hiking castner glacier in delta junction

castner glacier delta junction

Yes, I’ve been kind of absent here lately, but for good reason! We’re neck-deep in Alaska’s so-called “fool’s spring,” and we’re soaking up every single moment of it. The past couple weeks have been glorious, with days reaching well into the upper-30s and with most days averaging around 20F. It’s been incredible, and we’re taking advantage of it. So much so, in fact, that we made the drive this past weekend to spend the morning hiking Castner Glacier in the snow – something that was absolutely on my Fort Wainwright bucket list!

What to Know About Castner Glacier

For those unfamiliar, Castner Glacier is a natural gem located just beyond Delta Junction within the Alaska Range. About 2.5 hours from Fort Wainwright, it’s a solid day trip and, over the past few years, has become a veritable tourist attraction in its own right. Castner Glacier’s ice cave isn’t new. It’s been around from some time, and people remember visiting the isolated gem as far back as the 60’s.

Today, Castner Glacier is one of the few Alaskan glaciers that isn’t completely melting. In the past years, several large portions have collapsed, including a large portion at the front in the summer of 2022. It’s unique in its positioning, however, that the ice cave is shielded from much of the direct sun of summer, as the glacier runs east-to-west, so it’s largely preserved through the year…meaning it’s still around.

castner glacier delta junction

is castner glacier worth it

Hiking to Caster Ice Cave

After years of braving large crowds for some of South Korea’s most popular hikes, we learned that the early bird really does get the worm, so we decided to leave dark and early. We got on the road at about 7:15 and made it to the parking lot by about 10 AM after several stops. We layered our gear once we arrived, and then we were off!

We’d read the trip reports prior and, though we brought our snowshoes, we were confident that we wouldn’t need them, and we were right. The trail was well-packed and easy to traverse, though it’s worth noting that if you stepped off the trail, the powdery snow was nearly up to our hips. It’s not a long hike though, and with six kiddos ranging in age from 4 to 14, we made it there within about 40 minutes easily, walking single-file on the narrow path.

hiking castner glacier february

hiking castner glacier with kids

hiking castner glacier

castner glacier from fort wainwright

Castner Glacier Ice Cave Photos

Because we got there early, we had the entire ice cave to ourselves, and it was so neat to explore! It’s not large, and after walking through a white winter scene, it sort of just looms up out of nowhere to your left. With rime ice all over the ceiling, a veritable ice rink of a floor towards the back, and dark depths, it was really neat to explore.

The kids’ favorite part was sliding down the natural, dirt-covered ice slide and seeing how far they could slide across the ice. My favorite was just seeing how vast the Castner Glacier ice cave really is. Honestly, this is the first glacier I’ve ever stepped on, and it was so cool to experience with the kids. When we hiked back out, there were a lot more people hiking in. We clearly got there at the right time, and I’m so glad we left early and had the glacier all to ourselves.

castner glacier ice cave photos

caster glacier ice cave

castner glacier ice cave pretty

Tips for Castner Glacier in Delta Junction

Address: Milepost 217.3, Richardson Hwy, Delta Junction, AK 99737

Trail Length: AllTrails has this at 2.6 miles roundtrip, and it’s pretty flat throughout.

Parking: The address will take you to the parking lot, which is quite spacious and free. We got there early, and there were plenty of spots.

To Get to the Trail: To get to the trail, you will need to cross the highway from the parking lot. Walk down the highway about 1/8 mile, then cross over to the trail, which will be on your right just before the bridge.

Tips: There are no bathrooms, and there is no cell service in the area. We had our GPS going well before we lost service, so there was no issue.

Pets: Pets are allowed, though leashes are recommended, as many dogs join their owners.

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