Glaciers are impressive natural phenomena.  The huge chunks of ice are responsible for shaping a large part of the United States topography.  Alaska has several glaciers that you can access by foot, boat, train, or car.  

1. Portage Glacier - also Byron and Explorer GlaciersPortage Glacier AlaskaCredit: Zdenek Svoboda

Right outside of Anchorage, on the Turnagain arm is the Portage Glacier visitor center.  Portage used to be viewable from the visitor center, but it has since retreated.  Cruise boats will take you out there, and you can see ice chunks floating in the sea.  Two other glaciers are viewable once you are on the boat.  Byron and Explorer are Portage's neighbors.

2. Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier AlaskaCredit: Nate Worrell

Only a couple hours of a drive from Anchorage will get you to Exit.  You can walk right up to it and chip of a chunk of the blue ice.  Information boards along the way show where it was at certain points in history.  There is also some info about the legendary ice worms. 

3. Eklutna Glacier

Eklutna Lake and Bold PeakCredit: I, Spireguy

The feeding source of Eklutna lake, this one is about an hour away from Anchorage, but requires a long hike to get to it.  If you don't have a desire to make the trek, the large turquoise lake is impressive itself.

4. Polar Bear Glacier

Eagle River AlaskaCredit: Walter Siegmund

This glacier feeds Eagle River, and while it is a pretty tough mountain climb to get it to it, it is easily visible from the Eagle River nature center trails.

5. Matanuska Glacier

Mouth of the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska By Sbork (Own image)Credit: Walter Siegmund

This is one of the easiest to get to.  A couple hour drive north of Anchorage will get you to the visitor center.  A simple walk will take you right up to it. 

6. Knik Glacier

Knik Glacier AlaskaCredit: McStyles at Wikipedia

 Take another hike, or a boat ride, or snow machine in the winter, to get to the glacier that feeds the Knik river.

7. Whittier's Glaciers


Dramtic_view_of_Marjerie_glacier_from_a_cruise_shipCredit: By Nvvchar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Whittier is a wonderful little town for a great day trip. Drive or take a train through the Whittier tunnel and when you get their take a cruise through Prince William Sound and see any of the 26 glaciers that empty into the water.  These are incredible to get close too and watch as they calve into the ocean. For the more adventurous, rent a kayak and have an up close experience.

8. Spencer Glacier

Alaska_Railroad_train_to_Spencer_GlacierCredit: By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You will see the glacier by train only.  Hop on the iconic Alaska Railroad to get a look at this impressive hunk of ice.  By the way, the Alaska Railroad is a great way to experience a lot of what the state has to offer.

9. Harding Ice Field

Harding IcefieldCredit: By Sujohn Das from Seattle, USA (Harding Ice Field) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

While technically not a glacier, the Harding Ice Field is something you can't miss.  If you choose to visit Exit Glacier, you'll be experiencing part of the ice field.  It is the size of New Hampshire, and will blow you away.  It's a top destination for ice climbing.

10. Cruising Through Kenai Fjords

By Dr. Terry McTigue, NOAA, NOS, NCCOS, CCMA. (NOAA Photo Library: line3860) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsCredit: By Sujohn Das from Seattle, USA (Harding Ice Field) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If your Alaskan experience is limited to a cruise, do not despair.  Even floating by the state, you will get to see beautiful blue glaciers clinging to the sides of mountains. The only question that remains is how many pictures will you take?

Alaska's Easy to Access Glaciers

Next Best Thing to Seeing a Glacier

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
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Of course, if you can't make it up to Alaska, a coffee table book with great photos is a wonderful substitute.