Due to popular demand, we’ve updated our Best Of Alaska Tour for 2022 to include an extra “free day” in the fishing/port town of Valdez, Alaska. Mind you, that’s a free day, not to be confused with a rest day. That’s an important distinction, so let us explain:
See, back in this tour’s formative years (we’ve been running and refining it for over a decade now), we used to call these days “rest days.” We don’t do that anymore, and for good reason.
According to MotoQuest Founder Phil Freeman: “We stopped doing that because our guests always end up doing more on rest days than normal days on the tour. Take a boat out. Go fishing. Go hike out to Worthington Glacier. There’s just so much to do.”
Don’t get us wrong, you’re certainly welcome to take ‘er easy exploring the town’s bars, shops, and eateries on foot, or paying a visit to one of Valdez’s two museums, but we wager you’ll have a tough time sitting still. Here’s why.
How To Spend Your Free Day In Valdez, Alaska
We know what you’re thinking: Why would anyone want to spend two nights in a small town best known for dropping the hottest oil spill of the 1980s? The short answer here is that after a full day exploring Valdez, the folks at Exxon will be the furthest thing from your mind when you think back on this quiet little town. Here’s a sample of what Valdez has on offer for our riders.
Ride Your Motorcycle (Who Really Needs A Break, Anyways?)
Some riders just can’t get enough punishment, and we’re not here to judge. We get it: No two derrieres are quite the same, and some folks have a much higher tolerance for monkey butt than others. Again, there’s a reason we don’t call these “rest days,” and If you’re the type that wants to get in every breathtakingly scenic mile as humanly possible, Valdez is the place to do it.
That’s because Valdez is the perfect base of operations for extended forrays through Thompson Pass, which is an absolute crown jewel of scenic Alaskan roads. Don’t get us wrong, we ride through Thompson Pass both coming into and going back out of Valdez, but this is the kind of place you want to spend a full day exploring. Take all the time you want to stop, take photos, and just experience the majestic beauty of these sweeping mountain views. No matter how much time you spend on Thompson pass, it’s always time well spent.
We just can’t say enough good things about this road: From the towering rock faces and lush mountainsides of Keystone Gorge to the cascading waterfalls that line the road leading up to the pass itself: If ever you could capture Alaska’s stunning beauty in a single day’s ride, this is the route you’d take.
Conquer Your Fear Of Heights (In A Helicopter)
If high-octane thrills and edge of your seat excitement get your blood going, congratulations: You’re a healthy, well-adjusted human being. Sure, you could spend your day exploring Valdez from ground level, but if you’d rather get your kicks from the air, there’s nothing quite like seeing Alaska via a Robinson R44 Raven helicopter.
Valdez’s local helicopter tours take you over the majestic Prince William Sound, through the epic Chugach mountain range, and will even land right on top of Columbia Glacier, where you’re free to get out, explore, and drink some fresh glacial water straight from the source. Few people get the opportunity to hear the thunderous and otherworldly sounds of a glacier calving right beneath you: Don’t pass this one up.
Get Your Wildlife Fix (And Eat It, Too)
At its heart, Valdez is very much a “harbor town” and as you might expect, there’s no shortage of boats to charter out of nearby Small Boat Harbor.
If you’re interested in taking a break from the open road to explore the open seas, many of our riders opt to book a sightseeing cruise with one of the local outfitters. These cruises run anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, and get you up close and personal to epic walls of ice like the Columbia, Shupe, and Meares glaciers. Along the way you’ll have ample opportunity to float alongside whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions, as well as an up-close look at local birds like horned puffins, arctic terms, and bald eagles.
Now, while we can’t recommend eating any of the above game, the sportsmen on our tour can also book a fishing trip with a local charter. These folks really know their stuff, and you’re all but guaranteed to reel in your body weight in salmon, halibut, and rockfish. Many riders opt to bring their catch in with them to grill up for dinner, but you’ll also have the option of having some of nature’s tastiest treats flash-frozen and sent back home to enjoy long after the magic of your adventure has worn off.
Explore On Foot (But Watch Where You Step)
With all this grandiose beauty surrounding Valdez, it should come as no surprise that this place is a hiker’s paradise. Some of the most scenic trails in the state call Valdez home, and there’s something for everyone in terms of length, difficulty, and sights on offer.
If you’re more the short and sweet hiker, for instance, you can check out Homestead Trail, a quick 1.2 mile out and back with tons of wildlife viewing opportunities. Time your hike right, and you’ll get a chance to witness the local salmon population fighting their way upstream to spawn. Of course where there are fish trying to mate, there are always bears trying to ruin a consensual good time, so we recommend keeping your eyes peeled and giving anything large and furry a wide berth if you intend to finish your adventure in one piece.
If hiking a little further off the beaten path is more your speed, you won’t want to miss the John Hunter Memorial Trail (formerly Solomon Gulch Trail). This 3.8 mile round trip takes you through dense forests, past a rushing waterfall, and across Solomon Gulch Creek before dropping you out onto an incredible view of the deep blue waters of Soloman Lake.
…And That’s Just The Tip Of The Iceberg
We could honestly go on for hours about the merits of this town, but there’s really no way to convey Valdez with words: You’ll just have to come see it for yourself. You choose your own adventure here, whether it’s an all-paved trip like the Best Of Alaska or one of our other rides with stops in Valdez like the Alaska Northern Lights Adventure.
There’s a reason our customers keep coming back to these places season after season, which also explains why our Alaska tours are booking up quicker than ever this year. If you’re feeling Alaska-curious yourself, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and lock down your 2022 trip sooner than later.
And of course, if you’ve got questions about Valdez, our free days, or our tour itineraries in general, you can always shoot us an email with your name and number and one of our guides will be happy to get in touch.
We’ll see you out there.