When you visit Palmer, you’ll see Alaska At Its Best. Originally a farm colony created during the Great Depression to relieve starving farmers in the Midwest, Palmer retains its farming roots. The Valley is renowned for its giant vegetables, grown under midnight sun. The same work ethic that tilled the rich glacial soils has shaped a cooperative and can-do city where locals say hello to neighbors and visitors alike.
Palmer is located 42 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. The pedestrian-friendly downtown is filled with small shops offering books, arts and crafts, and other products from the area’s vibrant artists, businesses and services, and farmers. And what a view! From just about any point in Palmer you are ringed by majestic mountain peaks. Stop by the Visitor Information Center in the log cabin, in the middle of downtown, for information on what to do around Palmer.
Palmer is home to the Alaska State Fair, and is the seat of the Matanuska Susitna Borough government. The Mat-Su Borough spans 23,000 square miles, about the same size as West Virginia. The peace and quiet in Palmer belies a recent population explosion as thousands move to Palmer to enjoy its high quality of life.
Just outside Palmer and all close to roads are the Knik Glacier, Matanuska Peak, Pioneer Peak, and (45 miles away) the Matanuska Glacier, which offer outdoor adventure. Trek on a glacier, flight-see or take an airboat ride, hike, white-water raft, ride ATVs or horses, or sight-see by car in some of the most accessible natural beauty in Alaska.
The Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway has interpretive panels located at the Alaska State Fair commuter lot, which outline the natural attractions along the Glenn Highway north of Palmer. You won’t want to miss Hatcher Pass and explore Independence Mine, a former gold mine with an interpretive center. It’s also fun to learn about musk ox, domesticated caribou herds, and NOAA’s north Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.