One of the coolest (pun intended!) things we have ever done is hiking on a glacier in Alaska. Several years ago, BK (before kids), my husband and I went with my mother on an Alaskan cruise. On one of our excursions, we flew in a helicopter and landed on a glacier. There was nothing like being on a glacier and seeing that amazing blue color up close. I really wanted my kids to experience that, but a helicopter ride for five people was more than our budget would allow.
I read about Matanuska Glacier, which could be easily accessed from the road and knew that we had to fit that into our trip. For a very reasonable price we could have access to the glacier, rent equipment, and have an experienced guide take us out on the glacier for a hike.
When we arrived at Matanuska Glacier in our RV (the RV was an ideal way to see Alaska, but that will have to be another whole post), we were greeted by a friendly husky. We found out he belonged to one of the guides and loved to go out on the glacier, so we requested that the dog’s owner be our guide.
Our tour included equipment rental and we wanted to be safe, so we took advantage of everything–a helmet, ski pole, and mini-crampons that fit over our shoes. The crampons really worked well and provided great traction on the ice so that we could walk up and down hills easily without slipping.
Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and told us all kind of interesting facts on our way out to the glacier. My kids were very enthusiastic explorers and kept trying to get ahead of our guide. I had to remind them that he was our guide, not vice versa!
There were streams of water that we had to cross several times. The guides regularly have to move around these metal planks.
He showed us different parts of the glacier, how stones tunnel down into the ice, and a beautiful lake in the glacier. Words just can’t describe it, so the pictures are going to have to show it.
Another activity they teach on the glacier is ice climbing. Only one of my children was old enough for this activity, so we opted not to do it. Also, they do allow experienced glacier hikers access to the glacier without a guide, but you really need to know what you are doing because parts of the glacier are dangerous.
One of the things I really appreciated about this vendor is that advance reservations were not necessary. It’s not exactly close to other attractions and it would have been difficult to schedule our arrival at a particular time. I really like that they were set up to accommodate visitors whenever they arrived.
I hope I’ve convinced you that any trip to Alaska ought to include a glacier hike. Just in case, I’ll throw in a few more pictures. I just can’t get enough of that beautiful blue ice!