Liberty Falls, Alaska

Liberty Falls Alaska (12)

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.

Directions:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Liberty Falls?

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Crooked Creek Falls, Alaska

Crooked Creek Falls Alaska (27)

The lower portion of Crooked Creek Falls in August 2014

Crooked Creek Falls in Valdez is one of those waterfalls that isn’t advertised very well. A search doesn’t bring up any quick mention of this waterfall in Valdez, and yet it’s really tall. I should mention, this could be a different creek for all I know, but it’ definitely in Valdez.

I noticed a small cascade as I was driving by the Crooked Creek Information Center for the Chugach National Forest as I was approaching Valdez. It appeared to be 15′ tall or so, though I could tell that some of the waterfall was hidden behind the trees. Then as I was exploring Valdez when I had some time, I noticed that there was a much taller waterfall off in the distance. It was very foggy the day that I visited, so this waterfall could only be viewed when the cloud layers had cleared, but there was definitely a large waterfall, and its location would coincide with Crooked Creek. Looking at a topographic map, it seems that this whole waterfall drops about 1200′, which is quite impressive. So if you’re headed to Valdez, look for the tall waterfall that you might not expect.

Directions:

  1. There aren’t many ways to enter into Valdez. You could fly or drive or take a boat, but even then, it’s limited. If driving, you pretty much enter the city via AK-4.
  2. Along AK-4, there’s an information center for Crooked Creek in the Chugach National Forest. It’s on your right if driving into Valdez. The smaller view of the waterfall is roadside near the information center.
  3. I viewed the bigger drop from Valdez itself, looking northeast.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~1200′
Length of Hike: roadside

Crooked Creek Falls Alaska (17)

The larger view of Crooked Creek Falls (or some creek dropping precipitously)

Where in the World is Crooked Creek Falls?

Anderson Falls, Alaska

Anderson Falls (31)

Anderson Falls in August 2014

I was searching through photos from travels in past Augusts, and was reminded of a number of waterfalls I saw on a visit to Alaska. I’m always a bit surprised at how difficult it can be to find information about waterfalls in Alaska. There are some waterfalls that are very commonly advertised, but there are other impressive falls that are less so.

If you search for Anderson Falls, you’ll find a few hits, but sparse information. And yet Anderson Fall is one of the tallest (easily visited?) waterfalls in the state. Based on the terrain, there are many more that are just too inaccessible to visit. And in terms of “easily visited”, it does require a boat ride. Luckily, there are a number of fjord and glacier cruise tours that leave from Valdez and will pass right by this waterfall.

From my guesstimate, it seems that the falls are at least 600′ tall, possibly more. There are two portions to the falls, the top plunge drop, followed by the lower cascades. The falls continue even more as they meet the shoreline. It’s a really impressive sight, and one that I wasn’t particularly expecting!

Directions:

  1. In this case, the most “difficult” part is getting to Valdez. I flew into Anchorage, and it was 5 hour drive to Valdez. (There are flights on prop jets into Valdez.)
  2. After arriving and seeing some of the other waterfalls in Valdez, I hopped on one of the boat cruises (Lu-Lu Belle or Stan Stephens, I don’t remember which), and took the cruise to see the falls, glaciers, and wildlife! It’s definitely worth it!

Accessibility: 10/10 (Easy)
Height: 600′ +
Length of Hike: Not applicable

Where in the World is Anderson Falls?

Keystone Canyon Falls, Alaska

keystone

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.

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Accessibility: 10/10
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?