A visit to Prince William Sound
and Valdez, Alaska

Summary: This is the story of a holiday in Valdez, Alaska. The author goes on a sea kayaking and glacier / wildlife cruise in Prince William sound and wonders about Heli Skiing in the Chugach Mountains.

Chilling Out with an Alaskan Glacier Cruise in Prince William Sound

An Alaska adventure is not for those people who would rather laze around on a beach somewhere drinking Mai Tai’s. Plus, one patch of sand can look the same almost anywhere around the world right? If you are like me, you want a one of a kind vacation that you will remember for years to come.

Close your eyes and think about vacationing in Alaska. Do you picture cold winter weather, snow and icebergs? If so, you would be right. However, if that is all your mind conjures up, you would be missing out on potentially one of the greatest adventures you could ever have. I did a little research before my own journey to southcentral Alaska and what I read impressed me enough to book my travel plans. However, “going live” made all my research pale in comparison.

prince william sound overview
A Google Earth Slide showing the features of Prince William Sound

There are several ways to see Alaska and I tried several of them. First, I took several Alaskan glacier cruises in Prince William Sound. After the Exxon Valdez debacle in the 1980’s, I was not expecting much in terms of the scenery and wildlife. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

I was based in Valdez for part of my Alaska experience and stayed in a bed and breakfast. There were several hotels available but if you want the personal touch, a bed and breakfast is the way to go. My first cruise was actually one of several sightseeing tours that are offered in Valdez. Sailing on one of these smaller charters is the best way to see the coastline of Prince William Sound. You can witness first hand otters and seals frolicking in the waters, many times so close to the boat you can see their eyes. Noisy sea-lions can be seen dotting the coastline too. Watching for whales is another popular event on these cruises.

My second Alaskan glacier cruise was actually one of those eco-tours where you can kayak through Prince William Sound, and go camping for several days. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and if this sounds like you, then experiencing Alaska via this venue is an absolute must. You will go hiking and explore the forests. Fishing for salmon is an option too. You will likely see a variety of wildlife like moose and elk and eagles soaring overhead. The local ecology is something that you will learn a lot about on one of these outdoor sightseeing adventures.

BC Parliament Buildings

By sea kayak, glacier cruise, ferry ride, or fishing trip, Alaska's Prince William Sound is spectacular natural beauty. Photo: Flickr AlaskanDude


Be sure to take some time sightseeing in the various towns around Prince William Sound. You will find that the people are friendly, helpful and eager to share the history of the area. Indulge in some local cuisine like halibut and salmon.

snowboarder in Chugach Mountains
Valdez Heli Ski Information - All the companies on one page.

If you find that you need a major adrenaline rush, book a heli skiing trip to the Chugach Mountains. Or for something a little tamer, snowboard options are available too. I did not partake of these two particular activities (too chicken), but I saw the faces of some people who did. I am pretty sure that “Wow!” just doesn’t cut it in terms of describing these events. For those do-it-yourselfers, you can experience Alaska on your own terms by staying in camper parks or trying one of the boat rentals that dot along the coast.

Alaska Airlines is your best bet for air travel. I flew this airline into Anchorage then hopped a smaller flight into Valdez, the main base for my Alaskan adventure. There are a few things I would have changed in regards to my vacation. First, I would have at least attempted the heli skiing thing. Maybe I still would have chickened out, but I would have had a heck of a helicopter ride! And second, I would have added another week. Unfortunately, responsibilities of life beckoned and I had to end my Alaskan adventure.

For more information: Traveler's Guide to Valdez and Traveler's guide to Whittier and Traveler's Guide to Cordova


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