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: