The city of Valdez (pronounced “Val-deez”), population 4,200, is located at the end of a deep glacially carved fjord in the northeast corner of Prince William Sound (PWS). The snow and glacier-covered Chugach Mountains surrounding town reach from sea-level to upwards of 5,000 ft. The climate is moderate here as we are situated in the northern reaches of the temperate rainforest, yet Valdez receives an average snowfall of over 300inches making it the snowiest place in Alaska.
The town was first established in the late 1890′s when prospectors set up camp at the toe of the Valdez glacier before embarking on the “All American Route” in search of gold and copper. The town grew around the needs of the prospectors and continued to prosper with the creation of the Richardson Hwy in 1899 that connected Valdez with Fairbanks and interior Alaska.
After the initial dash of the gold-rush, a boom and bust tradition continued in Valdez with the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tidal-wave that forced the town to move from its original location, the building of the pipeline in the 1970′s, and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Today the pipeline continues to be a major employer in town as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, shipping/transportation, commercial and sport fishing, and tourism.
These days Valdez is a great place to be. Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of winter and summer activities to choose from like backcountry skiing, kayaking, snow machining, and fishing and hunting. Each June PWSCC hosts the ‘Last Frontier Theatre Conference’ which brings in playwrights and actors from across the globe and an active community theatre keeps the town entertained throughout the year. The Valdez Arts Council brings in big-name artists and performers over the winter months, plus we have a small movie theatre in the Civic Center that plays first-run movies on the weekends. The city maintains a great network of trails for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. There is a public pool at the Valdez High School that is free to use, and an indoor rock-climbing wall at the middle-school that is free of charge as well.
Valdez has plenty to offer with a great community-base and lots of involved citizens. It’s a small town, but with many of the amenities of a much larger community. Learn more about the Valdez area from our links on the right!