For those that may be new to the area, you may have heard some locals talking about the “Mat-Su Valley.” It is a valley than reaches over 23,000 square miles of wilderness and includes towns such as: Big Lake, Chickaloon, Hatcher Pass, Matanuska Glacier, Palmer, Skwentna, Sutton, Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, Wasilla and Willow. 

Our state is full of beautiful landscapes and wildlife and the Mat-Su Valley alone has so much to explore! Here are some places to check out for some outdoor adventure right in your “backyard.”

Denali State Park – just east of Denali National Park, this Alaskan State Park calls for another beautiful experience. You and your hiking buddies will feel like the only people on Earth due to the vast wilderness and mesmerizing beauty surrounding you. There are so many places to get to with fantastic views and you most likely will see some wildlife! Visit the information center ahead of time to figure out what kind of blissful day you want to have here.

Lake Louise State Recreation Area – Alaskan’s favorite year-round playground! There are a variety of activities that you can participate in here – camping, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, bird watching, skiing, hunting and some Northern Lights viewing! If you are big on fishing, Lake Louise houses four different species – lake trout, whitefish, burbot and arctic grayling – and if you’re lucky, there are some 20 pounders to be caught. This rec area is all about enjoying what our beautiful state has to offer while conserving the natural environment!

Summit Lake State Recreation Area – a true gem in Alaska. Summit Lake is a small mountain lake known as a tarn, that goes as deep as 20 feet – remnant of a long-gone alpine glacier! Mountains surrounding are all glacially carved and there is a trail that goes around Summit Lake with views from the bluff viewpoint. From there you can see the Willow Creek Drainage, Susitna Valley and western arc of the Alaska Range. East of Summit Lake is April Bowl which is a small valley with another tarn lake that is very popular in the winter.

Nancy Lake State Recreation Area – one of the few flat and lake-studded recreation areas in Alaska! The clear water is loved for canoeing, fishing, hiking and camping. Located between the Susitna River and Talkeetna Mountains, this area is a great place to spend days off for a nice tranquil experience!

The Matanuska Glacier – it’s one thing to see a glacier from afar, but in the Mat-Su Valley you can actually get outside and touch one! This is one of Alaska’s most spectacular and oldest glaciers! You’ll be wowed at the size – 13,000 feet high and 27 miles long and 4 miles across! You can access this glacier through Glacier Park.