These beautiful valleys were shaped during the last Ice Age by massive glaciers etching their way through the Chugach, Talkeetna and Alaska mountain ranges. Today, ice continues to sculpt the land, leaving behind rugged valleys, silty rivers and open plateaus now covered with trees and tundra spotted with lakes.
Two major highways serve the valley; the George Parks Hwy. and the Glenn
Hwy. Contact the
Matanuska-Susitna Visitor Center, located at Mile 35.5 on Parks Hwy. @ 746-5000.
Palmer. Its downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places as the best remaining example of a series of 99 projects by the federal
government to relocate farmers from depressed areas in the Lower 48.
Today, you can see the surviving homesteads and farms. Walking tour maps available at the Palmer Visitor Center, 732 S. Valley Way, Palmer. @ 745-2880.
Wasilla. Established as a trade center for the mining district and railroad construction in the 1920s, Wasilla is now known for its numerous recreational areas. Population is around 4,000. Also home of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters (Mile 2.2 on Knik Rd.), Dog racing memorabilia and films shown. Winter hours:
Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 376-5155.
Knik. (pronounced Kuh-nik) Mile 14 on the Knik-Goose Bay Rd. An Iditarod checkpoint and home to the Knik Museum and Sled Dog Mushers Hall of Fame. Dog mushing memorabilia. Phone: 376-2005.
Big Lake. Turnoff at Mile 52. Named for its incredible size, it's the largest of several lakes in this area. Offers year-round recreation. Popular winter activities include skating, skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing. State- operated fish hatchery is open to visitors.
Willow. Founded as a Talkeetna Mountain gold-mining camp. Because of its ideal snow conditions, the area is used by many dogsled teams for training.
Talkeetna. A popular point of departure for flightseeing trips and climbing
expeditions to Mount McKinley, 45 air miles/72 air km to the north. A museum features mining and climbing displays. Three rivers converge near Talkeetna, providing salmon and trout fishing, spring through fall. Charter flightseeing and riverboating available. Winter activities offer dog mushing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.