Also known as the “Mat-Su” or “The Valley” by Alaskans
The Matanuska-Susitna Valley is an area in southcentral Alaska south of the Alaska Range about 25 air miles north northeast of Anchorage known for producing huge vegetables during a 100-day growing season. The Valley is known for towering mountains, huge glacier valleys, fish-filled rivers and lakes, abundant Alaska wildlife, glorious hiking country, scenic camping and quaint frontier communities. The Mat-Su includes the valleys of the Matanuska, the Knik to the southeast, and the Susitna river to the west. The Matanuska Valley is now one of the most densely settled areas in Alaska and includes the towns of Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake, Houston, Willow and Talkeetna. The Matanuska-Susitna valleys are rimmed by three major mountain ranges: the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna Mountains and the Chugach Mountains. The surrounding mountains include many mountain passes, as well as working and abandoned gold mines. Like many parts of Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley was carved by glaciers which left many small and large lakes. Both the Matanuska and Susitna Rivers have major salmon spawning streams.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough (the Alaskan equivalent of a county, encompassing more than 24,000 square miles) governs the Mat-Su region and the sparsely-populated southwest portion of the Copper River Basin northeast of the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains. Borough officials estimate rapid growth since 2000 drove the population to 80,000 in 2007. A few hundred Alaska Natives were joined by small numbers of “Alaska sourdoughs” between 1900 and 1930 when hundreds of “colonists” relocated by the Federal Government in the early 30’s colonized the eastern Matanuska Valley between Wasilla, Palmer, and the Butte. The colonists came as part of the Matanuska Colony “New Deal” agricultural experiment sponsored by the federal government. In the 1970’s relatively large numbers of newcomers to Alaska came to Anchorage, then relocated 40 miles up the Glenn Highway to the largely rural Matanuska Valley where a “Alaskan country” lifestyle pervades. (From Wikipedia)
Here’s the Mat-Su Valley tourism website for more information.
Order a free Matanuska-Susitna Valley visitor’s guide here.
Matanuska-Susitna Valley Things To Do
- Flightsee over glaciers, lakes, Mount McKinley or the Iditarod Trail
- Trek across Matanuska Glacier or take an ATV tour to Knik Glacier
- Visit farmlands in historic Palmer and pick your own giant veggies
- Raft or kayak 500 river miles deemed “Exceptional Recreation Rivers”
- Take a hike! There are more than 2,000 miles of trails to choose from!
- Explore Hatcher Pass and the historic Independence Mine State Park
The Matanuska-Susitna Valley is located 25 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway.
Three major Alaska highways traverse the Mat-Su, the Glenn Highway, Parks Highway and Denali Highway.
From Anchorage drive north via the Glenn Highway. The Parks Highway splits off at mile 35 for Wasilla, Knik, Houston, Willow, Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, Denali National Park and Denali State Park. Continue on the Glenn Highway to reach Palmer, Sutton, Chickaloon, Eureka and Lake Louise.
7 hotels/motels, 8 bed and breakfasts, 2 lodges, 2 cabins, 5 campgrounds, all services.