Palmer, Alaska Visitor Guide
Palmer, Alaska is a charming small town located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Known for its agricultural roots, scenic beauty, and friendly community, Palmer offers a delightful experience for visitors. This guide will cover Palmer’s latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, history, famous people, RV and camping information, and annual festivals and events.
Palmer is situated at approximately 61.5997° N latitude and 149.1128° W longitude.
Getting to Palmer from Anchorage
Palmer is located about 42 miles north-east of Anchorage. The most common way to reach Palmer is by car.
From Anchorage, take AK-1 N/Glenn Highway towards Palmer. The drive takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Things to Do
Palmer offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Alaska State Fair
The annual Alaska State Fair, held in late August to early September, is one of the largest events in Alaska. The fair features live entertainment, agricultural exhibits, carnival rides, and a variety of food vendors.
Colony House Museum
Step back in time at the Colony House Museum, a restored 1935 Colony house that showcases the history of Palmer and the Matanuska Colony. The museum provides insight into the lives of the original colonists and their families.
Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park
Explore the scenic Hatcher Pass and visit the Independence Mine State Historical Park, which offers insight into Alaska’s gold mining history. Hike the park’s trails and learn about the mining operations and life in the mine community.
Take a guided tour or embark on your own adventure at the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier. Visitors can hike, ice climb, or simply admire the stunning ice formations.
Palmer’s history dates back to the early 20th century when it was a small agricultural community. The town gained prominence in 1935 when it was selected as the site for the Matanuska Colony, a New Deal program aimed at relocating struggling American families to Alaska.
The Matanuska Colony project brought over 200 families from the Midwest to Palmer, where they were provided with land, tools, and resources to establish farms. The town quickly grew as the settlers built homes, schools, and businesses.
Palmer’s agricultural heritage continues today, with many local farms still in operation. The town is known for its fertile soil and long summer days, which contribute to the growth of large vegetables and successful crops.
Today, Palmer is a vibrant community with a population of around 7,000. The town retains its historic charm while offering modern amenities and attractions for residents and visitors alike.
Famous People from Palmer
One notable individual from Palmer is Jay S. Hammond, the fourth Governor of Alaska from 1974 to 1982. Hammond was born in Troy, New York, but moved to Palmer in the 1940s, where he worked as a bush pilot and later became involved in politics.
RV and Camping Information
There are several options for RV and tent camping in and around Palmer:
– **Pioneer Motel & RV Park**: Located in downtown Palmer, Pioneer Motel & RV Park offers full hook-up RV sites, restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. The park is within walking distance to local shops and restaurants.
– **Matanuska River Park**: Situated along the Matanuska River, this park features RV and tent camping sites, picnic areas, restrooms, and river access for fishing and boating.
Annual Festivals and Events
Palmer hosts several annual events that celebrate its unique history, culture, and agricultural heritage:
Alaska State Fair
As mentioned earlier, the Alaska State Fair is a popular annual event that draws large crowds to Palmer. The fair showcases Alaska’s agricultural bounty, local talent, and provides fun for the whole family.
Held in June, Colony Days is a weekend-long event that celebrates Palmer’s history and the Matanuska Colony. The event features a parade, live music, local vendors, and various family-friendly activities.
Palmer Friday Flings
During the summer months, Palmer hosts Friday Flings, a weekly outdoor market featuring local arts and crafts, fresh produce, food vendors, and live entertainment. The event takes place in downtown Palmer and offers a lively atmosphere for visitors and residents alike.
Visitors to Palmer, Alaska can immerse themselves in the town’s rich history, explore its picturesque surroundings, and enjoy its welcoming community spirit. With its unique attractions, annual events, and agricultural roots, Palmer offers a memorable experience for travelers in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
As you continue to explore Palmer, Alaska, consider these additional activities and attractions for a more comprehensive experience of this unique region:
Musk Ox Farm
Visit the Musk Ox Farm, a non-profit organization dedicated to the domestication of the musk ox and the promotion of qiviut, the soft and warm underwool of the animal. Learn about these fascinating Arctic ungulates through guided tours and get up close with the animals.
For another unique animal encounter, visit the Williams Reindeer Farm, a family-owned farm where you can feed and pet reindeer, as well as learn about their biology and the role they play in Alaska’s ecosystem. The farm also has a small petting zoo with other animals, such as bison and elk.
Take a hike up Bodenburg Butte, a popular local hiking spot that provides panoramic views of the Matanuska Valley, Knik Glacier, and the Chugach and Talkeetna mountain ranges. The trail is moderately challenging and takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
Mat-Su Visitor Center
Stop by the Mat-Su Visitor Center in downtown Palmer to gather information on local attractions, activities, and events. The center also features interpretive displays on the region’s history, wildlife, and geology.
Lazy Mountain and Matanuska Peak
For more adventurous hikers, tackle the trails leading up Lazy Mountain and Matanuska Peak. These challenging hikes offer stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, as well as opportunities to spot local wildlife.
Wine Tasting and Local Breweries
Enjoy a taste of Alaska’s burgeoning wine and craft beer scene by visiting local establishments, such as the Matanuska Brewing Company and the Alaska Meadery. Sample a variety of locally produced beverages while learning about the brewing and winemaking processes.
Palmer, Alaska, offers a diverse range of attractions, activities, and events that cater to various interests and age groups. From its rich agricultural history to its picturesque natural surroundings, there’s no shortage of experiences to be had in this charming town nestled in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or planning an extended stay, Palmer provides a captivating and immersive experience for travelers seeking a taste of the Alaskan way of life.