Insanely great Valdez, Alaska, snowmobiling photos

Here’s a glimpse of what the awesome snowmobiling terrain around Valdez, Alaska, looks like

by Kirsten Armleder

View of Valdez Bay and the mountains around Valdez.
Depending on where they live, some snowmobilers in Valdez can ride right from their home and be at the top of Hogsback Mountain in 20 minutes. Scott Benda photo

If snowmobiling in Alaska is on your bucket list, then you’ll probably want to know more about Valdez. Why? Well, for starters, it is ranked as the snowiest city in North America, with an average of 827 centimetres (325 inches) per year. And that’s at sea level. Between 1,524 and 2,286 centimetres (600 to 900 inches) has been measured on nearby Thompson Pass.

Valdez is also flanked by the Chugach Mountains, a coastal mountain range that contains the greatest concentration of glacial ice in Alaska, and more snowmobiling terrain that one could possibly imagine.

Around Valdez, it’s all about the big mountain riding experience and the basic rule of thumb is if you can get in, then go for it. Access to the backcountry is not always easy, though, since the mountains around Valdez are dominated by huge, jagged edge peaks, glacier-fed rivers and deep crevasses.

With a population of about 4,000, Valdez is a small, friendly community that embraces winter. Multi-use trails in and around the city permit snowmobilers to access the backcountry right from their homes.

Hogsback Mountain, Solomon Gulch (Area 51) and Thompson Pass are all popular snowmobiling areas around Valdez. Thompson Pass is known around the world—thanks to an annual snow sports festival called Tailgate Alaska. It is also where the Valdez Snowmachine Club holds its annual Mountain Man Hill Climb, an event that attracts sledders from Alaska, Canada and even Sweden (think Kalle “KJ” Johansson).

Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for what awaits in Valdez, here are some amazing photos of the terrain around our continent’s snow capital: 

Two snowmobilers sitting on top of a ridge in Valdez, Alaska.
With so much terrain to go around, the snowmobiling opportunities around Valdez are virtually limitless. Scott Benda photo
A snowmobiler's view of the Valdez terrain.
Robe Lake is an area where visitors can take guided snowmobile tours from the Robe Lake Lodge, or do some exploring in the hills above the lake on their own. Scott Benda photo
View of Bay of Valdez from Solomon Gulch.
Solomon Gulch is a popular snowmobiling area that is located north of the city, across the Bay of Valdez. From here, sledders can enjoy views such as this one, which was taken from the bench above Solomon Lake. Scott Benda photo
A kid riding a youth-sized snowmobile in Valdez.
Groomed trails and gentler terrain can be found in the lower elevation around the city. Scott Benda photo

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