to see, however.

Matanuska Glacier near Palmer, Alaska
Matanuska Glacier near Palmer, Alaska
Parks Highway Map

It started to sprinkle and did so pretty steadily for several hours as I continued on toward Palmer. This section of highway is narrow and not very straight. Lots of interesting mountain scenery even with the clouds. At Palmer, I turned north to Wasilla and stopped at the Best Western Motel on Lake Lucille.

Sunday, July 12, 1998

Woke up to rainy skies but decided to drive up to the Hatcher Pass area and Independence Mine Historical Park. It sprinkled all the way and I arrived before the Mine Park opened, so drove on up to the Pass.

Drifting clouds made interesting scenery even with the limited views. Decided to go on down the other side of the pass and drive out to Willow, AK on the Parks Highway since the mine was pretty much socked in.

Saw some pretty country and a number of beaver dams along Willow Creek.

Hatcher Pass area on way to Willow, Alaska
Hatcher Pass area on way to Willow, Alaska

Hatcher Pass area on way to Willow, Alaska
Hatcher Pass area on way to Willow, Alaska
Beaver dam on Willow Creek on way to Willow, Alaska
Beaver dam on Willow Creek on way to Willow, Alaska

Beaver dam on Willow Creek on way to Willow, Alaska
Beaver dam on Willow Creek on way to Willow, Alaska

Enjoyed the drive and returned to Palmer, AK and on into Chugach State Park - took the two mile round trip hike to Thunderbird Falls which turned out to be just a cascade.

Camped at nearby Eklutna Lake State Campground.

Ekluna Lake, Ekluna Lake Campground, Alaska
Ekluna Lake, Ekluna Lake Campground, Alaska

Monday, July 13, 1998

Slightly cloudy but the sun was trying. Decided to go back to Hatcher Pass.

View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass

View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass
View into Willow Creek valley from Hatcher Pass

Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake, Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Summit Lake outlet, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake outlet, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake outlet, Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Summit Lake outlet, Hatcher Pass, Alaska

From Hatcher Pass I headed for the Independence Mine Historical Park as the clouds lifted and the sun shone and I got some nice pictures of the pretty alpine scenery and the buildings at the Mine.

This was a gold mine that operated about 1936 through 1951 except for a few years during World War II. At the time of my visit the state was in the process of rehabilitating the buildings to make them open to the public but it was still an interesting area.

Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 1998
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 1998
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 2016
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 2016
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 2016
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 2016
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 1998
Independence Mine Historical Park, Alaska - 1998
Click for more Independence Mine Historical Park

Backtracked to Palmer, Alaska.

View on the way back to Palmer from the Independence Mine Historical Park
View on the way back to Palmer from the Independence Mine Historical Park
Little Susinita River on the way back to Palmer from Independence Mine Historical Park
Little Susinita River on the way back to Palmer from Independence Mine Historical Park

Drove to the Musk Ox Farm where Musk Ox are raised to provide "wool" for native crafts persons to weave clothing for income. Had an interesting guide and enjoyed the tour.

The non-profit Musk Ox Farm is dedicated to the domestication of the musk ox, an Ice Age mammal that once roamed the earth alongside saber-tooth tigers and woolly mammoths. Known to Alaska Natives as “Oomingmak”, which means “The Bearded One”, this once-endangered animal produces an annual harvest of qiviut (kiv'-ee-ute), the finest wool in the world.

Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Musk Ox at Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Next drove to the nearby Reindeer Farm. Along the way had views over the Knik River into the Chugach Mountains and Mt. Goode and Mt. Gannett and glaciers.

View from Glenn Highway over Knik River to Mt. Goode (left) and Mt. Gannett (right) near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway over Knik River to Mt. Goode (left) and Mt. Gannett (right)
near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway over Knik River to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier (bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway over Knik River to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier
(bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska

View from Glenn Highway to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier (bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier
(bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier (bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska
View from Glenn Highway to Mt. Goode and Knik Glacier
(bottom behind hills) near Palmer, Alaska

The Reindeer Farm was interesting but was more of a "petting zoo" type arrangement. You could walk out among the Reindeer to feed them, etc. They also had a year old and a month old moose, some elk, and a young deer fawn. Kids and adults alike were enjoying themselves.

Tom and Gene Williams created the Reindeer Farm in 1987. Tom had a dream of owning a moose farm. He and his father were avid moose hunters with a great appreciation for these majestic creatures. In Alaska, it is unlawful to have a moose farm, but reindeer, however, are domesticated animals. A new vision was created!

In 1987, Tom went to Northern Canada to purchase a herd of reindeer. They were brought here to the farm and taught how to eat grains and local hay. The first herd consisted of 20 reindeer. Since 1987, the herd has been as high as 300 but currently sits at around 100.

Tom and Gene have since passed, but farm lives on through their daughters. Their oldest daughter, Denise Williams Hardy, and her family have been running the farm since 2011.

In 2019 the farm has 100 reindeer, 2 Rocky Mountain elk, Dolly the Bison, Appa the Yak, and Rocky the Moose.

Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska
Raindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska

Had some nice scenery in the area and moved on to the Finger Lake State Campground for the night.

Tuesday, July 14, 1998

Another nice day so drove to the Eagle River Nature Center on Eagle River in Chugach State Park and walked the 3.2 mile nature trail. Saw some nice flowers and some ducks in a pond. Wrong time of year for most of the wildlife.

Polar Bear Peak, Eagle Peak and Hurdygurdy Mountain, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Polar Bear Peak, Eagle Peak and Hurdygurdy Mountain, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Flower on nature trail at Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Flower on nature trail at Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Flower on nature trail at Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Flower on nature trail at Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska

Click for more Eagle River Nature Center

On the way out of the area saw a mature female Moose in a pond along the road and stopped to get a picture.

Moose on road near Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Moose on road near Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Moose on road near Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska
Moose on road near Eagle River Nature Center, Chugach State Park, Alaska

Seward Highway map

Continued on to Anchorage where I didn't find anything of particular interest.

Continued south on the Seward Highway and was glad to get away from the city traffic - stopped at Beluga Point but didn't see any whales.

Drove out the Alyeska Highway to see the resort hotel, etc. - saw three glaciers up Glacier Valley.

Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska
Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska

Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska
Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska
Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska
Glacier along Alyeska Highway, Alaska

Returned to the Seward Highway and stopped at a few of the viewpoints along the Turnagain Arm - nothing much to see this time of year. The scenery was nothing special.

View over Turnagain Arm from Seward Highway near Portage, Alaska
View over Turnagain Arm from Seward Highway near Portage, Alaska
View over Turnagain Arm from Seward Highway near Portage, Alaska
View over Turnagain Arm from Seward Highway near Portage, Alaska
20 Mile Glacier near Portage, Alaska
20 Mile Glacier near Portage, Alaska
20 Mile Glacier near Portage, Alaska
20 Mile Glacier near Portage, Alaska

Camped at Black Bear U.S. Forest Service Campground near Portage.