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Down on the Farm

An Alaskan farming community, Palmer is known for its vegetable and hay farms and its Matanuska Dairy products.

It’s a nice, old fashioned town. Take time to stroll down Palmer’s sidewalks and savor the 1950’s all over again

Be sure to see the visitor center and garden and the Colony House Museum. You should also try to visit the Musk Ox Farm (shown above).

How Palmer, Alaska Got Its Start

During the Great Depression in 1935, 203 families were brought north from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan to make a new life.

Although a third of the would-be farmers were overwhelmed and left, many descendants of the original colony farmers are still living in Alaska.

Even before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s colony “experiment,” the region had already been identified as a good place to grow crops.

In 1915, a rail track was laid through the region to the Chickaloon coal fields. At that time there were over 300 homesteads in the Palmer area.

Palmer Colonists Picked From Five House Styles

When the Matanuska Colonists came to Palmer, they lived in a tent city.

Then they chose one of 5 basic house styles. The Colony House Museum in Palmer represents one of those styles – a small basic farmhouse.

Local people operate this little museum, which is full of 1930’s artifacts.

Above is a picture of the museum before it was restored.

Near Palmer are both a musk ox and a reindeer farm.

The Alaska State Fair

The first Alaska State Fair was held in 1936, a year after the Matanuska colonists arrived.

Even today, the giant cabbage exhibit is known nationwide. The first winning cabbage weighed in at 23 pounds – a record that has since been beaten. There are plenty of large vegetables to break records with. A huge pumpkin was entered into the fair in 2019, by Dale Mashall of Anchorage. His pumpkin weighed 2,051 pounds and broke the Alaska state record.

Massive coddling and closely guarded secret recipes make giants of cold-weather crops.Some look like mutants – such as this 707 lb. pumpkin. Family rivalries abound and giant veggies attract huge crowds.

+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

palmer alaska old farm


Musk Ox Farm
49th State Motor Tours
Palmer Visitor Center & Museum

Hatcher Pass Turner's Corner

The Noisy Goose Cafe (Colony Kitchen)

+ Map of Downtown Palmer, Alaska
+ Map of Butte & Palmer (old Glenn Hwy)
+ Map of Greater Palmer Area
+ Map of Mat-Su Valley and Mat-Su Borough

+ Map of Parks Highway Campgrounds
+ Map of Alaska Gold Rush Towns

In Palmer, Alaska, don't miss...
• Fresh Palmer Vegetables
• Palmer Visitor Center
• Friday Market
• State Fair
• Views of Pioneer Peak
• Best access to Hatcher Pass

About the Mat-Su Valley
Although these are two distinct river valleys, made by two rivers that don’t cross each other (the Matanuska and the Susitna), local people treat the two valleys as if they were one, calling them “The Valley.” You’ll also often hear this region referred to by its shortened nickname, “Mat-Su.” An Alaskan form of government similar to a county (but called a “borough” here) covers much of the Mat-Su area. There are two easy to get to visitor centers. One is in downtown Palmer. The other – the Mat-Su Visitor Center – is just north of the intersection of the Parks and Glenn Highways.

Click here for a map of the Mat-Su Valley.

Stop in Palmer, Alaska on Your Way to Denali National Park

Okay, Denali-goers. Palmer’s not technically on the Parks Highway. It's on the Glenn Highway.

But if you're heading to Denali National Park, Palmer's so close to the Parks Highway Junction that you should detour here and take in Palmer and Hatcher Pass on your way north.



Population: 62,426
Size: 22,683 square miles
Starts 35 miles north of Anchorage

1.“Mat” stands for “Matanuska.”
2.“Su” stands for “Susitna.”
3. Known as “The Valley” to Alaskans.
4. Fast-growing bedroom community.
5. Includes Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake, Houston, Willow, and Talkeetna.

Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau
Visitor information for the Mat-Su Valley, in which Palmer, Alaska is located. Includes a fishing report.

Palmer Chamber of Commerce
Thinking of visiting Palmer, Alaska? Then stop by this website, which contains detailed information about Palmer that represents "Alaska at its Best." Includes historical features, events calendar, and business directory.

Alaska State Fair
The annual Alaska State Fair is held in Palmer, and if you're in Alaska during August, you won't want to miss it! Read all about it at the official website.

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