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Called the Switzerland of Alaska, Valdez is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. Situated at the head of a deep, still Port Valdez fjord, the city is surrounded by the breathtaking Chugach Mountains, the most glaciated mountains in the northwest and only eleven miles from spectacular Prince William Sound.
Valdez Port is located in the northeast part of Prince William Sound, amongst the Chugach Mountains. It sits near the beginning of a deep-water inlet, and is the area's most important fishing and docking port. Even though Valdez is located in Alaska and the only port this far north, it's completely ice-free. Valdez is home to over 4,000 people and has a significant history due to the 1898 Gold Rush, and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline in the 1970's. Major cruise lines, day cruise boats, and a regional ferry keep Valdez connected to the outside world, and when docking in Valdez, you'll have the opportunity to spend a couple of days here.
Gorgeous Valdez is set in the picturesque Prince William Sound in Southeast Alaska. It is a region bursting with life and filled with magnificent historical sights and museums. In 1989, an Exxon oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on the Bligh Reef and lost eleven million gallons of oil in the Prince William Sound.
Unfortunately, the Exxon Valdez oil spill still taints the image of Valdez. The entire area was affected; cities, animals, and shoreline suffered. In the years following the spill, tourists began to shy away from Valdez a bit, perhaps from fear of being exposed to harmful fumes or because of other residual effects of the spill. But the two billion dollar cleanup operation proved quite effective. The total cleanup took more than three years, and during this time, though tourism declined, the population of the city tripled, because of the thousands of workers hired for the reconstructive work along the shores of the Prince William Sound. On completion of the cleanup project, many of the workers who had temporarily moved to Valdez stayed after falling in love with this beautiful town. Since the early 1990s, tourism has really come back strong in Valdez. Its resurgence is partly due to the great fishing, exceptional hiking trials, and the fact that more snow falls in Valdez than anywhere in Alaska, making for great skiing. The average annual snowfall is an unbelievable three hundred and thirty inches. The campsites are simple but wonderful, and the scenery is spectacular.
Downtown Valdez is lively in a uniquely Alaskan way. The absence of clubs and casinos is offset by the area's relaxing atmosphere, wonderful weather, and breathtaking scenery. Valdez is a wholesome, old-fashioned town with happy-go-lucky residents and an exquisite landscape that combine to offer visitors a memorable time.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Valdez, with convenient access to the Richardson Highway.There are several transportation options in the city of Valdez for the tourist to choose from.
You can opt for a rental car by calling Valdez U Drive (800/478-4402). This is a great idea if you want to take a drive on the stunningly beautiful Richardson Highway. Or, you can take a two wheeled bicycle out for a spin by contacting Beaver Sports (907/835-4727). Finally, you can contact Valdez Yellow Cab (907/835-2500) if you would like to arrange for taxi service.
Things to See and Do
No matter when you visit the Valdez Port of Call, there will be things to see and do. If you stop in Valdez during winter time, of course there will be an abundance of snow and that means skiing, snowboarding or even snowmobiling. You could even go on a dog sledding adventure here. In Valdez, they've gotten a record 300 inches of snow during one year, and at the neighboring pass where you can ski, a whopping 900 inches of snow has fallen. If you'd rather visit during summer when its a bit warmer, you can take a boat tour leaving the John Thomas Kelsey Municipal Dock and go whale watching, fishing, or just cruise along the water and take in the beautiful scenery including glaciers and the majestic mountains.
The Valdez Museum is located at 217 Egan Dr. (907/835-2764) and contains fascinating historical accounts, artifacts, and exhibits about Valdez and the surrounding area. The museum is constantly being updated, and the displays are magnificent. One of the most interesting and enjoyable exhibits is the gold rush section, which chronicles the 1897-1898 gold rush era. The memorabilia and showcases are delightful, and the stories recounting the events of the era are always interesting.
If you happen to be in Valdez during the first week of March, it would be a shame for you to miss the annual Snowman Festival. Up until a couple of years ago when Japan topped them, Valdez held the record for building the largest snowman in history. The festival is great fun that the entire community gets involved in.
The Valdez Glacier Campground is a beautiful place to visit even if you only want to take a look around for a couple of hours. The trees and wildlife are abundant, and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. Be certain not to leave open containers and food lying around, because there are plenty of bears who wouldn't mind coming around to partake in a little snack! This is one of the best places in Valdez to take pictures or go hiking.
Gold Rush Days, held in August at the visitor center, is a fun-filled community event that features a fashion show, dance routines, and tons of entertainment. A free halibut and salmon fry is part of the event, so all you budget-minded travelers be sure to take note! The highlight of Gold Rush Days might be the ugly vehicle contest; wait until you see the pictures of past winners!
Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum
Address: At the Airport Phone: (907) 834-1614

