Castner Glacier

 
 

Castner Glacier is the simplest glacier to reach coming from Fairbanks, and for the past several years it’s been the easiest place to find an ice cave as well. It’s not your stereotypical blue glacier calving into a big lake or the ocean, but rather a gritty valley glacier covered in rock, mud, and—in the winter—snow. Hiking or snowshoeing to Castner Glacier is easy for most people, and if you have good directions you don’t really need a guide to get there, but most people without glacier travel experience are hesitant or unprepared to go any farther than the glacier’s terminus or explore very far inside the ice cave at the front, and some people have fallen through the ice of this cave into waist-deep water! For those interested in a full-day tour, it’s always fun to spend the rest of the day searching for curious glacial features and other ice caves in the moraine, though it can be tiring climbing up and down over all the hills. Snow cover may be thin from October through November, which might make this a hike, an icy hike, or a snowshoe, but usually by December there is enough snow that skis or snowshoes are preferred. (No ice climbing gear required.)

Route Length (half-day): 1+ mile (one-way), negligible elevation gain
Route Length (full-day): up to 3 miles (one-way), 500 feet elevation gain