Valdez is one of Alaska’s many beautiful port towns. Unlike the Kenai port towns of Homer and Seward, Valdez is tucked deep inside the majestic Prince William Sound. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline runs from Deadhorse, a small city along the north slope of the Arctic Ocean, all the way down to Valdez. It was strange to see the pipeline again, after leaving it weeks ago at the Arctic Circle. How many gallons of oil have traveled through that slithering pipe since we saw it last?
Fishing in Valdez
In Valdez, halibut fishing is an all day event. Charters often leave before sunrise and do not return until 7 or 8pm. The boats always haul back a variety of humongous fish – halibut, yellow-eye, cod, salmon, and the tourists love to pose with their prized catch. Silver and pink salmon were running when we arrived in Valdez. We couldn’t afford a charter and our refrigerator is too small for a huge halibut, so we fished for salmon at Allison Point.
Aside from the abundance of fish, Valdez is known for being home to a plethora of rabbits. Yes, rabbits! Dozens of adorable fluffy bunnies prance around town all day and night, much to the delight of the tourists, and the detest of the locals. Our dog was in heaven, darting after every furry critter! Her rabbit-fever made it difficult to take her on a walk.
Lu-Lu Belle Glacier Cruise
We did splurge for a guided boat tour of Columbia Glacier. The Lu-Lu Belle glacier cruise came highly recommended by our nomadic friends – the Snowmads. After driving around Alaska for a month, half exhausted and half lost, a lazy day cruising around Prince William Sound with someone else making all the decisions sounded wonderful.
On board the Lu Lu Belle, we rotated between our comfortable seats inside the saloon and the brisk open air of the deck. Our informative and cheerful captain narrated the entire cruise. He joked about his hatred for sea lions, spoke his mind on the subject of “global warming” and told us of Valdez folklore.
Safari on Water
During the eight hour cruise we saw a plethora of wildlife. Sea lions dove from towering rocks. A humpback whale sprayed a mist as he came up for air. An orca’s fin sliced the water. Spotted puffins, otters, seals and dall’s porpoises danced around our boat. It was like a safari on water.
The highlight of the glacier cruise was, of course, the Columbia glacier. As we approached the cove, a gigantic floating iceberg calved and turned, revealing it’s aqua underbelly. It was a thrilling sight but if the boat had been close to the glacier we could have capsized! Luckily our captain, who navigates this cove every day all summer long, knew to keep our distance.
Ever wondered what an iceberg the size of a ten story building looks like when it rolls? Well here you go. Thanks #lulubellecruise for the #onceinalifetimeexperience! This is about 4.5x faster than real time. #thatswhyyoudontwalkonthem #iceberg #icebergrolling #icebergroll #columbiaglacier #princewilliamsound #lulubelle #Alaska #valdez
We waded through the icy water at a slow speed. On a good day, the Lu-Lu Belle is able to get within a quarter mile of the glacier. Not today! At 15 miles from the glacier, we began wading through a river ice. The experience was fascinating and added an element of drama – many on board were afraid. The ice cracked and almost fizzled as we slowly carved our way towards the glacier. We were surrounded by a white, melting blanket. It was surreal.
Eventually we had to turn around, still a few miles from the glacier, but I wasn’t disappointed. Our icy adventure was unique and unforgettable.
Lu-Lu Belle Glacier Cruise: $125 per person / 7-9 hours round trip Rating: So worth it!