Great Land of Alaska

Southcentral Alaskan Glaciers

Glaciers are one of the many awe-inspiring natural features found in Alaska. Few things are more impressive than a giant river of ice clinging to the side of a steep mountain or filling a wide valley floor. Glaciers are formed in areas where circumstances prevent all the winters' snowfall from melting during the summer. This could either be cool summer temperatures or great quantities of snowfall.

Glaciers are essentially rivers of ice, slowly flowing downhill just like a regular river. Some of the more rapid glaciers may flow as fast as several feet per day, whereas most of them slowly creep along at a few inches per day.

The eroding effects are easily visible in areas where glaciers have retreated. New valleys may be created or existing valleys widened by the constant flow of glacial ice.

Burns Glacier

Glacier beyond lake

Burns Glacier (on the left side of the valley) is easily visible from the highway and is a popular tourist destination. It's located a short drive away from Anchorage at the eastern end of Portage Valley. Portage Glacier is barely visible in this picture in the bottom center.

Bryn Mawn Glacier

Bryn Mawr Glacier Bryn Mawr waterfall

Bryn Mawn Glacier is one of the many glaciers seen from the Phillip's 26-Glacier Cruise based in Whittier. This glacier has begun to receed, showing bare eroded rock at its base.

Byron Glacier

High alpine glacier

The small valleys and mountain sides of Portage Valley are abundant with glaciers. Byron Glacier is one of the many smaller glaciers between the mountains in this valley.

Deadman Glacier

Glacier on mountainside

Deadman Glacier is a small Kenai Mountains glacier in the Placer River valley. The Kenai Mountains are not exceptionally high, but do have a large number of glaciers and ice fields due to the massive quantities of snow that fall on them during the winter.

Explorer Glacier

Mountain valley glacier

Explorer Glacier is another small Portage Valley glacier, clinging to the side of Explorer Mountain.

Harding Icefield

Harding Icefield

Harding Icefield is a large "lake" of ice high in the Kenai Mountains. Several small glaciers flow from this ice field, and it is one of the many sources of the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers.

Havard Glacier

Harvard Glacier Harvard Glacier close-up Calving ice

Harvard Glacier is the climax to the Phillip's 26-Glacier cruise. Located at the end of College Fjord, it is a large wide tidewater glacier. Passengers on the cruise are often treated to the impressive sight of a large piece of ice calving from the glacier and falling into the water.

Learnard Glacier

Rock-covered glacier

With all of the rock and gravel covering Learnard Glacier's terminal, it's hard to tell that this is a glacier.

Matanuska Glacier

Matanuska Glacier Glacier with mountain background Jagged ice Glacier and mountains Small ice canyon

Matanuska Glacier is a large glacier that's about a 2-hour drive east of Anchorage. It isn't as popular as Portage Glacier due to its distance, but it is a very impressive glacier. It is visible from many areas of the Glenn Highway and a small road leads to it, giving adventurers a chance to take a short walk on it.

Matanuska Glacier on cloudy day
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Matanuska Glacier on cloudy day
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Matanuska Glacier on cloudy day
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Matanuska Glacier on cloudy day
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Matanuska Glacier on cloudy day
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Tiny hikers on large glacier
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Matanuska Glacier is by no means amongst the largest glaciers of Alaska, but it's large enough, and being located right next to the Glenn Highway, it's a popular hiking destination for adventurers from both within and without Alaska. The last picture in this series shows that this somewhat average-sized glacer is still pretty large, as indicated by the comparitive size of the hikers circled in red.

Maynard Mountain Glacier (Unnamed)

High mountain glacier

Another small Portage Valley glacier, this one clinging to the side of Maynard Mountain. There are so many small glaciers in this area that many are either unnamed or else have obscure hard-to-find names.

Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier Portage Glacier Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier, perhaps one of Southcentral Alaska's most visited glaciers. This glacier has retreated quite a bit over the past several decades--it used to be easily visible from the highway but now only the very tip of its terminal is visible. A large lake, Portage Lake, has formed at this glacier's terminal. Daily cruises on this lake give visitors a chance to see the glacier up close.

Portage Valley Glaciers

Valley glacier

A few more Portage Valley glaciers, possibly unnamed.

Skilak Glacier

SkilakGlacier Skilak Glacier Skilak Glacier

Skilak Glacier is one of the many glaciers flowing from the Kenai Mountain's Harding Icefield. The river flowing from the lake in the first picture is Skilak River, which empties into Skilak Lake.

Smith Glacier

Smith Glacier

Smith Glacier is yet another one of the many glaciers seen on the Phillip's 26-Glacier cruise in College Fjord.

Spencer Glacier

Wide valley glacier Rafters and glacier Large icebergs Wide valley glacier

Spencer Glacier is an impressive Kenai Mountains glacier. It is not reachable by highway, visitors must either take the train or hike to it. A tour company offers float trips through the lake at the glacer's terminal and down the small river flowing from the lake.

Surprise Glacier

Surprise Glacier Surprise Glacier close-up

Surprise Glacier is a tidewater glacier in the Kenai Peninsula's Harriman Fjord. It is another stop on the Phillip's 26-Glacier cruise.

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier from a distance Worthington Glacier up close

High in the Chugach Mountains near Thompson Pass is Worthington Glacier, a large impressive alpine glacier easily seen from the Richardson Highway.

Unnamed glacier

Mountain valley glacier

A tiny, presumably unnamed glacier of the Kenai Mountains.


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