|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|Southcentral Mountains & Prince William Sound|
Location/Climate: North shore of Port Valdez in Prince William Sound, 120 air miles and 305 road miles from Anchorage. 60"/yr. precip., 300"/yr. snowfall, 18°F63°F.
Population: 4,469 (5.9 percent native).
Travel Attractions: Crooked Creek salmon run.
Getting There: Vehicle access via Richardson Highway (AK 4) from Glenallen, Anchorage, Fairbanks; scheduled ferry service from Whittier, Cordova, Seward; scheduled air service from Anchorage, Fairbanks.
Information: Visitor Information Center, P.O. Box 1603, 200 Chenega Street, Valdez, (800) 770-5954 or 835-4636, www.valdezalaska.org.
The town of Valdez was established in the winter of 189798 as the beginning point of the All American Route to the Interior gold fields. It continues to be important as the northernmost ice-free port on the continent. Once situated on the geologically unstable flats at the head of Port Valdez, the town was virtually destroyed in the 1964 earthquake, then reestablished on safe ground 4 miles to the west.
Valdez is the terminus for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. A "tank farm" and tanker port are located on the south side of Port Valdezthe very port from which the towns namesake tanker, the Exxon Valdez, departed the night it ran aground in Prince William Sound. Valdez became the center for the clean-up effort, though the oil slicks never reached the towns shores. Today many residents work in pipeline- and oil shippingrelated jobs.
Though Valdez doesnt have the charm or easy pace of Cordova, its setting is among the most spectacular of any town in the state. The shops and restaurants on Harbor Plaza beside the small boat harbor make for pleasant browsing with a working, marine ambiance. Though the Alyeska pipeline, tank farm, and tanker terminal may not be attractive to some, they offer a vivid contrast to the mountains and sea.
Valdez is an excellent base for several types of adventures. With kayak segments of less than 10 miles each, Valdez can be connected with Shoup Bay State Marine Park, Sawmill Bay State Marine Park, Jack Bay State Marine Park, and a Chugach National Forest cabin at the head of Jack Bay. Outfitters offer rafting trips through Keystone Canyon east of town. Wilderness access to the high country and glaciers of non-designated state and BLM lands is possible from the Richardson Highway. Flightseeing over the ice and peaks of the Chugach is offered from the Valdez airport. Tour companies provide fishing and Columbia Glacier excursions, while charter boats can drop you and your kayak or backpack just about anywhere you want (see the appendix for listings).
Things to See and Do in Valdez
Alyeska Marine TerminalThis facility receives up to 75,000 barrels of oil per hour through the pipeline. It stores the oil in huge tanks, then loads it onto the 70 tankers that use the port each month. Call 835-2686 for information about the $15 tour.
Crooked Creek Salmon ViewpointAbout a mile east of town on the Richardson Highway, the mouth of Crooked Creek meets Duck Flats and Port Valdez. A parking area, information site, and viewing platform have been set up to facilitate viewing of spawning salmon as they crowd the creek mouth. A bike path also reaches the site from the top of Meals Avenue.
Valdez Museum and Historic ArchiveLocated 3 blocks from the boat harbor and ferry dock where Tatilek Avenue meets Egan Drive, the museum has Valdez-area heritage exhibits. Highlights include a restored steam fire engine, as well as a log cabin, lighthouse, photographs, and audio-visual programs. P.O. Box 397, 217 Egan, Valdez, 835-2764, www.alaska.net/~vldzmuse.
Where to Stay in Valdez
Keystone Hotel, 401 Egan Drive, (888) 835-0665 or 835-3851, www.alaskan.com/keystonehotel. $85$115. Open MaySeptember. Nicely remodeled, full amenities, near ferry and town.
Totem Inn, 100 Egan Drive, 835-4443. $104 and up, 30 percent less in winter. High-grade motel, good family-style Totem Inn Restaurant.
Harbor Reservations, 201 N. Harbor Drive, (800) 830-4302, 835-3155, www.valdezalaska.com, is a good one-stop source for information and reservations for about 20 Valdez-area bed-and-breakfasts. Using a reservation service is a real time saver if you’re arriving on short notice.
Tsaina Lodge, Mile 35 Richardson Highway, 835-3500, www.valdezheliskiguides.com/lodge.html. Nice accommodations, fantastic Tsaina Lodge Restaurant, and glacier views. The Tsaina is the home of the World Extreme Skiing Championships. $95 and up in summer, $160 and up in winter. RH
Valdez Bear Paw Camper Park, North Harbor Drive at Meals Avenue, Seward, 835-2530. Tentsites $15$17, hook-ups $20$22. Right at small boat harbor in town, good place to stay if you need to make an early-morning ferry.
Where to Eat in Valdez
Chinook Books & Coffee, 126 Pioneer Drive, 835-4222. A bookstore and gift shop adjoins this relaxing breakfast/lunch spot.
Fu Kung, 207 Kobuk Street, 835-5255. Big Chinese menu. Tasty and pricey.
Mikes Palace, 201 North Harbor Drive, 835-2365. Open 11 a.m. 11 p.m. Try their famous lasagna and halibut.