This is a beautiful town on a sunny day when the surrounding snow-topped
mountains are reflected in the deep blue water of Port Valdez. We
enjoyed more sun on this visit to Valdez than when we were here three years ago.
Here's the Valdez-area map again so you can see some of the locations
I'll talk about in this entry:
After we got settled in at the campground on Wednesday
afternoon (left arrow on map above) we drove into town to remind ourselves what is
where. It's easy for us to get Valdez and Seward mixed up re: their
waterfronts, RV parks, museums, restaurants, etc.
OK . . . now we remember what's here!
During our five-day stay at Valdez Glacier Campground we both enjoyed
riding into town several times on our bikes or in the truck.
It's about three miles on Airport Road, then another three miles along
the Richardson Highway, which has great views of the marsh (i.e., Duck
Flats, shown in the next two photos), bay, and peninsula with Dock
A bike path runs for several miles along this busy road, making walking
or cycling into town safer.
Fortunately, there are enough interesting things to see to minimize
the din and movement of traffic a few feet away:
As noted in the previous entry, Valdez is in the beginning of a noisy,
dusty four-year harbor expansion project. In addition to all the normal
traffic in and out of town, now there is also a continual stream of
large trucks hauling rocks and fill dirt along a four-mile stretch of
the Richardson Hwy.
When it's not raining water trucks frequently wet down the dust on
the road, creating MUD. Not sure which is worse.
Don't avoid a trip to Valdez because of all this. Just be aware of it
before you go.
PORT VALDEZ: SMALL BOAT HARBOR & FERRY
While in town I especially enjoy viewing the harbor from the boardwalk downtown
and from the road across the water. It's fun to watch people, boats, sea
birds, harbor seals, and the clouds moving in and out over the surrounding mountain
There are lots of colorful sea kayaks at the far end of the small
I took the next three pictures when the tide was lower. A bunch of kayaks were
being loaded onto three boats to take passengers out into Prince William
Sound to paddle around some of the best scenery in the world:
There are also lots of shops, restaurants, and tour companies for folks
who are interested in those.
One day I rode my bike our South Harbor Dr. to watch the new harbor project
and to see the current small boat harbor from the other side:
Another large project is at the end of that street, where numerous
truckloads of fill dirt and rock have been laid to extend that peninsula
of land, too.
I was interested in the large Peter Pan Seafood Co. complex on South Harbor Dr. --
processing plant, dormitory, mess hall, sales, offices, etc.
I went into the sales area and found fresh king (chinook/red) salmon for
$12/lb., which sounded reasonable to me. It came from nearby Prince William
Sound. We went back later to get two+ pounds of the salmon after checking
first at Safeway.
Three years ago we found fresh salmon on sale at Safeway in Valdez or
Seward for only $7.99/lb., half the price of the local seafood company.
Apparently it wasn't this store (I told you we frequently get the two towns mixed
up!). The seafood guy at Safeway told me they rarely carry fresh salmon
because of the very high price. They can't compete with Peter Pan's
lower prices. He said $12/lb. was a bargain price for king salmon and we
should get some at Peter Pan.
We also got some smoked salmon at Peter Pan. Both the fresh and smoked
salmon were delicious.
Someone's fishing boat in the small boat harbor
I was the only customer for a few minutes so I talked with the saleswoman at Peter Pan.
She and her husband live in Seattle during the
winter. This is about the twentieth time that they've come to Valdez in
the summer. Peter Pan flies them up here and back, and provides lodging
(not sure about meals). Her husband is a machinist for the company. They
plan to retire after this summer.
often ask locals in Alaska if they live here all year. Many don't,
particularly ones who own or work at seasonal businesses like RV parks.
I also rode down to the ferry terminal on several of
my bike rides:
During our stay we didn't see any ferries or large cruise ships in the
port, which is ice-free during the winter.
Another day we observed a dredger in the water to the west of the port:
There is so much silt coming down the mountains in the Lowe River,
Valdez Glacier Creek, Mineral Creek, and other streams that I imagine
dredging is often required.
This is my second-favorite museum in Alaska (the huge Anchorage
Museum tops my list). There is no admission fee but donations are
welcome to view these items collected by Maxine and Jesse Whitney.
The handsome museum showcases an extensive collection of Alaskan
memorabilia including a wide variety of animal mounts, tools,
prehistoric artifacts, furnishings, carvings, clothing, dolls, and more,
all beautifully displayed.
I just had to go back to see all of it again. Here are some different
views than I showed back in June, 2012:
L-R: mountain goat, polar
bear, trumpeter swan, musk ox
The museum is located on the grounds of the Prince William Sound
SOLOMON GULCH FISH HATCHERY
Dayville Road, which you can see on the map at the beginning of this
entry, is located about nine miles north of Valdez.
Bridge over the Lowe River
Heading south on Dayville Rd.
This paved road has wide shoulders (good for cycling) and runs about
five miles along the eastern side of Port Valdez, with scenic views from
the base of the Chugach Mountains across the water to town. You can
camp, picnic, fish, watch for seals, sea lions, birds, salmon, and bears
when the salmon are running.
A good place to see critters is the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery,
which is about four miles back Dayville Road:
We've been to the hatchery at various tide levels. It's easier to
see the seals and sea lions when the water is higher.
We saw some salmon fry (babies) in the outdoor tanks and watched two
adorable harbor seals in the bay water:
Jim heard on the radio that bears might be frequenting this area as
mature salmon come back to spawn upstream but we didn't see any salmon
or bears while we were here. I think we were too early.
There are lots of interpretive panels along the walk to the viewing
Across the road is the Copper Valley hydroelectric plant.
There is a dam high above it that we couldn't see, at the Solomon Lake
outlet, and two large tubes where the water comes down and flows into
the bay where we saw the seals:
There is also a nearby natural waterfall that flows through Solomon
Gulch, which is a steep, narrow crevice:
You can reach at least one trailhead up into the mountains a little
past the fish hatchery. I'll talk about a hike we took to Solomon Lake
in another entry. That hike took us to the dam above the electrical plant.
The Alyeska Pipeline Terminal complex is located at the end of
Dayville Road. Unfortunately, there is no public access to (or tours of)
the terminal. I think that would be interesting if they ever allow it.
Next entry: photos from scenic hikes and bike rides
in the area
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil