A hiker stands on a glacier in alaska in front of a pool

Experience the Best Adventure on these Sensational Alaska Glacier Tours

There are a few things that rise to the top of my adventure list, and seeing and walking on a glacier in Alaska is right at the top. It’s a phenomenal experience, allowing you to access relatively untouched parts of the world and see ice frozen for thousands of years.

If you’ve ever thought about walking on a glacier in Alaska, you’re in the right place. With more glaciers than anywhere else in America, these Alaska glacier tours will offer you the chance to do something you’ve likely never done or seen before.

Inside, we will discuss the top Alaska glacier tours and some bonus ones you can fly into! Let’s get going, shall we?!

Helpful Guide to Experience Alaska Glacier Tours

Mantanuska Glacier

This is the closest glacier to Anchorage and is quite epic. You’ll get a full-day tour to explore the Mantanuska Glacier and see what life is like on the ice. This is one of the most accessible glacier walks in the United States.

That said, with proximity comes commotion. It will be crowded, and you’ll be more or less ushered in and out on a schedule. Still, it should be worth it to cross off an item on many people’s bucket lists.

two hikers walk on a glacier in alaska
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Root Glacier

This was my favorite Alaska glacier tour when we did our trip in 2021. Tucked into the eastern side of the state in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, our small group basically had the Root Glacier to ourselves.

Mendenhall Glacier

This one is right up there with the Mantanuska Glacier for being super accessible. The Mendenhall Glacier is minutes from Juneau and is the area’s most popular thing to do. There seem to be a ton of Alaska glacier tours here, so I wouldn’t be worried about making a last-minute decision.

(Though, if you know you’re going, book it early.)

Kenai Fjords National Park Glaciers

Kenai Fjords National Park is almost completely covered in ice, and 98% of it is untouched by human feet. The single part that is accessible is the Exit Glacier hike near Seward. That said, most people take an epic boat cruise throughout the fjords, getting to at least see the national park and its incredible features.

two tourists stand in front of the exit glacier in alaska
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Exit Glacier

In 2021, we hiked here in mid-May, and the trail to the top with expansive views was still too snowed in. This meant we did the Exit Glacier Overlook trail. It’s around 2 miles with decent elevation gain for the back half.

If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, head to the Harding Icefield. This nine-mile hike has 3,200 feet of elevation gain. Depending on whether you go down to the ice (which isn’t technically on the trail), plan to be on the trail for six to nine hours.

Boat Tours to See Glaciers

I can’t recommend this enough! We got lucky, had blue skies for our trip, and saw some amazing sights—bears, orcas, whales, birds, sea lions, and a puffin. If you go to Seward, you HAVE TO do this tour.

Knik Glacier

The Knik Glacier is tucked away southeast of Palmer and is predominately visited by helicopter. So, if you’re up for seeing something unbelievably epic and landing on a glacier, this trip is for you!

Glacier Bay National Park Glaciers

To get into Glacier Bay National Park, you must be on a cruise or a tour boat. There’s really no other way to do it unless you own a Yacht, and I doubt they’re my audience.

The most popular ones you’ll see are Margerie Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier, Clark Glacier, and Lamplugh Glacier. I’m sure more are visible, but I haven’t been to this area yet, and I’d just be listing names of people buried for decades.

If you want to see Glacier Bay National Park, I suggest booking a tour or finding your way to Gustavus. You’ll find companies who will take you in from there.

Unfortunately, I don’t think these Alaska glacier tours will let you physically walk on any in this area.

Byron Glacier

the byron glacier in alaska
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This is a free one!

When we headed to the Byron Glacier, it was cloudy and cold, so we didn’t exactly get a great display of nature. It’s a 2.5-mile hike, though I’m pretty sure we only went a mile. Whittier and Portage Lake are nearby, making it a nice place to stop if you have a campervan and you’re heading down into the Kenai Peninsula.

I recommend this later in the summer when you can see more of the views, and it’s not totally snow-covered.

Whittier Glacier

Get out onto beautiful Prince William Sound from Whittier, AK, and see the magic! This stunning area is less than 90 minutes from Anchorage. You will not be disappointed by this Alaska glacier tour.

Portage Glacier

At the back of Portage Lake is the Portage Glacier. From photos, this looks like a great excursion with fantastic views. Again, we were here in cruddy weather, and I don’t think they are running tours yet. So, if your trip to Alaska is after June 1, I’d assume the Alaska glacier tours will be available.

