Black Rapids Glacier

 
 

Very few people venture to Black Rapids Glacier and most people outside of Interior Alaska have never heard of it, but since I started photographing the glacier in 2015 I have been asked how to get there more than any other place I visit in the Alaska Range. Once the Delta River freezes over (typically by early January) it is a relatively simple 4-5 mile walk along the windswept ice of “Black Rapids River” to the glacier’s terminus. Care must be taken to avoid thin ice, slush, and open water in a few places. A large lake in front of the glacier freezes over in winter, trapping several big and small oddly shaped chunks of ice in place that you weave around along the way. The glacier changes significantly during every summer melting season, and there are always several new and interesting features to explore each winter in the moraine—giant ice walls, cracks, caves, holes, and other strange features are everywhere. In March there is enough daylight to reach the bend in the glacier valley where the scale of the glacier and the towering mountains it cuts through becomes almost incomprehensible. Mid-February to mid-March is the best time to visit the glacier, but if you start early and don’t mind relying on a headlamp there is enough daylight to visit the glacier in January. The sun begins to melt the glacier ice in the afternoon starting in late February, and by the end of March the route can get slushy on the hike back to the highway. (No ice climbing gear required.)

Route Length (full-day only): 5-8 miles (one-way), 500 feet elevation gain