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Palmer - Alaska

Short Season Farming

Alaska Hotels | Camping

Due north of Anchorage lies the Matanuska Valley, a fertile farming area settled by 200 Scandinavian-American farm families who were drawn to the valley from the Mid West states during the 1930s depression and FDR's New Deal. The story is well-told in James Michener's novel Alaska.

Living first in cabins with tent-tops, the colonists cleared the land, built their houses and farm buildings, and planted vegetables. Within five years, large harvests were realized and Palmer had become a growing town. Best known are the incredibly large vegetables grown in the almost constant summer sunlight, including 75-pound cabbages, ten-pound onions and 125-pound pumpkins. Roadside stands have fresh produce in season.

To reach Palmer, take the Glenn Highway which runs north from Anchorage to Tok. The Palmer Information Center provides all the information you need to see the valley, including a listing of farms, other attractions, and tours of the Matanuska Valley.

The Agricultural Research Station, in Palmer, has greenhouses and an arboretum. A mile south of town is the Alaska State Fairgrounds. The annual fair started as a harvest celebration during the early years of valley farming. It's now a major event, held during the last week of August through Labor Day.

Thrill-rides take visitors on air boats traveling up the Knik River to Knik Glacier. Two companies offer 3-hour tours. The local visitors center, across the railroad tracks at South Valley Way and East Fireweed Avenue, has information on all local attractions and special events.

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Camping

Homestead RV Park, P.O. Box 354, Palmer AK 99645, (907) 745-6005
This woodsy campground is six miles south of Palmer on the Glenn Highway, offering water and electrical hookups, tent sites, showers, laundry, and dump station. Look for the rustic log cabin office, at the junction of the Glenn and Parks highways.

Mountain View RV Park, P.O. Box 2521, Palmer AK 99645, (907) 745-5747 or 800-264-4582
Located off the Old Glenn Highway, on Smith Road, this large operation provides full hookups, pull-through sites, modern rest rooms, showers, dump station, and a laundry. The park offers fine views of the Matanuska Mountains.

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