Today, I’m going to take you on a tour of Hatcher Pass. A popular sledding, snowboarding, skiing, and snow-machining attraction for Alaska residents, and a beautiful treasure to tourists alike – Hatcher Pass is one of the favorite wilderness getaways. The pass itself can be easily reached by by car, and is in driving distance of the Mat-Su valley (approximately Anchorage area). Hatcher Pass, specifically, is located in the southwestern region of the Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska. Its name was wrought from an Alaska gold miner and settler, Robert Lee Hatcher, who first began prospecting there in 1906; and the area still showcases a ghost town forged in the late 1800s / early 1900s. Yet history aside – Hatcher Pass is one of my personal favorites because of its accessibility.
Truth: a lot of us don’t necessarily have the time, money, experience, or even will power to face the wilderness head-on. During my time in Alaska, I encountered a lot of tourists who would inquire on “hidden treasures” – beautiful and easily reachable locations only seasoned Alaskans seem to know about. I mean, sure. There are plenty of gorgeous locations – practically a photographer’s haven – maintained by the state. But even these require some miles of walking; though trails impeccably kept – some people simply cannot hike into places. Hatcher Pass offers something more, however; the overall drop-dead beauty of this northern wonder can be reached simply by car! To give you a bit of the feel, I’ve photographed some of my favorite things about Hatcher Pass in the following pictures.
This photo was taken while driving up to Hatcher Pass. You can see the Mat-Su valley down below. Even in the dead of winter, this road is maintained for travel.
This photo was taken while driving as well. (Little secret: I never even stepped out of my car to capture this one!)
As stated earlier, Hatcher Pass holds a major sledding, snowboarding, skiing, and snow-machining attraction. If you look hard enough, you can see hundreds of tracks in the snow. But never fear! Plenty of these mountains offer gorgeous photography spectacles without the presence of humans. Speaking of humans: do you see those two tiny dots near the southwest / middle of the photograph? Yeah, those are people.
We’re here! This is the bottom of the most popular sledding and snowboarding hill, located at the end of the main road leading up to Hatcher Pass.
So there is clarity, the above photo shows parking available. You can see vehicles on the far right side of the picture, while also taking into account a few buildings from the gold mining ghost town and a summer wilderness lodge (shown on the middle left side of the photograph).
Hiking out! Here, a group of hikers are shown heading deeper into the pass. For those major adventures out there, a collection of abandoned buildings (shown near the center of the photograph) can be accessed within hiking distance of the parking lot. Be weary, however; the snow is deeper than it looks! This picture was taken while standing just outside my car. It isn’t difficult to capture a great picture without having to walk anywhere.
It’s nearing evening-time at Hatcher Pass. This is a similar shot of the gold mining ghost town and parking area shown earlier. The mountains are beautiful as the sun is going down. Shades of gray and blue emerge across the landscape as the lighting changes. Evening time presents one of my personal favorite aspects of Hatcher Pass; the texture of the snow may be captured in photographs when light is reflected off the crystals.
Obviously, several pictures posted here were gained only after hiking up a mountain. Aside from the two photos showing the parking area, however, each and every part (and more) of what was shared in this post can be seen without ever having to step out of your vehicle. Out of all the places in Alaska (most of which are unreachable – unless you’ve lived there a long time and/or have a ton of money), Hatcher Pass is the place I would recommend for anyone. If you’re looking to take in a bit of the wild – without the ‘life or death’ aspect – make sure this northern beauty tops your list!