Because it is so centralized, Palmer offers a perfect starting point for many different day trip activities. You can climb a glacier, hike a mountain or the smaller butte, visit rivers, see the city, learn the history of the area, see Musk Oxen or reindeer, and any number of other great activities that both locals and visitors love.
Day Trips from Palmer
Here are a couple of great ways to spend the day in the Palmer area:
Gold Mines and Glaciers
Spend a day exploring the gold mines at Hatcher’s Pass and and Alaska’s largest roadside
- First stop: Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park. A self-guided tour provides the tale of bygone Alaska gold rush days. Or choose for the behind-the-scenes guided tour offering a look inside the abandoned mine buildings.
- Majestic mountains surround Hatcher Pass. Hike through treeless tundra and discover Summit Lake. Identify wild flowers or pick ripe berries in late summer.
- Enjoy a meal or piece of pie at the lodge before driving towards Palmer and head east on the Glenn Highway, which leads to Matanuska Glacier (mile 102). Park and walk a short, easy distance to touch the glacier ice. Guided glacier treks and iceclimbing available.
- Enjoy an evening raft trip on the mighty glacial fed Matanuska River. From mild to wild, several first-class outfitters offer multiple departures daily.
Giant Cabbages & Muskoxen
Explore historic downtown Palmer, check out giant vegetables in Alaska’s richest agricultural area
and see the unique arctic Musk Ox up close.
- Palmer is rich in agricultural history. Learn about the colonists who came to the area at the Palmer Museum and Colony House Museum.
- Admire flowers and giant vegetables at the Palmer Visitor Center’s Showcase Garden and purchase Alaska grown produce and quality Alaska made gift items at Friday Flings open air market in downtown.
- Palmer has several excellent restaurants so take some time to enjoy lunch downtown.
- In the afternoon visit a Musk Ox farm. These animals have inhabited the Arctic for many thousands of years. The outer hairs cover a second, shorter undercoat called Quiviut that provides additional insulation in winter. This undercoat is harvested and made into unique woven items that provide exceptional warmth, more than seven times that off traditional wool.
Hiking, Glacier Dogsledding & Gourmet Food
Hike ‘the Butte’ for a grand vista of three glacial valleys, take a helicopter to Colony glacier for a dog sled tour with a real Iditarod musher and enjoy a gourmet dinner at a remote mountain lodge.
- From Palmer drive to ‘the Butte’, a glacial erratic left at the confluence of the Knik, the Matanuska and the Susitna valleys. The hike to the top is only about 20 minutes (the trail is steep in some places). On a clear day the view is unbelievable.
- The helicopter ride to your dog sledding adventure will be one of the highlights of your Alaska trip! See calving glaciers, massive icebergs and mountain goats. Land on the glacier for a trip on a real dog sled. Mush your own team and meet the new puppies. Fly back to a remote mountain lodge for a gourmet dinner with a great view.