A little about Palmer, Alaska
Location: Mile 40 on the Glenn Highway 1, approximately 42 miles northeast of Anchorage.
Area Population: 15,000.
Visitor Information: Palmer Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 45, Palmer, Alaska 99645; Phone: (907) 745-2880; Fax (907) 746-4164. Additional information: Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 350 E. Dahlia Avenue, Palmer, Alaska 99645; Phone: (907) 745-4801.
Palmer is ideally situated in the picturesque Matanuska-Susitna Valley on Upper Cook Inlet, an area known for its rich, fertile farms. Sheltered by craggy, snow-capped mountains and warmed by Gulf of Alaska breezes, the valley offers a pleasant climate. A modern community with a sense of the past, Palmer is the principal trade center for the surrounding area, providing a variety of services to the countless visitors who come to enjoy the city’s spectacular scenic beauty and unlimited recreational opportunities. Enjoy a sense of American history in one of the Last Frontier’s unique small towns, where you can stroll leisurely along the self-guided walk through the park.
Views of wildlife including moose, bear, wolves, lynx, eagles and a variety of waterfowl are unlimited. Many rivers and lakes, as well as the Knik and Turnagain arms of Cook Inlet, provide excellent fishing. Several of the lake resorts offer swimming, water skiing, boat rentals and fly-in fishing. Ice fishing, ice skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are favorite winter sports. Other activities include touring a ghost town and hang gliding.
Palmer-based Mustang Air offers exciting flightseeing tours of breath-taking scenery, glaciers and wildlife, as well as flight training and aircraft rentals for novice and experienced pilots. In the sky since 1985, Gary Baker has owned and operated Mustang Air at the municipal airport since 1998. Call (907) 745-7513 to book a flight.
Tourist attractions in Palmer include the Palmer Visitor and Information Center, Museum, Gift Shop and Showcase Garden, with rustic log cabin houses and interesting historical displays of the original colony and artifacts of early settlers. Open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM.
Take in the wonderful vistas along the Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive, where wildflowers and wildlife can be observed. Located just off the Glenn Highway, the Independence Mine is a popular stop for sightseers. This Historical Park is the site of a 200-worker camp and gold mining operation that dates back to the turn of the century.
The Palmer Tsunami Observatory is headquarters of the Alaska Regional Tsunami Warning System, providing seismic and tidal information. The Eklutna Hydro project, 13 miles southeast of Palmer offers tours arranged by advance reservations. Visit the Church of a Thousand Logs, which was constructed by colonists in 1936-37. Visitors are invited to tour the building.
For a unique treat, stop by the Musk Ox Farm just outside Palmer at Mile 50.1 Glenn Highway off Archie Road, where visitors can view and photograph the only commercial domestic musk ox herd in the world. Guided tours are conducted every half hour and the grounds offer a picnic area and museum. The gift shop carries luxurious musk ox “qiviut” garments. Open daily from Mother’s Day to September 30th from 10 AM to 6 PM, with extended hours in June and July from 9 AM to 7 PM.
The Reindeer Farm is another fun place to stop in Palmer, located off Mile 11.5 on the Old Glenn Highway. It is one of the original Colony Farms, nestled at the foot of Bodenburg Butte with a view of the Chugach Mountains, including the fantastic 6,385 foot Pioneer Peak. At the park you can walk among reindeer and hand-feed them, take pictures and learn about these wonderful “Cattle of the North.” You may also catch a view of young moose, deer and elk being rehabilitated at the park. Open daily May – September 10 AM to 6 PM. Admission fee.
Colony Days: June - Celebration commemorating the early colonists. Festivities include a parade, trade fair, nurseryman’s market, shopping cart races, 5K and 10K runs, horse-drawn wagon rides and street dance.
Alaska State Fair: 11 days of festivities commencing the fourth Friday of August and lasting through Labor Day.
Palmer Points of Interest
Friday Flings and Palmer Chamber - www.palmerchamber.org
Musk Ox Farm - www.muskoxfarm.org
Palmer Historical Society - www.palmerhistoricalsociety.org
Alaska State Fair - www.alaskastatefair.org
Knik Glacier - www.alaskavisit.com/knik-glacier
Colony Christmas - www.facebook.com/ColonyChristmas