Tok to Valdez, AK ~ 265 miles
Jul 15, 2007
|SUNDAY, JULY 15 - DAY 13 - TRAVEL DAY
TOK TO VALDEZ - 265 miles
CAMPGROUND DESTINATION TONIGHT: BEAR PAW RV PARK
Directions -- From Richardson Hwy (Hwy. 4 in town) SW to Meals Ave. S (left) .1 mile to N Harbor Dr., East (left) 150 ft.
Milepost guide page 670
Bear Paw Camper Park is located on North Harbor Drive in downtown Valdez next to the small boat harbor and will be our host for the next three nights.
Our travel today will be over the Richardson Highway from a junction near Glennallen. This is Alaska's first highway. It started as a pack trail by summer and snow sled trail by winter. The 800-mile Alaska pipeline parallels the highway from Valdez through Delta Junction. Be on the lookout for graceful waterfalls on your drive to Valdez. About 30 miles from Valdez you will see the Worthington Glacier. It's worth the stop to get some great pictures.
Valdez is the second oldest city in Alaska. It was established in 1897-98 as a port of entry for gold seekers bound for the Klondike goldfields. Thousands of Stampeders arrived in Valdez to follow the Valdez trail to the Eagle mining district in Alaska's Interior. And from there up the Yukon River to Dawson City and the Klondike. Situated in a majestic fjord, where the 5,000-foot tall Chugach Mountains rise from Prince William Sound, Valdez is often called Alaska's "Little Switzerland."
The Valdez trail was an especially deadly route, the first part of it leading over Valdez Glacier, where the early Stampeders faced dangerous crevasses, snow blindness and exhaustion. Valdez is Alaska's northern-most ice-free port and for that reason became the southern terminus for the Alaska pipeline.
Old photos of Valdez show Valdez Glacier directly behind the town. This is because until 1964 Valdez was located about four miles east of its present location, closer to the glacier. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake, the most destructive earthquake ever to hit south central Alaska, virtually destroyed Valdez. The quake measured between 8.4 and 8.6 on the Richter scale (since revised to 9.2) and was centered in Prince William Sound. A series of local waves caused by massive underwater landslides swept over Valdez wharf and engulfed the downtown area. Afterward, it was decided that Valdez would be rebuilt at a new town site. By late August 1964, reconstruction projects had been approved for Valdez and relocation was under way. The last residents remaining at "old" Valdez moved to the new town in 1968.
National attention was focused on Valdez and the Alaska pipeline when the oil tank Exxon Valdez ran aground in March 1989, causing an 11-million gallon oil spill on Bligh Reef. Valdez itself and the broad bay to it's front were untouched by the spill.
We were the last to leave the RV park this morning. I had to reload the SUV onto the trailer and then get the coach ready to travel. I had planned to wash the coach, trailer and SUV this morning, but decided to wait until we got to Valdez.
It was a 265 mile drive south on highway 1 to Glennallen, then along highway 4 to Valdez. Along the way, we drove a loop road through the "copper canyon," where copper had been discovered and mined by the natives and made into many hunting/cooking objects. A number of our group stopped for lunch at the historic roadhouse there.
We didn't stop there but drove on to view a glacier that you can hike up to. I had wanted to touch it, but I couldn't find a way across the melt stream without getting wet. So I had to be satisfied with photos of it up close.
Next stop along the way was at "bridal veil and horsetail" falls. These were falling adjacent to the highway and were about 500 ft high. Farther down the road, we started our decent into Valdez. It was another 9% grade taken in low gear with the engine brake in full operation. It was uneventful, even though I had no trailer brakes. I will check into that in Valdez.
Our RV park is at the small boat marina and is full service. It is convenient to stores, restaurants, fuel, etc.
There was no group activity planned, so I decided to wash the vehicles. I got the SUV and trailer done. The nearby cottonwood trees were in full shed mode and made the wash task almost impossible. I traded dirt for cotton wads on all the horizontal surfaces. I decided to do the coach on Wednesday (Tuesday was our glaciers cruise).
At this point, we went down the street to have dinner at a restaurant. I ended up bringing half of it home.
We spent the rest of the evening watching CNN and transferring the day's photos from the camera to the computer.