Glacier Hiking - Where To Go?!

We often get asked by guests of ours traveling in Alaska or staying with us at Colony Suites in Downtown Palmer: 'Where can I find a tour in Alaska where you can travel to a glacier and hike on it?' Well we decided to get something put together for those looking for this same experience but in different parts of Alaska as well!

Matanuska Glacier, AK

There are several tour companies in Alaska that offer glacier hiking and ice climbing tours. Many of these tours involve driving to a location near a glacier, and then hiking or taking a helicopter or other mode of transportation to the glacier itself. Some popular options for glacier hiking and ice climbing tours in Alaska include:

    • Alaska Mountain Guides: Based out of Haines, Alaska, this company offers a variety of guided glacier hiking and ice climbing tours in Gustavus, Haines, and Skagway.  Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. is based in Haines, Alaska, a small town located near the top of the Inside Passage. Haines borders Glacier Bay National Park.  This company offers a variety of guided glacier hiking, climbing, and skiing tours in Gustavus, Haines, Skagway, and even in different areas of Canada!  If you're looking for unparalleled adventure that can accommodate a very high level of expertise, these guys have what you want!

    • Nova Alaska: Offering very accessible tours on the Matanuska Glacier, Nova Alaska has day trips of various types and can accommodate almost anyone on their excursion.  Due to the very accessible nature of the Matanuska Glacier, Nova operates these tours roughly a 1 hour drive north of Palmer, Alaska, or 2 hours north of Anchorage, Alaska.

Matanuska Glacier Hike 01
    • Kenai Backcountry Adventures: Based out of Seward Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula, you can certainly hike on Exit Glacier along with tours such as packrafting among the icebergs or exploring ice caves after flying out toward Lake Clark National Park.

    • St. Elias Alpine Guides: This company offers guided glacier hiking and ice climbing tours in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in McCarthy-Kennecott, Alaska.  Offering both full and half-day glacier hiking experiences along with ice climbing and ice cave exploration, if you find yourself in McCarthy, you will want to contact them!

Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (12)
  • Alaska Guide Co: Trek along the Worthington glacier near Valdez along with summertime ice climbing, and kayaking among the icebergs and through ice tunnels.
Jamie on the Root Glacier It's worth noting that many of these tours are quite physically demanding and may require a good level of fitness. It's also important to be prepared for the potentially cold and wet conditions that can be encountered on a glacier. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring all necessary gear, including warm clothing, sturdy shoes, and rain gear.

When preparing for a glacier hiking tour, it's important to bring the right gear to ensure that you are properly equipped for the potentially cold and wet conditions you may encounter on the glacier. Here are some items that you should consider bringing with you:

  1. Warm clothing: Pack layers of clothing that can be added or removed as needed to help regulate your body temperature. This should include a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer, as well as a hat, gloves, and warm socks.

  2. Sturdy shoes: Wear shoes that provide good traction and support, such as hiking boots or trail running shoes. Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops, as they will not provide sufficient protection or support.

  3. Rain gear: Bring a waterproof jacket and pants to help keep you dry in case of rain or melting snow.

  4. Sun protection: If you are hiking in sunny conditions, be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin and eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays.

  5. Snacks and water: Pack some snacks and a water bottle to keep you hydrated and energized during the hike.

  6. First aid kit: It's a good idea to bring a small first aid kit in case of any minor injuries or emergencies.

  7. Camera: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture memories of your hike and the stunning scenery.

It's also a good idea to check with the tour company or guide for any specific gear requirements or recommendations before your tour. They may provide some or all of the necessary gear, or may have additional recommendations based on the specific conditions and terrain of the tour.

It is possible to see some wildlife while on a glacier hike, but it is generally not as common as seeing wildlife in other parts of Alaska. This is because glaciers are typically inhospitable environments for most forms of life, due to their extreme cold and lack of vegetation.


However, you may see some birds, such as ptarmigans or gulls, that are adapted to living in cold environments and may be found near or on the glacier. You may also see animals that are attracted to the water that flows from melting glaciers, such as bears, moose, and beavers.

It's important to keep in mind that while encountering wildlife can be an exciting and rewarding part of a glacier hike, it is important to respect the animals and give them plenty of space. Do not approach or try to feed them, and follow any guidelines or instructions provided by your guide or the tour company.

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