The Solomon Gulch Hatchery
Phone: (907) 835-1329

The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive
Address: 217 Egan Dr. Phone: (907) 835-2764

Tourists flock to Valdez for the excellent fishing, and prizes for the biggest silver and pink salmon are given out annually. Contact Fish Central, located at 217 N. Harbor Dr. (888/835-5002), for information, equipment rentals, and tips on the best sites to fish during a particular time of year.
Eating Out
There are several restaurants and bars in Valdez. Since their largest commodity is fish and seafood, most every restaurant in town will serve these types of dishes.
There are a number of enjoyable eateries in Valdez that might go unnoticed by your average tourist, but not by you because you will be in the know! Oscar's on N. Harbor Dr. (907/835-4700) offers an unbelievable meal that demands a try. Bring a big appetite for the all-you-can-eat barbecue. For all you meat eaters out there, this is the spot for you. Both a lunch menu and a dinner menu are available, and if you really want to get your money's worth go, for the very reasonably priced unlimited lunch and you won't even need dinner that night! Mike's Palace can be found at 201 N. Harbor Dr. (907/835-2365) and features a fabulous selection of food from around the globe. The Italian dishes are outstanding, the Greek cuisine is scrumptious, and the seafood is great.
Valdez has the old standby of Subway Restaurants right in the heart of town, plus a couple of burger joints, but don't confuse this with regular fast food burgers. The foods and dishes served are homemade and superior to a fattening fast food menu. There's also Thai food, Greek, Chinese, a pizzeria and Mexican food restaurants to choose from. This is also the best place in Valdez to get a tasty bowl of soup. Lisa's Kitchen (907/835-5633) is open from May through August and serves wonderful Mexican food. The burritos and tamales are marvelous, and even if your Spanish is a little rusty, Lisa will appreciate the effort, so throw in a gracias and you might get a few extra beans for your buck.
The Sugarloaf Restaurant & Saloon (907/835-4445) is on the corner of Egan Street and Meals and features live music and the best beer selection in town. The Pipeline Club can be found at 112 Egan Dr. (907/835-4332) and is a low-key spot that is a perfect place to relax, have a drink, and enjoy live performances. Things heat up a little bit on Sunday and Wednesday nights when the karaoke starts up and the locals start singing.
Merchants in the Valdez Cruise Port offer different types of Alaskan-made gifts, art, apparel and souvenirs. From wooden artwork to woolen wear, gold to pants, you'll find every type of gift imaginable. One of the most popular spots to shop is Bear Paw Trading on N. Harbor Drive. They sell original native crafts, souvenirs, jewelry and apparel. Their motto is "We're the best little store in Valdez and have something for everyone". If you're looking for photography of the area, check out Gary's Valdez & Alaska Photo Gallery. Orca Bay Gifts on Galena is a unique place to shop also. They have a large collection of Alaskan Native carvings made from bone and ivory, one of a kind jewelry items and much more. If you'd like to experience old town Valdez visit Northwind Flowers and Gifts on Tatitlek Street. This is one of the only original Old Town Valdez buildings still standing after the 1964 earthquake and tsunami. They sell collectibles, fine jewelry, flowers, cards, crafts, and various other unique Alaskan gifts.

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