Valdez, Alaska’s ‘Little Switzerland’, is surrounded by the 5,000-foot-high (1,525-metre-high) Chugach Mountains and numerous glaciers. This scenic port community is situated on the shore of Prince William Sound, less than 25 miles (40 kilometres) east of the Columbia Glacier. It is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. View more
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Explore the scenic wonders of the Chugach Mountains during this picturesque journey through the Thompson Pass, with a visit to the Worthington Glacier.
Keystone Canyon and Thompson Pass
Depart the pier for the approximately 45-minute drive through Keystone Canyon. This narrow break in the Chugach Mountains is home to spectacular waterfalls, exceptional geology and fascinating history. From here, proceed up Thompson Pass, Alaska's snowiest locale. En route, your guide points out the site where the famous Trans-Alaska pipeline is buried. The summit offers spectacular views of this alpine setting.
Just across Thompson Pass, the Worthington Glacier comes into view. Located in the Chugach Mountains, this glacier is one of the most accessible of its kind in Alaska, and passes within a few feet of the parking lot and interpretative viewing-shelter. High alpine tundra, glacial landscape and spectacular views of the grand valley combine to create an especially picturesque backdrop. During your visit, you can take panoramic photos of your surroundings and learn about the glacier at the interpretative viewing shelter.
Bridal Veil and Horsetail Waterfalls
Leaving the glacier area, a 30-minute drive takes you to the site of these stunning Bridal Veil and Horsetail waterfalls. The falls cascade down from high above the canyon walls, and offer splendid vistas and photo opportunities. Your return drive passes by the site of Valdez's Old Town, which was completely destroyed in the Earthquake of 1964. Upon arrival back in town, you may opt to return directly to the pier, or leave the coach near the Visitor's Centre for independent exploration and return to the ship via shuttle bus.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of driving along winding mountain roads, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach. The walk to the viewing area at the Worthington Glacier is uphill, and on uneven terrain. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair; forty-eight-hour notice is required to request a wheelchair lift-equipped coach. Warm, layered clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes and sun protection are recommended. Hiking on the glacier is not included on this tour.
Experience the pristine natural beauty of the Alaskan coast from a unique perspective during this half-day sea-kayaking excursion to Duck Flats.
Depart the pier for the brief transfer to the kayak launching area. Upon arrival, receive your safety briefing and kayaking gear and instructions, then embark your two- or three-person sea kayak and begin your 1.5-2-hour kayaking tour. Paddle towards the calm waters of Duck Flats. Along the way, your route follows a chain of small islands noted for their nesting birds and sunbathing seals.
While paddling around Duck Flats, a visit is made to the nesting sites of Bald Eagles. During the trip back to the kayak launching area, explore the Valdez Small Boat Harbour and take in a water-level view of the local fishing boats and fish processing plants. Upon arrival back at the kayak launching area, disembark your kayak and transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of activity, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach, and embark/disembark the sea-kayak. It is recommended for guests in good physical condition only. This tour is not suitable for guests with back and/or neck problems, limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. The maximum weight to participate on this tour is 250 pounds (113 kilograms/18 stone). The maximum height to participate on this tour is 6'6" (198 cm). Warm, layered clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes, sun protection and binoculars are recommended. Helmets, gloves, raingear and dry bags are provided. This tour operates in all weather conditions unless safety is an issue. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. Although commonly observed on these types of outings, wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The many natural wonders of Valdez are yours to discover during this picturesque sightseeing drive past waterfalls and valleys, and a memorable hike at Worthington Glacier State Park.
Valdez Sightseeing Drive
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately-hour drive to the Worthington Glacier. En route, take in spectacular panoramic vistas as you proceed past the Keystone Canyon Waterfalls, cross Thompson Pass and stop for photos at Bridal Veil Falls.
Nature Hike and Glacier Walk
Upon arrival at Worthington Glacier State Park, a brief comfort stop is made before taking a short walk to the foot of the glacier. Here, strap-on your shoe crampons and receive your hiking gear and safety instructions prior to stepping out on the ice. Your 1.5-2-hour journey begins on a moderate slope, and explores the glacier's blue walls and crevasses. Keep your eyes peeled for the bald eagles that may be seen soaring overhead. After a refreshment stop, proceed to the exit-point at the foot of the glacier. A brief comfort stop is made before re-boarding your mini-van for the approximately 45-minute drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of hiking over bumpy, uneven and slippery surfaces for approximately 1.5-2 hours, with a few steps required to get on/off the coach. Guests are advised to dress warmly in layers with light-medium-weight hiking boots or outdoor sneakers, and bring an extra layer of warm clothing, gloves, a hat, and raingear from the ship. Strap-on crampons (pointed metal attachments for shoes to prevent slipping on the ice) are provided, and can be used with any type of outdoor shoe. Medium-weight, non-cotton socks are best. This tour operates in all weather conditions unless safety is an issue. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. Although commonly observed on these types of outings, wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Discover the wonders and the history of Port Valdez on this half-day cruise around Valdez Bay.
Depart the pier via coach for the one-mile (1.4 kilometre) transfer to where you will board the catamaran. Sit back and relax as you travel along the coast line of Valdez Bay and learn about the history of the area. Travel west past the Old Cliff Gold Mine and listen to stories about the construction, operations and hopeful re-opening of the mine.
Next visit Shoup Bay State Marine Park and see Shoup Glacier. Be on the look-out for sea otters and bald eagles. Sailing back to Valdez, cruise pas Anderson Watefall as it cascades down the mountain side from Anderson Glacier. On the return learn about the incidents that have shaped the community of Valdez - the 1964 earthquake, the oil shipping industry and the operations at the Trans Alaska Pipeline Terminal.
Back in Valdez, re-board the shuttle bus for the short drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour requires minimum activity.