Freeze Up: The Transition from Summer to Winter on the Matanuska Glacier

One of the most common questions asked of our guides is whether they prefer summer or winter on the glacier. The answer is not so simple; it’s like comparing night and day. While there are some who have a preference, the truth is there is no comparison. Instead of having glacier summer and glacier winter […]

hike matanuska glacier during covid-19

A Place to Feel Normal Again

Touring The Matanuska Glacier During Covid-19 For those of us who live and work out by the Matanuska Glacier, life doesn’t seem too much different since COVID-19 sent us all into lockdown. We already live sixty miles from Palmer (the nearest town with a grocery store), and on any given day we may only see […]

tour matanuska glacier near palmer

Glaciers Matter!

Life has become like a bad episode of The Twilight Zone. COVID-19 has turned the world on its head, leaving us all wondering “will things ever return to normal?” It’s easy to lose sight of simple pleasures (like nature) when you’re stuck inside, day in, day out, watching bad television, and eating boxes of mac […]

Self-Isolate in Isolation

At this point in Corona-Quarantine, people seem to need the outdoors more than ever. We are following the Alaska Governor’s Mandates by remaining six feet away from all our guests, even when in the gift shop. No more than one party at a time may enter the gift shop to complete paperwork and payment, and […]


Alaska Glacier Tours Pressure Ridges

Take an Alaska glacier tour and find our first hand what causes pressure ridges to form on a glacier. During a recent Alaska glacier tour an experienced guide led several groups on a tour of pressure ridges that formed on top of the frozen Matanuska River. What is a glacier pressure ridge? A pressure ridge […]


Wildlife on the Matanuska Glacier?

One question we get asked here consistently is if we have wildlife on the glacier. Since the only plant life on the glacier is the glacier moss, there isn’t any sort of food source that would sustain animals such as moose and bear. Therefore, you wouldn’t see anything of the sort on the ice unless […]

Things to do near Anchorage AK Matanuska Glacier Adventure Guided Tours

Things to do near Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska. It boosts five-star dining and hospitality while at the same time it is surrounded by wildlife, breathtaking views, and adventure. Here are are a few of our favorite things to do near Anchorage, Alaska. If you like an adventure than this list is for you. Alaska Wildlife Conservation […]

Glacier Mice

Learn about the glaciology of the Matanuska Glacier

Scampering balls of moss.

Due to harsh conditions, cold climate, and lack of soil on the glacier’s surface, it is quite impossible for anything – even bacteria – to effectively survive and thrive. The Matanuska glacier sits between the Chugach and the Talkeetna mountain ranges, and because glaciers are ever-moving forms, it is constantly grinding away at the bedrock it sits upon as well as the base of either range. When this occurs, sediment and plant debris get drawn into many circulating subterranean channels that travel chaotically below and above the glacier’s surface. Much of this sediment and debris get circulated and deposited throughout the glacier, often on its surface. A large portion of this plant material consists of Bryophyta, which classifies most mosses. Mosses stem from primordial plants that are extremely resilient and hearty, exemplified through their ability to thrive after prolonged periods of cryptobiosis. Cryptobiosis is the process of metabolic activity in an organism slowing to the point of almost being undetectable, which particularly occurs in freezing. Moss, particularly acrocarpous moss, is highly adaptable and can reproduce asexually, so when fragments that have been frozen for extended periods of time are exposed to sunlight they can spontaneously begin to photosynthesize again.

When this occurs, these fragments adhere to small particulates of sediment and grow around its surface entirely. Because glaciers are always moving, these new forms begin to rotate and flip, exposing all sides to sunlight and promoting growth to continue in a layered process like that of an onion. These globular forms can grow to the size of basketballs, and maintain an internal temperature of 5 degrees above the surface of the ice they sit upon, even in the winter. Because of this incubatory factor, tiny microorganisms and invertebrates can survive within – typically about 70 per quarter-sized moss ball.

In the early 1950s, these globular forms of moss were given their playful name by Swedish plant biologists studying Falljokul glacier in Iceland, who came across a large dispersal of these cute rounded clumps, and coined them “Glacier Mice”. Here on Matanuska Glacier, you can see these throughout your trek on guided and unguided trails, particularly in the summertime when they are soaking up the sun and glowing that fabulous fluorescent green against the ice!

Summertime on the glacier!

Summertime tours are now available which means trekking across glacier terrain, drinking glacier water, and sunshine. We are open seven days a week!   Due to summer conditions, ice caves are no longer available for exploring. However, ice cave tour season will be back before you know it! Give us a call for more information […]

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Springtime on the Glacier

Happy Spring! Here in the Matanuska Valley, we are experiencing rising temperatures and bluebird days. That means we are transitioning from the winter season to the summer season. Here are some of our recent pictures for you to enjoy. We hope you come and enjoy the glacier before the winter conditions are gone! We are […]