View Map

Overview

Terminus of the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the little town of Valdez (pronounced val-DEEZ) is surrounded by jagged mountains befitting its "Little Switzerland" moniker. The town is famous for snowy winters. Some 300 inches of snow fall in a typical year, and it isn't uncommon to see massive drifts reaching to the eaves. Even more snow falls on Thompson Pass, 25 miles north of town along the Richardson Highway; in 1952-53 the area received 974 inches of snow — more than 81 feet in a single season! The pass gets international attention as a heli-skiing destination (often appearing in Warren Miller films) for Valdez-based helicopter ...

Terminus of the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the little town of Valdez (pronounced val-DEEZ) is surrounded by jagged mountains befitting its "Little Switzerland" moniker. The town is famous for snowy winters. Some 300 inches of snow fall in a typical year, and it isn't uncommon to see massive drifts reaching to the eaves. Even more snow falls on Thompson Pass, 25 miles north of town along the Richardson Highway; in 1952-53 the area received 974 inches of snow — more than 81 feet in a single season! The pass gets international attention as a heli-skiing destination (often appearing in Warren Miller films) for Valdez-based helicopter operations. Snowmobiling and snowboarding are also popular, and the Valdez Nordic Ski Club maintains groomed cross-country ski trails. Ice climbing enthusiasts head to Keystone Canyon, where summertime waterfalls are transformed into towering ice falls. Despite the snow, temperatures in Valdez are surprisingly mild, typically in the 20s much of the winter. The town also features a good mix of lodging and restaurants, along with a fine museum. State ferries serve Whittier and Cordova, and the Richardson Highway connects the town with the rest of Alaska.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

view full overview

Don Pitcher for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Deepest snows and best sunlight are in February and March.