It may be Memorial Day Weekend, but that is not why we chose to go on the road this week. It was a combination of weather, and some long range planning that we put into play. OK, it was mostly about the weather. Sunshine and blue sky is always a powerful motivator in my book!
The temperature has finally gone up. I feel the effects of spring. The temperature is in the high 50’s. Now we are moving towards my comfort zone! The weather is finally warm enough to turn down the furnace, and no more “opportunities” to drive on the snow and ice. The leaves are green. The grass is shooting up. People are finally getting the lawn mowers out. The birds are singing, and the moose are giving birth. Now it is really spring!
We decided to drive down to Chitina for a few days. We left Anchorage around 2:00 pm in and were tucked into our camping spot near Glennallen by 7pm. I really enjoy stopping at Glennallen for fuel. We like the station with a gift store next to the Visitor’s Center. The visitor’s center is worth the stop for some great information about the area. They have topographical maps for hiking and tons of information for the region and the rest of the state. There is an RV campground at Glennallen for those that prefer to camp with electricity and full hook-ups. We prefer searching out our own spot along the way. There are also plenty scenic places to camp overnight for those like us who like the boondocking scene.
The Glenn Highway
If you really want to see some beautiful scenery, I suggest skipping the new Glenn Highway and take the turnoff to the Old Glenn Highway, especially on a clear day. The mountains are stunning. Slow down, take your time, and be sure the camera is charged up. The Old Glenn Highway to Palmer is not to missed! Here are some images and video from the dash. Overnighting on the Knik River is an option that we often take. It is a favorite place for ATV riding. The wind often kicks up and the blowing sand is a real turn-off for us. It was windy, and the sand was creating a hazy layer along the river, so we decided to skip this favorite spot.
Palmer to Sutton
From Palmer to Sutton, the scenary continues to blow me away. Palmer was established with the homesteading act during the 1930s. Farming was pushed. At one time there was a large dairy. Farming is still quite challenging with the climate and infrastructure. You can read about the some of the history surrounding the history of Palmer (ADD LINKS TO SLED) while you are in Alaska. SLED is an excellent resource that is funded and supported by the Alaska State Library Network for Alaskans. The resources are free while you are in Alaska.
Do you want to see an amazing glacier? Well, the Matanuska Glacier is viewable from the highway. There are plenty of tourist opportunities with ziplines, glacier tours and whatnot if you want to explore it more throughly. The tourist companies usually open up around the first week or so of June. The turnouts will whet the appetite for further exploration. Small RV parks are open seasonal as well. For explorers that want to get off the beaten path, there are some small, gravel roads with turnouts that serve cell towers and power lines. While the towers are off-limits, the pullouts and hiking trails are popular for off-road ues. We have not taken our rig down these roads yet because we often travel this highway off-season and have our sights on Chitina.
The off-highway roads are minimally maintained, and can be quite muddy and rutted. You are on your own if you do venture out this way. We usually travel this highway in the off-season, when these gravel roads are icy or very muddy. We have not experienced the commercial attractions along this route because they are usually closed when we drive through. That, and we are usually on a tight budget.
writes for Iris Blume Publishing. She is an Alaskan who has a love for traveling and writing. Join her as she rediscovers and shares her home state.
Where are we now?