Visiting Valdez was like having the ultimate history lesson in 24-hours.
Located a little over 5 hours (or 300 miles) from Anchorage sits the tiny town of Valdez, Alaska. With picturesque mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and lakes, it’s easy to see why people love calling Valdez home. While this town is most known for two tragedies that struck there; the Good Friday earthquake of 1964 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, it’s also a great place for fishing, camping, eating and exploring. The history here is both fascinating and sad and it’s definitely worth a visit. We spent two nights here with one full day of exploration.
What to See & Do:
- Valdez Museum & Historical Archive: There are actually two locations to this museum and the $9 entrance fee grants you access to both. One location is solely focused on the history of the old town site and the 1964 earthquake which badly damaged the town and took the lives of 32 people. This museum site also has a model replica of the town and shows a video with interviews of locals who lived through the quake. We spent about 3 hours visiting both museums and it was certainly worth the admission price.
- Walk around town: It doesn’t take long to walk the strip of waterfront shops & restaurants and stroll through the boat harbor. It’s a great way to snap some amazing pictures and get a lay of the land.
- See the town play: We learned a lot from visiting the two museums in town, but if you’re looking for a way more entertaining and hilarious way to absorb the history of Valdez, check out the Vaudeville show – A Romp in Valdez. At the time of this post, the show has a few more weeks of run time (but we hope they find a way to continue it!). Written and performed by locals with the perfect amount of comedy, history, fantastic acting and cheeky humor, we thought it was extremely well done. Admission was $15 each for two people (single tickets are $18) and worth every penny for an evening of entertainment. Get tickets here.
Where to Eat:
- Roadside Potatohead: This place was so good, we ate here twice in a matter of 12 hours! They have a small, but well-rounded menu. They’re well-known for their breakfast and oh-so delicious rosemary and garlic curly fries. (They’re as good as they sound!) We had the Salmon Roll & Pulled Pork Sandwich with the curly fries for dinner. The next morning, we both had the Black Bean Breakfast Burrito (one with added homemade sausage, one with added guac) and it just might have been the best breakfast burrito we’ve ever had. Plus, they have a great patio where you can watch the boats come in and take in the breathtaking 360-degree mountain views.
Where to Stay:
- Valdez Glacier Lake: If you’re RVing in Valdez, there’s a fantastic boondocking spot that is WAY better than the RV parks we saw downtown. Follow Airport Road past the airport until you can’t go any further and you’ll come to Valdez Glacier Lake. You’ll enjoy beautiful scenery and fire pits without being packed in like sardines. ? It’s about a 15 minute drive into town. If you must have toilets and showers, there’s also the city-run Glacier Campground on the left before you get to the boondocking goodness. There is a public shooting range on this road and you will hear the gunshots from either campground, however they stopped most nights by 9:30 and didn’t begin again until the next morning around 8:30 am. I (Katelyn) am a very light sleeper and I wasn’t bothered by them at all. We did walk around a few of the RV parks in town and they are gravel lots with full hook-ups. We could see this being ideal if you are fishing in town and want to be close to the harbor.
Valdez Fast Facts:
?️ This is the only town in the world that has ever been completely relocated. It was moved 4 miles west of the original site.
? The original site was badly damaged in the largest quake ever recorded in North America. It was a 9.2 that struck on Good Friday in 1964. 32 people died that day in Valdez alone.
?️ Disaster struck again with the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. It’s taken years to clean up and there are still remnants along the coastal areas.
? The original town bar, The Pinzon Bar, is now on display in the Valdez Museum. It was dismantled after the ’64 quake.
? The town has a highly controversial bunny problem, which we’re still trying to figure out.