4 Amazing Alaska Ice Caves: A Complete Guide

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Editorial credit: Zhukova Valentyna / Shutterstock.com

Spending some days in the lap of nature, enjoying the breathtaking views of Alaska ice caves, and basking in the raw and unbridled beauty of Mother Earth is a lifetime experience in itself.

Secluded from the hustle and bustle of day to day lives and living in the serendipity of nature can help you to relieve all your stress and enjoy the abundant bounties of our Mother Earth. The moment you will lay your eyes on the magnificent Alaska ice caves, its magic will completely bewitch you.

Do not believe us, then continue reading the article as we together explore the beauties of Alaska ice caves. We are pretty sure that by the end of the article, your heart will crave a travel vacation to these mesmerizing Alaska ice caves.

A Complete Guide on Alaska Ice Caves

A. What Are Ice Caves?

Before starting about the famous Alaska ice caves that you should travel to, we should first know what an ice cave is.

Ice caves are formed when melted water runs under or through a glacier melting the ice in-process and leaving behind caverns and passages between the glacier. Due to warmer temperatures and sunlight during the summer months, the ice at the glacier’s surface melts and drain downwards. The shafts are usually almost vertical, which allows the meltwater to descend to the bottom of the glacier.

man exploring an amazing glacial cave in iceland
By: J. Helgason/Shutterstock

We often tend to consider glacial ice caves and glacier caves to be the same. But some salient features differentiate them both. Ice caves need to be partially covered by ice, whereas, on the other hand, to be classified as a glacier cave, the same should be formed from a complete block of ice.

One quick, exciting fact about before we move on further- The astounding blue color of ice caves is due to sunlight’s reflection on ice caves’ walls.

B. Best Alaska Ice Caves to Visit

Ice caves are generally found beneath or beside a glacier. Alaska has the largest concentration of ice caves in America as compared to the Lower 48.

Alaska has numerous ice caves, but to make your work simpler, we present to you the four best Alaska ice caves that you should definitely visit.

1. Matanuska Glacier Cave

One of the most accessible Alaska ice caves is the Matanuska glacier caves. Its location makes it a popular tourist spot. It can be easily accessible from both Anchorage and Palmer. This stunning and massive glacier advances a foot daily, leading to a slow variation to its appearance every day.

man inside a melting glacier ice cave cut by water
By: DCrane/Shutterstock

Twenty-seven miles long and 4 miles wide, this glacier can also be viewed from the Glenn highway.  The river that flows out of the ice caves is the famous and wild Matanuska river. The Matanuska glacier park is also easily accessible from the ice caves. If you are going for a hike in the ice caves, do not forget to use the safety gears and make sure to follow all the guidelines of your guide.

2. Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves

There are only a few places on Earth that can rival one of the most beautiful Alaska ice caves. It is one of the most stunning masterpieces of nature.

The eerie, blue domes of the ice caves show resemblance to the underside of a rapid river w flash frozen. The location of Mendenhall ice caves is in Southeastern Alaska’s rainy Tongass national forest. It is situated 13 miles from downtown Juneau glacier.

Hiking in this ice cave is not an easy task. It is a six to eight hours hiking path that leads to the iconic cave. Do not forget to take the necessary hiking equipment, and taking the help of professional guides is highly recommended. If hiking to this gorgeous blue ice cave, do not forget to pay a visit to Mendenhall lake.

3. Spencer Glacier, Chugach National Forest

spencer glacier and icebergs of alaska in fall tourist destination
By: Photo Spirit/Shutterstock

This massive glacier is 60 miles from Anchorage. It is located in the south of the Turnagain Arm area of Kenai mountains, in the Chugach national forest. The glacier terminates in Spencer lake and is surrounded by the Alpine mountain vistas.

Did you know how this glacier got its name? The name of the glacier came after an employee who got disappeared while trekking on the ice. Therefore if going on this glacier trek, make sure to take proper precautions with you.

4. Root and Kennicott Glaciers

Root and Kennicott glaciers are placed adjacent to each other. The Root Glacier is located in America’s largest national park, the 13.2 million acres Wrangell St Elias.

The Kennicott Glacier, on the other hand, may not be impressive at first glance. From the above-ground, it is covered in dirt and ice. However, blue ice and white snow on the underneath can be easily hiked on.

While visiting these glaciers, you can also explore the tide pools present on the face of the glacier. Or you can also go deep down the surfaces and explore the deep ravines and moulins. One such popular visitor center is the Jumbo Creek ice cave, one of the best ice caves. Jumbo Creek ice cave allows you to stand beneath a beautiful blue dome of ice.

C. What to Keep in Mind While Visiting Alaska Ice Caves?

person is standing in beautiful ice cave in vatnajã kull glacier
By: Dominik Belica/Shutterstock

These stunning blue caves are made up of ice and therefore are constantly changing. Varying tectonic pressures can create a significant impact on the frosts. Cave-ins are a constant threat and for your times at the glacier, always be alert. For a hike to the caves, make sure to have the proper equipment with you.

Always be a part of guided ice cave tours, and if going solo, do not forget to take proper precautions and preventive measures along with you. If you want to watch the glaciers from afar, there are various glacier tours available for you. Alaska shore excursions that leave from the northeast of Anchorage help you visit 26 such impressive glaciers in Alaska.

Global warming has been providing a severe threat to the ice caves. Large chunks of ice are melting every year, which are creating casualties for the hikers and increasing the ocean levels, and increasing the risk of floods.

There you go, everything you need to know about the beautiful Alaska ice caves’ glacier travels. The best time to visit these places is from July to September. We advise you to tour these places with good traveling companies and if you are traveling alone make sure you have researched well about the places and climatic conditions.

These beautiful Alaska ice caves are a sight to behold. Please include them in your bucket list, and we are sure that these will definitely not disappoint you.

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