Since living in Anchorage we have been excited to explore a bit more of the area surrounding us- and we are trying to really take advantage of the beautiful weather and the long days here.
Adam had a change in his schedule which allowed him to have a few extra days off before and after a work trip so we decided to head to Valdez to explore for a few days.
We loaded up our X-terra and with a road map, camping gear, and plenty of snacks, we headed out!
Most of the landscape on our drive was pretty uninhabited, which made for beautiful scenic roads. We were taking a route that should have taken around 6 hours and we made pretty good time in 9 hours! We made SO many stops just to take photos, to stretch our legs, to picnic, or to just enjoy a pretty lookout. It was really fun and spontaneous, and that was the vibe that the entire trip had, which is a little bit unique because that’s not totally Adam or I’s personality.
We didn’t make a whole lot of plans before leaving- but it turned out really great!
We camped the first night at Blueberry Lake State Recreation Site, and it was SO beautiful! It was a really well maintained campground with only maybe 10 sites for tents. We rolled into the campground around 9:30 or 10, and found a really epic site that was very private and didn’t feel like a campground at all! It was sprinkling rain and very foggy- so we set up our tent and snuggled in for the night as the rain began to really pour.
I love sleeping in a tent with rain pattering down…except waking up in the morning it feels a little bit like a greenhouse!
This was the view when we woke up in the morning just peeking out from the tent! Golly, I could wake up like that every morning! So beautiful!
We made breakfast and tore down camp before heading into Valdez for the morning. The rest of the drive was amazing, as we passed through the Keystone Canyon. It was very scenic with a river running parallel to the road for several miles and a few beautiful waterfalls to stop at along the way.
I am not the best at scenic photography, but I think in general it’s pretty hard to capture the overwhelming beauty of what it’s like being there in person. There were a few places that were gorgeous, but I didn’t even try to photograph it, because I knew it wouldn’t do it justice and I just wanted to enjoy it in the moment.
In Valdez, there wasn’t a ton to do when you’re tourist-ing on a budget. We drove around, stopped at a gift shop, and then walked around at the small boat harbor. I actually loved doing that, because the whole scene of Valdez as sort of a mountain/fishing community was just really picturesque and felt like something from a movie. Valdez is actually nicknamed “Little Switzerland” which I thought was really cool- and it definitely feels like it too!
Being originally from Nebraska- I don’t think I have ever seen a harbor like this one necessarily and it definitely had a real charm to it.
After spending a bit of time in Valdez– we started the drive back- and camped at Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site which wasn’t quite as scenic, but it made for a cozy spot to camp!
It was a bit less rainy that night so we were able to spend time around the fire roasting hot dogs and snacking- until the bugs were so bad that we had to get into our tent and spend some time playing Blokus till the bugs decided to go to sleep. Then we spent more time by the fire roasting marshmallows and talking before it started pouring again!
We slept really well and then again took our time driving the rest of the way back to our house the next day. After two nights of camping and almost 3 full days in the car- we needed showers like nobodies business, so getting home and cleaning up, eating a hot meal, and settling in for a couple days of rest was just perfect.
I am so thankful that we’ve had the chance to get out and see a bit more of Alaska this summer! These are really special memories to us, and I know we’ll treasure them for years to come. We have a ton to be thankful for on these trips with a car that’s been running well, money for gas, plenty of food, and great company.
I am sure this adventure will rank among one of our favorites for this summer!