Liberty Falls in August 2014
I’ve visited Alaska three times, and the second time I visited I drove from Anchorage to Valdez. It’s an approximately 5 hour drive, and there is definitely beautiful scenery along the way. Along the way there, I stayed in Copper Center. Just over 45 minutes away from Copper Center is Liberty Falls State Recreation Area, which isn’t too bad of a drive, and provides beautiful views of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
I was doing some research to find out the height of the falls, and I couldn’t exactly remember how far of a hike it was to see the falls. I didn’t really remember a hike at all, but some searches were showing longer-than-expected hikes. What I discovered it that there are hiking opportunities in the recreation area, but I confirmed my recollection that to see the falls, there isn’t any hike required. You can get out of your car and essentially see the falls. So, while it is an out-of-the-way drive, once you arrive, it is not difficult to view the falls.
- From AK-1, you’ll want to head south on AK-4 N (which doesn’t indicate the direction in this case, from my understanding).
- After driving south on AK-4 N, you’ll come to AK-10. You’ll want to turn left on AK-10 and drive just under 24 miles to the recreation area.
- You’re looking for the parking area that leads to direct views to the falls, unless you’re interested in doing a hike.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside
Where in the World is Liberty Falls?
Keystone Canyon Falls in August 2014
Keystone Canyon is one of those places that is hard to describe. On the way in to Valdez, I had been driving for about an hour and a half. (It’s about 5 hours from Anchorage via road.) Even if I had been driving for longer, I think I would still have had my breath taken away as I entered Keystone Canyon. It was drizzling a bit, giving the canyon a special atmosphere. The road winds through the canyon, at times crossing over the Lowe River. Cliffs climb above you on both sides of the road.
And then the waterfalls start appearing. Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls are the two named waterfalls. As I’m driving along, though, I see another waterfall. I don’t know if this one has a designated name, and I wasn’t sure what the name of the creek was, therefore it’s Keystone Canyon Falls to me.
The mountains above the gorge climb about 5500′ feet in the matter of about 4 miles. So while you’re probably seeing about 100′ of waterfall in this picture, there’s likely more waterfall hidden above.
I often mention whether you should go out of your way to see a waterfall…In this case, it’s taken to extremes. I was headed to Valdez to go on a day-long glacier/wildlife cruise. As I mentioned, the drive from Anchorage to Valdez is about five hours, and there are long stretches of beautiful nothingness. You could fly, but then you’ll miss these waterfalls. On the way, you’ll get some great views of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and a “short” detour from the road to Valdez will lead to Liberty Falls. In addition to Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls, there’s also Crooked Creek Falls in Valdez. With all of the additional beautiful, it’s a good reason to drive, but you’ve got to set time aside just for this.
- There isn’t any other way to enter Valdez via road than on Alaska Route 4. From Anchorage, you’d follow AK-1 for a really long time to the junction of AK-4.
- Turn right and head south on AK-4, and then after an hour or so, you’ll enter Keystone Canyon. It’s clearly signed. It’s hard to miss the different waterfalls.
Length of Hike: roadside
Height: ~100′ (could be more or less, not the greatest judge of height)
Where in the World is Keystone Canyon Falls?