The town of Palmer started as an agricultural community, when families were sent to colonize the area under a government program during the Great Depression. The Matanuska-Susitna colony was established under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. The community quickly grew as families flourished, and it is the only area in Alaska that was developed from an agricultural standpoint. Palmer today is still a rapidly growing town, and farming still plays a role in many of the residents' daily lives.
Palmer offers a variety of restaurants, shopping and sighting seeing. The town itself has preserved much of its historic charm, with wooden storefronts and an old-fashioned "Main Street" that has an abundance of shops and eateries. Palmer's Visitors Center is located right in the downtown area, and is a good source of information on things to do in the area. Palmer is also home to the Alaska State Fair, which takes place each August and offers plenty of food, carnival rides, livestock viewing and giant Alaskan produce.
Activities for visitors include the nearby Hatcher Pass, originally a mining area and home to the Independence Mine State Historical Park. There are tours of the mine available, as well as hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Winter sports such as snowshoeing, skiing and snowmachining are very popular as well. Matanuska Glacier is also near Palmer, and is a great way to get up close and personal with a real glacier, with tours available and a walking path that takes visitors right out onto the glacier itself. White-water rafting, flight seeing and fishing are just few of the many other activities available.
Located just 42 miles northeast of Anchorage via the Glenn Highway, one of Alaska's scenic byways, Palmer makes for a great day or overnight trip and is a great window into Alaska's natural beauty and outdoor adventures.
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