Archangel Valley Photo Adventure
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Whether you’re visiting Alaska or a local, this is an epic little adventure for those looking for a dramatic landscape without having to travel a great distance! Archangel Valley is an in your face mountainous location tucked in the Talkeetna Mountain Range. The area features jagged peaks, crystal clear streams, and accessible by a road.
Ready? Let’s do this!
Photo Adventure Details!
The Drive: Archangel Valley is about an 1.5 hours north of Anchorage each way.
Human gear: You’re in the Talkeetna Mountains, too beautiful not to explore! Hiking shoes at a minimum. You’re at about 2,900 feet, temps and weather in the mountains can flip pretty quick, be prepared for rain, wind or shine… Sometimes all at once. Bring enough snacks to last you up several hours, time escapes you up there and a few hours could easily become 5-hours. There’s spots to camp, that’s always an option as well and highly recommended.
Camera Bag: Make sure your camera bag is solid to wear as a backpack, you’ll want to do some exploring up there for sure. Make sure you’ve packed at the very least a wide-angle lens, long lenses welcome. Tripod a must, you’ll want to probably do some stitch panos… The landscape totally calls for it! Pack some filters, light can bounce. If all you have is a point and shoot, it will all work the same!
Archangel Road Conditions & Options: Archangel Rd., is a dirt road that varies in conditions year to year. As of summer 2015, the road has been nicely graded making it pretty smooth going. If there are a lot of potholes, they’re generally minor and the next parking area is only 2.3 miles ahead.
Just before and after the bridge are designated parking areas for those hiking to Reed Lakes. You can opt to park here and hike your way up Archangel Rd. roughly another 1.5 miles. This is not a bad option, especially if you’re in a rental car! The hike up is nice, beaver ponds of the left side of the road on the way up.
If yore feeling confident in your off road skills, by all means drive and navigate your way up. Be prepared to dodge hundreds of large potholes and exposed large rocks! Turning around may be tough and you’ll average no more than 5 mph to your final destination.
I’ve driven this road for several decades, and as of this post my 2012 Subaru Outback does just fine. Make sure to have a spare tire, charged cell phone to call for help. When it comes to towing services you’re generally on your own. Although I’ve witnessed one Wasilla towing service way up there for a broken axel (for kids in an old truck). Use your best judgement!
Areas to explore:
- Hike down to Archangel Creek, which navigates around small to larger than life boulders. A little further northwest the creek offers a nice calm section for some nice reflection shots.
- From the road, hike up to the northeast across some easy terrain for a nice gain of elevation offering bigger views.
- Sunrise and Sunset from the road offer some excellent light. Given the higher elevation if the weather doesn’t look right wait a few, it will likely change.
- Everything else is pretty self explanatory, have fun and don’t forget to share your shot!