Alaska Visitors Guide

Valdez: Fun awaits at the end of the road

Valdez is an end-of-the-road town teeming with endless adventure, a sure bet for summertime fun where visitors can fill up on great food, fishing and fun.

Located at the head of a deep fjord in eastern Prince William Sound, Valdez is a 300-mile drive from Anchorage, which is an adventure in itself. Motorists will enjoy endless views of mountains, glaciers, wildlife, waterfalls and more. Travelers can get to Valdez by the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry. Drive an hour south of Anchorage to Whittier, and enjoy front-row views of beautiful Prince William Sound.

Valdez delights with small-town charm and a unique place in Alaska history. In the early 1900s, Valdez enjoyed a prosperous Gold Rush era, but its landscape changed forever when the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused the deaths of 32 residents and the demise of the town as it was.

History buffs can visit the original Valdez townsite today. The old site is just a few miles east of modern Valdez, and it’s a quiet place of remembrance, marked with signage and a seaside pioneer cemetery. Salvageable buildings were moved to the town’s current location. Download information for a self-guided walking tour ( to view those buildings that survived the quake.

The Valdez Museum and Historical Archive showcases the town’s vibrant history, from its earliest Alaska Native occupants to its prospector days to its modern form. Nearby, the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum boasts one of the largest collections of Alaska Native art and artifacts in the world. Check their respective websites for operating hours.

While Valdez bursts to life in the summer, it’s home to nearly 4,000 people year-round. There’s one post office and one main grocery store. Many residents work for or in connection to the terminus of the historic trans-Alaska pipeline system, visible across Port Valdez. The town is simply arranged and easy to navigate, with walkable, open roads and frequent, sweeping views of the surrounding mountains that beckon to backcountry adventurers.

Valdez visitors have endless opportunities to hike, bike, boat, kayak, fish and more. The Valdez vicinity serves as a jumping-off point for countless remarkable hikes and trails, including the Dock Point Trail, Gold Creek Trail, the Valdez Glacier area for hikes and kayaking, and Mineral Creek, which cuts deep into the folds of the surrounding mountains toward old mining territory.


Alaska Guide Co. offers an array of guided excursions, whether you want to paddle, ice climb, rock climb, hike, backpack or mountain bike. Valdez Stay and Play offers adventures like glacier tours and electric bike rentals. Kayak outfits Anadyr Adventures and Pangea are also reputable for safe, unforgettable, fully outfitted experiences.

For a more relaxing experience, try a sightseeing charter: Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruises offers far-ranging day cruises aboard smooth-sailing catamarans. Ventures range from 6 to 7.5 hours. The comfortable ships are captained by knowledgeable crews who will delight passengers with information about the history, wildlife and landscapes of the area.

While a trip into Prince William Sound will stun, wildlife lovers have plenty of opportunity to see animals in and around town too. Watch harbor waters for lolling otters or the occasional orca, and look up for bald eagles. It’s worth a drive around Port Valdez to Allison Point for a chance to see black bears pawing waters near the hatchery for pink salmon, though they’re known to stroll nonchalantly about town as well.

For souvenirs commemorating your Valdez visit, start at The Prospector. This outdoor outfitter remains the go-to spot for outerwear, fishing and hunting gear, and more. The Valdez Art Co-Op sells wares by local artists. And on the waterfront, The Painted Moose is an excellent spot for gifts and trinkets.

To drink and dress like a local, visit Valdez Brewing, buy a pint of local beer and a stylish branded hoodie, and enjoy the industrial-chic taproom or the spacious outdoor patio. Valdez Brewing is one of two breweries in town and often has a food truck parked close by. The second is Growler Bay Brewing Co. At press time, its more limited hours were 4-9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.

Valdez boasts a satisfying assortment of restaurants. The Fat Mermaid on North Harbor Drive offers sensational pizza and a full bar with occasional live music and an outdoor dining area. Its salads and starters are great options too.

Fu Kung Chinese Restaurant, a local staple, has a big menu that includes plentiful vegetarian options. A cluster of food trucks also on North Harbor Drive offer delicious variety, including tacos and Thai cuisine.

Also by the harbor is The Roadside Potatohead, open May 1 to Sept. 15. This corner-spot restaurant has excellent beer and wine options and al fresco patio dining, plus fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and anglers returning with their daily catch.