Get on the water to truly appreciate this quirky seaside town
Valdez is a community that can be downright intimidating when the weather socks in and the rain goes on for days. But come the first sunshiny day, the views open up and the mountains surrounding this seaside community make one understand what is so great about Valdez: It’s gorgeous.
About 4,500 people live in Valdez (pronounced Val-DEEZ, despite the fact that it is a Spanish word that is supposed to be said Val-DEZ) promoting their area through tourism, fishing or oil development. Valdez is the southern terminus to the trans-Alaska oil Pipeline, which feeds crude oil from the North Slope clear to the port for passage south.
Valdez is located 305 miles east of Anchorage and 364 miles south of Fairbanks. Even though it is right on the water, it also gets snowfall more commonly seen in high mountain passes. Annual precipitation is 62 inches., but average snowfall – this is not a typo – is 325 inches, or 27 feet.
Naturally, snow sports are popular here. Heli-skiing is particularly hot in early spring, and Valdez is where those insane scenes from extreme ski movies are shot.
But summertime is equally as stunning. With so much water, the first and best adventuring can be had by boat – kayak, skiff, tour boat, water taxi – you name it. Getting out into Prince William Sound opens up endless opportunities for explorations, from exploring hidden bays and coves to hiking trails and climbing mountains.
In town, there is a great bike path that leads out of town, and plenty of fishing options, with fishing derbies happening from May to September. More information is available at the Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau at 200 Fairbanks Drive. (www.valdezalaska.org)
TOP FOUR EVENTS IN VALDEZ
Valdez Fly-in and Air Show
Come meet with pilots, take a ride and learn more about flying. Vendors, airplanes rides and classes will be available. If you are a vendor or a pilot, don’t forget to register on the website. (www.valdezflyin.com/)
MAY 20-SEPT. 3
Valdez Fish Derbies
Take your pick, this town has it all for the itching angler. The Halibut Derby is May 20- Sept 3, Halibut Hulabaloo June 9-18, Silver Salmon July 22-Sept. 3, Women’s Silver Salmon Aug. 12, Silver Big Prize Fridays July 28 and Sept. 1. Valdez Fish Derbies has been around for 55 years. Rules and prizes have changed since then. The first derby boasted a $1,000 first place prize while this year the grand prize is $15,000 with a drawing of $10,000 at the end of the season. Buy a $10 ticket for the day or a $50 season pass at local places, go fishing and win some prizes in Valdez. (www.valdezfishderbies.com/)
Valdez Rock Climbing Festival
This is event is made for outdoor lovers. This fourth annual rock climbing festival will include open climbing, climbing clinics, yoga, slacklining and live music. (www.levitation49.org/rock-fest/)
Fireweed 400 Bike Race
Start training and challenge yourself this summer with the Fireweed 400 Bike Race. This race starts at Sheep Mountain Lodge, turns around at Captain Joe’s Gas Station in Valdez and ends back at Sheep Mountain Lodge. Or do the 200-mile option and stop in Valdez to extend your summertime fun. (www.fireweed400.com)
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