Columbia Glacier

Due to the length of your trip, visiting Valdez isn’t feasible for most visitors. But if you do happen to make it down, it is a gorgeous area. We had less-than-ideal weather, but it’s home to amazing skiing, wildlife, and glaciers.

the worthington glacier near valdez alaska
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

If you want a free option, you can see the following as you drive into town:

  • Worthington Glacier
  • Hogback Glacier
  • Tsina Glacier
  • Valdez Glacier
aerial views from one of the best alaska glacier tours
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Fly and Land on an Alaskan Glacier

These are much more expensive than hiking or boat tours, but you’ll be in the middle of something incredible. Plus, it’ll likely only be a small group, providing a memorable experience without crowds you’ll never forget.

I haven’t done a heli-landing, but I did land on a glacier in Denali National Park during a flightseeing trip from Talkeetna. That was pretty freaking epic! It was surreal to start above the jagged peaks and then circling down to where you’re now looking up at them.

a red airplane on a glacier near denali
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Here’s a list of unforgettable moments that are waiting for you!

Find The Top Alaska Glacier Tours for Your Trip

a couple smiles at the camera on an alaska glacier tour
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Should You See A Glacier When Visiting Alaska?

I know there are a lot of costs to make it to Alaska, and for many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see wildlife and amazing landscapes. So, I can’t blame you for opting out of an Alaska glacier tour. But, if your financial situation allows it, I strongly recommend you get out onto a glacier.

It’s an otherworldly experience, you’ll learn cool facts, and get to snag epic photos. And you’ll get to tell your friends back home that you walked on a glacier. Nothing cooler than that!

What to Wear for your Alaska Glacier Tour

Your weather will dictate what you wear. On my trip, it was overcast, and I had the following outfit.

  • Beanie and/or Hat
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Down Vest (though a normal down jacket is fine)
  • Hiking Pants
  • Wool Socks
  • Hiking day pack
a hiker smiles while on an alaska glacier tour
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

How cold can it get on a glacier?

The change is almost instantaneous and dramatic. You’ll go from walking on dirt to being entirely surrounded by ice. For our Root Glacier hike, we had to walk 1.5 miles before hitting the glacier. Because of this, we had warmed up.

Still, I could feel the temperature drop really quickly.

Should You Go Without A Guide?

The technical answer is you can do whatever you want. Unless it’s gated, glaciers are there for anyone. That said, you should 100% explore Alaska’s glaciers with a guide.

Proper Gear

First, they will provide you with the gear you need to walk on a glacier. While you could do it with microspikes, crampons offer better stability and traction, making your Alaska glacier tour safer.

Secondly, they carry the necessary safety gear if you slip and get hurt.

The vast landscape on one of our alaska glacier tours
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch


Glaciers are inherently dangerous places. If you venture into an unstable part, you could fall into a crevasse or, worse, a moulin, which is almost certainly the final act of your life. Furthermore, glaciers are incredibly deceiving. You’d think you could walk miles and miles on them and then realize that you’ve hardly gone anywhere.

Having a tour guide keeps things in perspective and keeps you safe.


Finally, I always loved learning more about the region’s history, glacier facts, and other random Alaska tidbits on these tours. Your guides have a wealth of knowledge and are there to educate you. (PS: They might even make you hot chocolate with glacier water. )

FAQ: Alaska Glacier Tours

When is the best time to take a glacier tour?

Most tours only run during summer, so June through September is your best bet. This is also the best time to visit Alaska in general when you have long days to explore and travel, warmer temperatures, and hopefully blue skies.

What was the hardest part about walking on a glacier?

Honestly, the crampons are a bit awkward initially, and you have to figure out the proper heel-toe formula not to trip or look drunk. Another tricky thing was to trust yourself.

The crampons have a phenomenal grip, but you have to trust that they will hold as you take a big step. Obviously, being more athletic and having better body control will help, but overall, don’t worry more than you have to.

How long are you on the physical glacier?

This depends on each tour, but for mine, we were there for 90 minutes to 2 hours. It seemed like a pretty good amount of time, and then we had about 40 minutes of hiking to and from.

my favorite of the alaska glacier tours was seeing the root glacier
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Final Thoughts on Exploring Alaska’s Glaciers

Alaska glacier tours offer visitors a unique opportunity to witness these natural wonders’ awe-inspiring beauty and power. Whether exploring by boat, hiking on foot, or flying overhead in a helicopter, each tour provides a different perspective and unforgettable experience.

With knowledgeable guides leading the way and opportunities for up-close encounters with calving glaciers and wildlife, these tours will leave a lasting impression on all who embark on this adventure. So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Alaska’s icy wilderness, add a glacier tour to your itinerary.

Until next time, adventurers, take care and be safe.

Follow on social media: TikTok || Instagram || Facebook || Newsletter

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside