The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site, managed by Long Rifle Lodge, is located one mile south of the Lodge at Mile 101 on the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway. The recreation site has 12 campsites on a gravel loop road, water pump, toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables. The Edge Nature Trail begins at the rest area and provides a 20-minute walk through the forest to glacier viewing platforms. Summer activities include hiking, glacier trekking and river rafting. Winter activities include skiing, snowshoeing and snow machining. Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is adjacent to the Glenn Highway Scenic Byway at milepost 101. Easy accessibility off the highway provides excellent views of the Matanuska Glacier which creates the headwaters of the Matanuska River. The 300 acre recreation site provides glacier viewing beginning at the parking lot and extends along the interpretive nature trail. Although no access is provided to the glacier from the recreation site it provides some of the safest and best public viewing opportunities within the area. The site is open until closed by winter snow and ice conditions.
We had no experience ice hiking or climbing, so we hiked the Matanuska Glacier with Nova Glacier Guides - they supplied crampons, ice axes, mountaineering boots and an awesome guide. Although the glacier is public park land, access to the face is through private property. They charge a fee, but also provide a nicely maintained road down to the access area and a floating boardwalk across the thick mud. It only takes a short while to get accustomed to walking on crampons and soon you feel as sure footed as on any trail, maybe more so. There's no wildlife on the glacier, but just seeing the ponds and rivers on the surface of the glacier, the fissures, it's pretty incredible and not to be missed if you have a chance. Just 2 or 2.5 hrs east of Anchorage. If I were to do it again, I'd pay more to take as long a hike as Nova would be willing to do, awesome experience.