The Land of Waterfalls – Valdez, Alaska
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Discovering the beautiful town of Valdez is like experiencing a dream come true. Located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound, Valdez is in the midst of the Chugach Mountains and picturesque coast. Roughly 4,000 lucky Alaska residents call this world-renowned adventure destination home. On top of that, this former Gold Rush town has rich history and cultural charm, along with an unlimited amount of recreational activities. One of Valdez’s greatest claims to fame is its close proximity to Thompson Pass, know as the “snowiest place in Alaska” due to its average of approximately 45 feet of snow a year.
Snowy winters in Valdez lead to lush spring and summer days, and the melting water from the heavy snowfall rushes down the area’s numerous rivers, streams, and waterfalls. One of the most spectacular natural attractions near Valdez is Keystone Canyon—a place with dramatic waterfalls, brilliant geology, and captivating history.
You’ll drive through Keystone Canyon when heading into Valdez on the Richardson Highway. It is located between miles 14 and 17.
The grand beauty of this 3-mile-long canyon is impossible to ignore.
When you observe Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls cascading over the towering walls of Keystone Canyon, you’ll quickly understand why Valdez is known as the “land of waterfalls.”
En route to Valdez, visitors can enjoy the almighty waterfalls via pull-outs available right off of the Richardson Highway inside of the canyon.
Tie up your hiking boots and embark on the 1.8-mile-long Keystone Canyon Pack Trail, which will lead you to a bird’s eye view overlooking Bridal Veil Falls and Keystone Canyon.
Located at mile 18.9 of the Richardson Highway is the Old Railroad Tunnel, which was hand cut and dates back to 1905. It is what remains of feuding railway companies that tried to connect Valdez with the copper mines at Kennecott.
If you’re a thrill seeker looking for a little something more, then try a kayak or raft trip on the Lowe River which runs through Keystone Canyon in the direction of Valdez.
Ice climbing frozen waterfalls in Keystone Canyon is a popular winter-time activity for those willing to bundle up for a little chilly outdoor Alaskan fun.
But wait—it doesn’t stop there! After you’ve passed through the glorious canyon and made your way into Valdez, the waterfall adventures continue. Lots of easily accessible trails are available right in town. Fishing is another very popular activity in Valdez, and is another great way to take in the scenery.
Visitors can also hop on a wildlife cruise to enjoy a leisurely day of exploring the majestic mountains, towering waterfalls, and glistening glaciers inside Prince William Sound.
Looking for more where that came from? To learn about another incredible small town check out Girdwood, Alaska – Named Among World’s Top 10 Greatest Mountain Towns. Also, Explore The Magnificent Scenery Inside Alaska’s First State Park – Kachemak Bay. This Alaska Road Trip Will Lead You Through The Most Treasured Tiny Towns.