Valdez, Alaska Visitor Guide
Valdez is a picturesque port town located in the Prince William Sound region of Alaska. Known for its stunning natural beauty, abundant outdoor activities, and rich history, Valdez offers a wide range of attractions for visitors to enjoy. In this guide, you’ll find information on Valdez’s latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, history, famous people, RV and camping information, and annual festivals and events.
Latitude and Longitude: Valdez is located at approximately 61.1308° N latitude and 146.3483° W longitude.
Getting to Valdez from Anchorage
Valdez is approximately 305 miles southeast of Anchorage, and there are two primary ways to reach the town by car or by ferry.
To reach Valdez by car from Anchorage, head east on AK-1 E/Glenn Highway. Continue on AK-1 E for about 180 miles until you reach the junction with the Richardson Highway (AK-4 S). Turn left onto the Richardson Highway and drive for approximately 125 miles to reach Valdez. The drive typically takes around 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
The Alaska Marine Highway System offers ferry service from Whittier (approximately 60 miles southeast of Anchorage) to Valdez. The ferry trip takes about 6 hours and offers passengers stunning views of Prince William Sound’s glaciers, fjords, and wildlife.
Things to Do
Valdez offers a variety of attractions and activities, including outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and recreational opportunities.
Prince William Sound
Valdez serves as a gateway to the beautiful Prince William Sound, which offers abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, kayaking, and glacier tours. Many tour operators offer guided excursions to explore the sound’s stunning natural beauty.
One of the most popular attractions near Valdez is the massive Columbia Glacier, which can be accessed via boat tours or kayaking trips. Witness the incredible sight of ice calving from the glacier face into the sea, and keep an eye out for wildlife such as seals, sea otters, and seabirds.
Valdez Museum & Historical Archive
Learn about Valdez’s rich history, including its origins as a Gold Rush town, its role in the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and its recovery from the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, by visiting the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive.
Valdez was established in 1898 as a port for prospectors heading to the Klondike gold fields. The town’s strategic location at the head of a deep fjord made it an important transportation and supply hub during the early 20th century. In 1964, Valdez was severely damaged by the Great Alaska Earthquake, and the town was subsequently relocated to its current site.
Following the 1964 earthquake, Valdez played a critical role in the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which transports crude oil from the North Slope to the Valdez Marine Terminal. Today, the town remains an important center for the oil industry and serves as a popular tourist destination known for its exceptional recreational opportunities and natural beauty.
Famous People from Valdez
While there are no widely known celebrities from Valdez, the town’s history and rugged beauty have attracted many adventurers, artists, and outdoor enthusiasts over the years.
RV and Camping Information
There are several RV and camping options in and around Valdez:
– Bear Creek RV Park: This RV park, located near the entrance to Valdez, offers full hook-up sites, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi.
– Eagle’s Rest RV Park: Situated within walking distance of downtown Valdez, this RV park features full hook-up sites, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, and a shuttle service.
– Blueberry Lake State Recreation Site: Located about 24 miles north of Valdez along the Richardson Highway, this state recreation site offers rustic camping facilities, a picnic area, and access to Blueberry Lake.
Annual Festivals and Events
Valdez hosts several annual festivals and events that celebrate its history, culture, and natural resources:
– Gold Rush Days: Held in June, this event commemorates Valdez’s Gold Rush heritage with a variety of activities, including a parade, live music, games, and gold panning demonstrations.
– Valdez Fly-In & Air Show: This aviation-focused event, also held in June, features an air show, aircraft displays, and a short takeoff and landing (STOL) competition.
– Valdez Silver Salmon Derby: Taking place in August, the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is one of the oldest and most popular fishing derbies in Alaska, offering cash prizes for the largest silver salmon caught during the event.
– Richardson Highway Rendezvous: Held in September, this event celebrates the history and culture of the Richardson Highway with a variety of activities, including a car show, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and historical presentations.
– Valdez Ice Climbing Festival: Typically held in February, this event attracts ice climbers from around the world to participate in climbing clinics, competitions, and presentations. The festival also features gear demos, slideshows, and a film festival showcasing ice climbing adventures.
– Valdez Theatre Conference: An annual event usually held in June, the Valdez Theatre Conference brings together playwrights, actors, and theatre enthusiasts for a week of workshops, performances, and networking opportunities.
– Valdez Snowmachine Club Mountain Man Hill Climb: This snowmachine competition, held in March, challenges participants to race up a steep mountain course, testing their skills and endurance in a thrilling event for both racers and spectators.
In summary, Valdez, Alaska, offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From its breathtaking natural beauty and abundant outdoor adventures to its rich history and vibrant cultural events, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque port town. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking for a unique Alaskan experience, Valdez is a destination worth exploring.