We set out on my first 2-hour trail ride to Knik Glacier near Palmer and Butte, Alaska. The Knik Glacier is about 50 miles east of Anchorage and is considered one of the largest glaciers in southcentral Alaska. It’s a popular spot where you can go on glacier tours or plan flightseeing trips.
According to Alaska.org, it is also known as the “ice field” because of the glacial recession over the years creating a giant lake. Which makes sense because we drove on ice for what seems like FOREVER and I was super nervous about driving on ice! But, not to fret – ice thickness ranges up to 40 inches in the southern parts of Alaska.
So many Jeeps and off-roaders come out here to view magnificent views of mountains and the glacier, explore ice caves, do donuts on (very) thick ice, and slide down random ice boulders (Yup, we did it all)! I mean, how many can say they Jeep’d out to a glacier!? Many off-roaders come out even to hang out around a campfire, roast hot dogs while the kids and dogs run around. It’s not terribly cold as long as you layer. February is the ideal time for us because it’s warm enough to go out but cold enough for the ice to hold us. February is pretty much the last chance you can drive out to the glacier in the winter because it’s just before March where everything starts to melt as temps rise. This is called “break up season” which happens at the tail end of winter. However, be cautious when driving on ice at any time during the winter. Some signs of thin ice include slightly blue and almost translucent color, when you hear running water underneath, or large cracks.
It’s also always recommended to go with others who have been before since there are several different trails to get out there. Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring recovery and survival essentials for this lengthy trip. Yes, 2 hours but so worth the ride out there!