If you have some time and a little bit of sunshine, take a trip over to Wrangell-St. Elias Nat'l Park and then dip south to Valdez. It will give you some spectacular views of the mountain kingdom and an excuse to experience Thompson Pass.
Brian and I visited the Nation's Largest National Park last year around this time and were blessed with almost perfect weather. This four-mountain-range junction is to date, one of my favorite must-see places in Alaska. We stayed at the Copper River Princess Lodge, a gorgeous facility with views of Mts. Wrangell, Drum, Blackburn and Sanford, the latter two peaking out over 16,000 feet. The beautiful sunset paired well with a glass of red wine and a cigar out on the patio, and there was even a modest showing of Northern Lights that night--- didn't have to wait for the wake-up call before the lights started dancing, around 11 p.m.
Just when you think you've surpassed your maximum capacity for wilderness appreciation, as Alaskan scenery is wont to do, you hit Thompson Pass. Full of peaks, valleys, gorges, glaciers and cascading waterfalls from snow melt.
It just so happens, when we departed from Wrangell for our first leg of Thompson Pass, we got a break --- from soaking it all in and from our good fortune. The weather turned sour, soggy and 45'F. But the low-lying storm clouds shrouded the mountains in mystery and romance. The curvaceous road was slightly shrouded but not too badly, just enough to be interesting... from what I remember. I wasn't the one driving... and there's a good chance I was asleep... exhausted and full on humble pie after a failed attempt to summit the deceptively accessible Worthington Glacier... I just wanted to touch it...
We reached Valdez late, and with all the restaurants closed and our only option the open-til-midnight convenience store, we made a dinner for two back at the motel out of cheese, crackers, dried sausage and a six pack. The only thing missing was candle light. We feasted and fell asleep to the Food Network. Romance was at its zenith.
The next morning, after a bit of sight-seeing, Good Friday Earthquake education and fishing, we headed back north. The sun started to burn off the afternoon clouds, and Thompson Pass was a whole other world than the one we drove less than 24 hours earlier. Every patch of snow was sparkling. Every waterfall had a rainbow, including Bridal Veil Falls. I think the judges will take that as a good omen, according to any legend.
So, visit this part of Alaska if you can. And don't worry if you get skunked one day on the weather. I think seeing Thompson Pass through the shadows made it that much prettier to experience in the sunlight.
If you have lousy weather the whole time... sorry, man, that's rough. But I can recommend a convenience store in Valdez that has a very nice selection of domestic beer and cured meats.