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Byway To Heaven

The Glenn Highway travels over the mountains between Glennallen and Anchorage.

Along the way it takes in some of the most spectacular vistas you’ll ever see, including the Matanuska, Tazlina and Nelchina Glaciers, the Matanuska River, and high, unnamed mountains.

Glenn Highway is a National Scenic Byway

The Glenn Highway between Anchorage and Eureka was recently named a “National Scenic Byway.” It runs along the Matanuska River Valley, and is surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and broad vistas.

There are hawks, eagles and falcons here, and many pulloffs and lookouts.

Alaskans have enjoyed this highway for years, mainly because of its ever-changing scenery, and the way light and shadows play on the mountains and lowlands.

Three Glenn Highway Communities

1. Palmer

The Glenn Highway leads through the community of Palmer. Palmer was started in the thirties as a farming project during the Great Depression. It still has a 1950’s feeling to it.

2. Hatcher Pass

A gold mining camp, Hatcher Pass is high in the mountains behind Palmer. Lots of interpretive signs, renovated buildings and walkways.

3. Sutton

A railroad once ran here to carry coal from Chickaloon to Anchorage. Local folks have the pleasant Alpine Historical Park at Mile 61, with buildings, photos and interpretive material.

Don't Push this Drive

The 200-mile trip from Anchorage to the Copper Valley is a beautiful one. Travelers coming out of Anchorage stop and view the scenery. But those going toward Anchorage are frequently pressed for time.

If you’re taking the Glenn Highway to Anchorage at the end of your trip, plan to spend a full driving day – or an overnight – on the Glenn Highway.

The Matanuska Glacier

At the headwaters of the Matanuska River is the Matanuska Glacier, which is easy to photograph from just off the highway.

This is one of the most dramatic glaciers you can see in Alaska on the road system. The glacier is 4 miles wide at its terminus and extends for many miles back into the Chugach Mountains.

You can get an overall view of the Matanuska Glacier from the state campground, and a closeup view at the Matanuska Glacier Park.

(Photo, Trans-Arctic Circle Treks)

Stop For A Moment At Long Lake

This narrow, tranquil lake on the Glenn Highway is accessed by a pullout at a state recreation site. It’s on the lake side at the bottom of the hill at Mile 85.3.

This is a good place to fish or to put in a canoe.

Pull Over & Take A Look

Fossil hunters find fossils in the Talkeetna Mountains all the way from Moose Creek near Sutton, to Slide Mountain at Nelchina on the north side of the Glenn Highway.

Between Sheep Mountain and Caribou Creek you can see wild sheep grazing to the north. They are attracted to the mineral licks on the mountainsides. Watch closely, and you’ll see them move in small groups.

A Dinosaur Find at Eureka

Ten years ago, while on a routine trip to find fossils in the Copper Valley on the Glenn Highway, Alaskan Kevin May and his family stumbled across a major dinosaur find.

They found a duckbilled dinosaur – a hadrosaur – in a gravel pit near Eureka Summit. The vegetarian creature was about 15 feet long and stood 6 feet tall. It had webbed feet, and is usually found along shorelines.

In the Alaskan tradition, May, who was in his 30’s at the time, and a part-time undergraduate student at the University of Alaska, moved to the site in a tent with his two small children, and started carefully excavating the beast. A story in the local paper in 1995 chronicled his efforts.

Already in college too long to still get financial aid, May followed his passions the old-fashioned way. He was funded by himself, $1,000 from his mother, and $5,000 from the dinosaur society.

Geo Facts

As you drive down the Glenn Highway you can see the Klutina, Tazlina and Nelchina glaciers to the south in the Chugach Range.

These glaciers, coupled with Susitna, MacLaren, Gulkana and Gakona glaciers, to the north, flowed into the Copper Valley at the height of the last ice age. They made a mile-thick ice field, which then melted, making a huge lake (Lake Ahtna) in the middle.

This lake eventually drained when the Copper, Susitna and Delta Rivers were formed.

Lake Louise Road is built on an old esker.

+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat
From Palmer to Glennallen

glenn highway raptor overlook


Turner's Corner Hatcher Pass

Matanuska Glacier Park
Musk Ox Farm
49th State Motor Tours

Sheep Mountain Lodge

Copper Valley Telecom

DOT Alaska Navigator
Copper Valley Chamber Information Center

+ Map of Glenn Highway (Anchorage to Glennallen)
+ Map of Copper River Country
+ Fishing Map of Copper River Country

+ Map of Bearfoot Campgrounds

On the Glenn Highway, Don't Miss...
• Palmer Visitor Center (downtown Palmer)
Hatcher Pass (Mile 49.5)
• Views of Matanuska River (Palmer to King Mountain)
• Musk Ox Farm (Mile 50)
• Sutton Alpine Historical Park (Mile 61)
• King Mtn. Campground (Mile 76)
• Long Lake (Mile 85.4)
• Matanuska Glacier (Mile 101)
• Sheep Mountain (Mile 113)
• Eureka Summit Pullouts (Miles 118-130)
• Little Nelchina Rest Area (Mile 137.5)
• Mendeltna Creek (Mile 153)
• Turnoff to Lake Louise (Mile 160)
• Tolsona Lake (Mile 170)
• Views of Wrangell Mts (Mile 177)
• Copper Valley Visitor Center (Mile 189)

A Word About Highway “Miles”
The highways in Alaska are constantly being rebuilt and straightened. So as the roads have changed, all mileposts have become approximate. Keep this in mind when you're trying to find a business or attraction at a certain mile marker.

THE GLENN HIGHWAY runs from Anchorage to Glennallen

At the start of World War II, there was no road from the United States to Alaska, or Anchorage. The Alcan Highway was punched in across Canada, and the Glenn Highway was built to connect the port of Anchorage to the Alcan.


Few movies about Alaska are actually filmed here. So when you see an “Alaskan” scene, you’re often viewing the huge trees of British Columbia or some other part of Canada.

Visitors are frequently surprised when they see black spruce for the first time. Gnarled and twisted, the exact opposite of the perfect Christmas tree, the black spruce is a tough little tree.

They grow in swampy permafrost soil, and are relatively old for their size. They have a symbiotic relationship with forest fires. Only after a wildfire do their cones open to drop seeds on the ground.

Upper Copper & Upper Susitna Fishing
Find out here more about fishing along the Glenn Highway.

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