Hatcher Pass is easily accessible destination since it is just a short drive from Anchorage and can still feel like you’re well within the heart of Alaska.
Hatcher Pass is a mountain pass through the Talkeetna Mountains. Named after a prospector, activities abound in this gorgeous setting. Like many other areas in Alaska, just getting to the Independence Mine State Historical Park is a treat in itself. Follow the curving Palmer Fishhook road up through the Little Susitna River canyon where you’ll gain elevation and actually drive your car to over 3,000 feet of elevation, which means your hiking adventures start in the alpine and you will encounter little to no bushwacking if you choose to venture off-trail!
Explore the Gold Cord Lake trail, Archangel Valley and Reed Lakes, along with a bit longer excursion to Snowbird Mine and Glacier, a 5 mile one way trip. You will be blown away by the waterfalls, gorgeous emerald water in the lakes, and you might even see (or hear) a few Hoary Marmots scrambling in the rocks.
A lesser known destination that is worth the effort is to explore what the locals call ‘Bomber Glacier’. Unofficially named after the TB-29 bomber that crashed and still is on the ice, the crash site is found beyond Upper Reed Lake where you have to climb up and over a steep and strenuous mountain pass to the left of Lynx Peak. Seeing the wreck in person is amazing and it is in such good condition for being there since 1957 and it feels like you just walked back in time.
DON’T WANT TO TRAVEL TOO FAR FROM THE CAR?
If you’ve timed it right, you can find blueberry picking just off the roads edge and if you’re lucky, you might be able to watch some paragliders soaring off of the mountainsides.
Definitely tour the Independence Mine and immerse yourself in the history of the area. Imagine the effort the miners went through to establish the infrastructure up there all in search of that precious gold.
Driving a rural highway or hike in a wide-open valley and you’ll get what we call the ‘Alaska Factor’, the feeling that Alaska seems to go on forever. After all, if you covered a million acres a day, you would still have to explore Alaska for more than a year to see it all! If you experience all of the amazing destinations on our list, you’ll definitely experience the Alaska Factor when you drive a highway for hours, then look at a map and see how little ground you’ve actually covered, or when you walk on the tundra heading toward Denali for hours and the mountain seems to remain the same size as it did miles back.
Our home is incredible and incredibly large. We hope you take the chance to explore our beautiful state and if you do, you’ll likely be back for a second helping…or like some, end up staying forever…ENJOY!