Alaska Vacation: Kayaking and Rafting Adventures in Valdez

by Javen Hunter ·

Valdez is a premier Alaska spot for kayaking and whitewater rafting adventures. Located in magnificent Prince William Sound, it is surrounded by breathtaking glacial fjords, gushing waterfalls, and abundant marine wildlife. Paddling a sea kayak allows you to get close to actively calving tidewater glaciers. Moreover, rafting the rapids of churning rivers like Lowe and Klutina takes you racing through jaw-dropping landscapes. With an array of guided tours and outfitters, Valdez offers the perfect destination for an Alaska vacation focused on thrilling wilderness exploration by kayak and raft. Expert guides assist you while specialized gear and equipment are provided. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Alaska Vacation

Overview of Valdez

Valdez resides protected on Alaska’s southern coast in Prince William Sound. It is nestled between the towering Chugach Mountains and the cold ocean waters. Towering peaks over 10,000 feet high loom dramatically above. After the devastating 1964 Good Friday earthquake wiped out the original settlement, Valdez was rebuilt just four miles away in an equally scenic location. This town of around 4,000 residents is a gateway for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Visitors flock to Valdez seeking opportunities for remote wilderness access in the pristine sound by sea and land. Prepare to be awestruck by the majestic landscapes.

Best Time for Kayaking and Rafting

An Alaska vacation in Valdez is the perfect opportunity to experience thrilling whitewater rafting adventures and breathtaking kayaking excursions. To experience the best kayaking and whitewater rafting conditions, visit Valdez from May to early September. Summer brings warmer weather, with typical highs around 60°F. The long summer days provide extra time on the water for kayaking and rafting. In early summer, small icebergs from glacial runoff float by. Come in late summer to see plentiful marine wildlife like whales, seals, and otters. For absolutely prime conditions, aim to travel between June and August.

Prince william sound

Kayaking Valdez’s Glacial Fjords and Coastline

If you are looking for an adventurous Alaska vacation, the remote wilderness around Valdez offers premier kayaking and rafting opportunities. Kayaking allows you to explore Valdez’s magnificent fjords, bays, and coastline up close and personal. Guided sea kayaking tours make it easy to spot breathtaking glaciers shedding icebergs the size of trucks and fascinating wildlife like lounging seals and breaching whales. If you prefer exploring solo, kayak rentals let you chart your half-day or full-day course after getting helpful maps and insider tips from outfitters in town. Don’t miss paddling near Shoup Glacier to witness the dramatic sights and sounds of ancient blue ice chunks crashing loudly into the sea after breaking off the calving face. In addition, Nichols Bay near Bridal Veil Falls and Sawmill Bay near old sawmill ruins offer more relaxed opportunities to view otters, seals, and eagles.

Whitewater Rafting Valdez’s Rugged Rivers

In addition to kayaking its glacial fjords, Valdez provides top-notch whitewater rafting on its many picturesque rivers. Options range from mellow half-day family floats to intense multi-day trips, tailored for all ages and skill levels. The beginner-friendly Lowe River features mostly Class II rapids, perfect for kids. On the other hand, the remote Klutina River offers an adrenaline rush courtesy of its churning Class IV rapids winding through a steep canyon. Multi-day trips allow riverside camping under the stars between thrilling rapids. While dodging boulders and riding waves, keep your eyes peeled for bears, eagles, and caribou on shore. Trusted outfitters like Alaska River Outfitters supply experienced guides to ensure fun and safety on the water for all.

Prince williams sound Alaska

Top Outfitters for Guided Adventures

For the best kayaking and rafting adventures in Valdez, it is recommended to book with reliable local outfitters who provide guided tours. Companies like Anadyr Adventures, Alaska Sea Kayakers, and Valdez U-Drive focus on guided kayaking day trips and rentals ideal for beginners and families. In contrast, Alaska River Outfitters exclusively provides rafting adventures, from thrilling day trips to extended multi-day expeditions deep in the Alaskan wilderness. For diversity, Alaska Sea Kayakers offers multi-day package tours combining kayaking and rafting. When booking, ask questions about difficulty, group sizes, experience requirements, and provided gear to find your perfect adventure. Reading reviews helps choose a top-rated outfitter.

Ideal Lodging for Easy Access

Valdez has many great lodging options providing easy access to kayaking and rafting. Look for accommodations near the harbor and marina, like Best Western Harbor Inn or Mountain Sky Hotel, to walk to kayaking launch points. Campgrounds such as Bear Paw RV Park also offer water access. Some rafting outfitters have rustic riverside cabins perfect for multi-day trips. Having your vehicle offers flexibility, but many outfitters also provide convenient shuttles between activities and town.

jackpot bay Prince williams sound

Additional Activities to Pair

Beyond paddling and rafting, Valdez offers many complementary activities and attractions. Book a guided fishing charter to reel in massive halibut and salmon in the nutrient-rich waters of Prince William Sound - then grill up your catch for dinner! Join a flightseeing aerial tour to admire breathtaking glacier and mountain scenery from the sky. Meander along trails and beaches looking for bears, mountain goats, whales, sea otters, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Don’t miss visiting historical and cultural attractions like the Valdez Museum, Alyeska Pipeline, and Gold Rush-era relics to gain perspective on the area’s storied past. The stunning scenery and wildlife make Valdez an ideal destination for an unforgettable Alaska vacation focused on paddling activities.

Dining and Nightlife in Valdez

After full days spent adventuring, refuel on delicious local food and brews. Try fresh-caught halibut fish and chips, grilled salmon, or alder smoked salmon appetizers. Top dinner spots include Totem Bar & Grill, Roadside Potatohead, and Rogue’s Garden. End your night at local watering holes like the quirky Fat Mermaid Bar or lively Pipeline Club, especially during the peak summer season when Valdez’s small-town vibe springs to life.

Kayak Lake Alaska

Accessing Valdez by Car, Ferry, or Plane

Located at the terminus of the Richardson Highway, Valdez can be accessed by rental car or RV for a scenic road trip. Many travelers take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Whittier, Cordova, or Anchorage to enjoy coastal views. Flights operate year-round into Valdez Airport from Anchorage via smaller commuter aircraft. Having your vehicle allows maximum flexibility, but shuttles, tours, and taxis are available for getting around town.

Start Planning Your Valdez Adventure

With its magnificent wilderness setting surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and wildlife galore, Valdez offers the perfect Alaskan adventure destination. Paddling past breaching humpback whales, rafting down roaring rapids, and spying on otters and bears in their natural habitat allows you to connect intimately with Valdez’s natural beauty. Let the experts at the local guiding outfitters help you plan the perfect Alaska vacation in Valdez tailored to your interests and abilities. Experienced local guides provide expertise while you relax and soak up the sights. Staying near the water means quick access to activities. Combine paddling and rafting excursions with flightseeing, fishing, and hiking for the ultimate escape. Let the call of adventure inspire planning an incredible Valdez getaway immersed in the Alaskan wilderness.

Read more about Ocean Kayak: A Beginner’s Guide to Explore Open Waters.

Also read more about Places To Kayak: 8 Best Ocean Kayaking Destinations to Explore.