Glacier Hiking in Alaska | Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

What to Know About Glacier Hiking in Alaska

June 7, 2021

Did you know glaciers are found on every continent except Australia? These slow-moving rivers of ice cover 10 percent of Earth’s surface—yet the opportunity to see one up close doesn’t come around often, if ever. And, as Earth’s temperature gradually rises, glaciers are retreating across the globe, making the opportunity to witness these remnants of the ice age even more spectacular. If you’re looking for one of the coolest activities you can do on two feet, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge offers some pretty cool info on everything you need to know about glacier hiking.

Where Can You Glacier Hike in the U.S.?

In the United States, nine states are home to glaciers, with the majority found in Alaska. In the lower 48, you can find glaciers in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming,
Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

However, not all glaciers are created equal—and not all can be accessed easily, let alone hiked. While there are many opportunities for viewing glaciers in the lower 48, hiking on one is a different story. Due to the dangers of hiking on a moving piece of ancient ice, walking on glaciers is discouraged or prohibited in most national parks where they’re found in the contiguous United States.

Alaska, on the other hand, has numerous opportunities for glacier hiking—more on that below.

Two people overlook a glacier field where massive blocks of ice tower in front of them.

Glacier Hiking in Alaska

Alaska has 616 officially named glaciers and tens of thousands more that are unnamed (some estimates account for 100,000 glaciers in Alaska) with opportunities for both guided and unguided glacier hiking.

Some of the most popular spots for glacier hiking include Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Worthington Glacier in Worthington Glacier State Park, Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park, Knik Glacier, and Spencer Glacier.

At Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, we have access to some of the biggest glaciers in all of Alaska, like Triumvirate and Hayes. Just a short helicopter ride away, we can explore many of these ice masses and safely discover moulins (massive glacial sinkholes), ice caves, and crevasses. Learn more about heli hiking with our awesome group of experienced guides.

What is the Best Time to Go Glacier Hiking?

The best time to see glaciers—and hike on them—is in the summer, when most of the winter snow has melted away and temperatures are more comfortable. Another bonus of a summer trip to Alaska is the sun never sets (during June, anyway), which means you can pack more into each day. Late may to mid-September is a great time to visit Alaska.

Hikers from Tordrillo Mountain Lodge look into the crevasse of an Alaska glacier.

What Do You Wear While Glacier Hiking?

The basic equipment for glacier hiking includes standard hiking equipment, like comfortable hiking boots, layered clothing, sun protection, and anything else you would bring for a day hike. However, depending on the hike, level of difficulty—and the innate dangers of glacier hiking—additional equipment might be needed and recommended to ensure your safety.

There’s no better time to see glaciers than now. As they continue to recede, there’s no telling how easy it will be to glacier trek in the future. If you’re ready to book it to Alaska, take a look at the summer packages at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

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