Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Day 5 in Valdez

We arrived in Valdez after a spectacular drive to get there. (See previous post about the two major waterfalls in Keystone Canyon). We picked Bear Paw RV Park and were very happy we did. Forty dollars a night right in the heart of Valdez with the harbor right across the street. The staff was super friendly, the sites were reasonably spaced apart even though it's basically a parking lot, and they offer plenty of services. They have TWO parks in one...their second park is right near the first one, and it's for adults only. The second park was for much bigger rigs when we pulled in. The main park has crushed gravel, very level sites. They have private restrooms, a laundromat, a dump station, cable TV, Wi-fi and hot, unmetered showers. The adults only second park is their waterfront park on Prince William Sound, with larger and more wooded sites.

Stellar's Jay-courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Service
We loved Bear Paw. Saw a bald eagle who visits daily in a tree just outside the office. Saw a Stellar's Jay while we were there in the park as well. Beautiful navy and royal blue jay....

Plenty of things to see and do in Valdez (Val-deez) with some great places to eat as well. Valdez has FIVE glaciers in the area that you can see and visit. One of the things Sparky wanted to do was take a cruise around the Prince William Sound with Captain Fred of the LuluBelle. She had read reviews of the two main glacier/wildlife cruises before leaving home. One was called the Stan Stephens glacier/wildlife cruise, and the other one was called LuluBelle Tours . Either one is spectacular, but the LuluBelle is a smaller boat and we thought the experience would be better with not such a big crowd on board. Not only that, but the Stan Stephens appears to have to run on a much tighter schedule and not have quite the flexibility of staying in the area if wildlife is being spotted. Since we were there early in the season, we had no trouble booking our tickets the day before the cruise. And we chose the LuluBelle. It's a posh touring vessel. Oriental rugs inside the stateroom and in the captain's cabin, teak and mahogany woodwork throughout, it's gorgeous. 

Captain Fred has been running these tours for 39 years and he really knows where to go and how long to hang out. We saw EVERYTHING that the opening page of the website talks about. We were exceptionally lucky the day we went. Did we see wildlife? Is the pope Catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods? Oh, YEAH! 

Harbor seals? Check.
Bald eagles? Check.
Stellar sea lions? Check. One big fat mama. Check.
Go into a rocky cave in the boat (!) and bang your head on the rocks if you don't watch out? Check. He actually went part way into the tunnel and the rocks were right over your head! He kept saying, "Want to get closer?" Uh, ok....

Sea otters? Check. Up close and personal? Check.
Dall porpoise? Check. They look like mini orca whales. They swam and played under and around the bow of the boat. They were so fast! Sparky has a video of them on YouTube if you'd like to see them in action.

AND...tada...the whales...we saw several....AND Sparky caught the best shot of all, one on her bucket list...the tail end.

Captain Fred is terrific. He's a non-stop talker pretty much for the whole cruise, full of interesting facts and history. We learned a LOT about the wildlife and the area. We enjoyed his narrative very much. 
The Columbia Glacier was fantastic! We did not see much calving, however. Sometimes, there are huge chunks as big as houses cracking and falling off the front of the glacier, but not this time. It was still spectacular. You could hear booming and cracking, it just wasn't falling much today.....

The fresh air was too much for some, and people were in and out of the inside cabin, in and out. Eventually, some just had enough of the fresh cold air which was in the 30's by the time we got to the Columbia Glacier and sacked out on the way back. 

We had a marvelous time because we dressed really warmly, would be miserable if you don't wear appropriate clothing! Think dead of winter clothing and you'll be fine for whatever the weather brings.  We absolutely loved this tour. We would go back and do it again in a heartbeat. We'll tell you about where we ate while we were in Valdez next time.....See you soon!


  1. Great pictures! We took a tour boat there in 2011. It was also wonderful, I recognize lots of your pictures:))

  2. What a wonderful tour and excellent pictures thanks for taking us along for the ride.

  3. I just came back to look at this post so I'd remember where you were since I'd read it and I find my comment isn't here. Booo!
    And if course I have no idea what I said BUT I can say wow to all t he wildlife especially the sea otters and that whale tail. Great shots both. Love the one of you and Eldy. That's a framer!