"Glenn Highway (Anchorage to Glennallen)" Top 5 Page for this destination Alaska Travelogue by PA2AKgirl
Alaska Travel Guide: 6,662 reviews and 14,000 photos
The Glenn Highway ranges from a narrow winding road through dramatic scenery to an interstate to a parking lot at times. It goes over passes, by glaciers and into the largest Alaska city. You have to navigate through caribou and moose crossings, possible avalanches and rockslides and then people and other motorists cutting you off. You'll see impressive mountains, flats, rivers and rock formations. It's definitely a great drive but in sections, a slow progression.
The Glenn Highway turns into 5th Avenue in Anchorage. Stop. Go. Almost get hit by another car. Stop. Stop. A "gentlemen's club." Stop (but not there). Go 1/16th of a mile. Stop. (lights take forever in Anchorage)
While Anchorage isn't a huge city, the hundreds of thousands of people who live here want to go somewhere. Problem is, there isn't anywhere to really go for a short getaway. What do you do once you get to Indian or to Sutton? So, trips are made to the mall, to the bars, to sporting events. All within Anchorage. All the residents of the city are driving on the city streets (no beltway, no perimeter, no spur). Alaska 1, which was once the Glenn, turns into the New Seward at 15th and then the Seward Highway leading south.
You'll likely go through some weather changes on this route. While it may be warm and sunny in Anchorage, it may be snowing up at Eureka Summit and cold in Glennallen (or maybe even in east Anchorage). The road is open all year but can be tricky in the winter even near the city. Fog (sometimes freezing fog) can cover the Mat-Su Valley greatly reducing visibility.
To add to the disaster potential, it's also a high moose crossing area and the road is filled with commuters.
This looks like a major intersection. It actually is, so good guess. But it's the last one like it you'll see on the Glenn. In fact, you'll soon be losing that precious 2nd lane. And probably stuck behind the slowest driver ever through Palmer. We usually are.
There are actually a lot of farms in Alaska. While the growing season is short, you have to remember that there is so much light during those months, it gives the plants a lot of time to grow. There have been 100lb cabbages! There's also a gray owl farm and a musk ox farm along the Glenn outside of Palmer.
A bit beyond Palmer, the road narrows. Speed doesn't change so much for the trucks coming at you down the hill or locals impatiently tailgating (where do these people have to be? There's no towns this way for long time.) but there's a lot to see. The river sometimes looks like a few streams merging. Pretty. We say that a lot. Anywhere we go in Alaska, we say "Beautiful." "Pretty." "Incredible." and realize that's the 10th time we've said that in an hour. But our vocabulary seems to be limited as there's nothing to truly describe Alaskan beauty and the pictures don't show how large, vast and towering the physical features are. You do feel small. I suppose it puts us in our place.
If you drive the roads that follow the Chugach mountains, you'll have lots of glacier pictures. In our case, lots of pictures of the same glaciers. Five trips to Matanuska Glacier (shown in the picture) and each time, 10 or more photos were taken. In the winter, it looks a bit like lumpy snow.
Glennallen is just down the road. The Wrangell Mountains just beyond that. Having never been to Glennallen before but knowing its strategic location at the intersection of the Glenn and the Richardson and close to the Tok Cutoff, it has to be a great town, right? It's a control city, mentioned on weather forecasts, close to Wrangell-St. Elias...I imagine this cute, perhaps swiss looking retreat. Afterall, people coming in from the lower 48 and Canada headed south will go through here. I'm excited. And then we arrive. "This must just be the outskirts", I'm thinking as we pass by waterlogged junkyards and trailers that should be condemned. At the intersection, I look every which way to find downtown Glennallen. It doesn't exist. The hub of Glennallen is a gas station called the "Hub of Alaska" and a seasonal visitor center all in the same parking lot. Gas is 50 cents more per gallon than in Anchorage. Hope your RV came with a personal loan officer.
Your choice here is to either turn north or south on the Richardson Highway to go toward Fairbanks or Valdez, respectively. Or if you're Canada bound, turn north on the Richardson and connect to the Tok Cutoff just up the road.
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