Located in the Matanuska Valley, Palmer is 42 miles northeast of Anchorage via the Glenn Highway.
Palmer was established about 1916 as a railway station on the Matanuska branch of the Alaska Railroad. In 1935, Palmer became the site of the Matanuska Valley Colony, a federal relief program that moved American farm families from the northern counties of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, to Alaska. Palmer is Alaska’s only community that developed primarily from an agricultural economy. The growing season averages 100 to 118 days a year, with long hours of sunshine.
Palmer has all visitor facilities including restaurants, hotels and motels such as the Alaska Choice Inn Motel phone 907-745-1505, Colony Inn phone 907-745-3330, and Peak Inn Motel phone 907-746-5757. On Hatcher Pass Road, stay at Hatcher Pass B&B at Mile 6.6. Hatcher Pass Lodge is at Mile 17.2 with private cabins and restaurant. Area campgrounds and RV parks include Fox Run Lodge & Campground, Kepler Park, Mountain View RV Park (2.8 miles south from here), and Matanuska River Park phone 907-861-8578 (Mat-Su Burough-owned). There are grocery stores a laundromat, auto repair and parts and shopping at Just Sew, Shane Lamb Gallery, Turner's Corner and at the many other galleries and shops in the area. Dining at Noisy Goose Cafe, serving breakfast all day; phone 907-746-4600 and Turkey Red phone 907-746-5544.
- Don't miss the Showcase Gardens in summer, located adjacent the visitor centre.
- Photograph and observe musk ox at the Musk-Ox Farm, open May to September.
- Visit the Colony House Museum phone 907-745-1935, a restored example of one of the original homes of the Matanuska Valley Colonists. The restored Colony Inn, also on East Elmwood Avenue, was originally a teachers' dormitory for the Matanuska Colony project in the 1930s.
- Rent a pedal boat, rowboat or canoe at Kepler Park.
- The Reindeer Farm on Bodenburg Loop Road, 7 miles south of Palmer via the Old Glenn Highway, is a commercial reindeer farm. Open daily in summer for tours.
- Knik Glacier Tours, 10 miles south via the Old Glenn then 8.4 miles up Knik River Road, transports visitors to the face of Knik Glacier.
- Palmer Golf Course has 18 holes (par 72, USGA rated). It is one of the first Alaska courses to open in spring and is known for its spectacular setting.
- Baseball game featuring Palmer’s Mat-Su Miners, one of six teams in the Alaska Baseball League. Baseball schedules are published in the local newspapers or visit.
- Special events include Colony Days (in June); the Palmer Pride Picnic (July) and the Alaska State Fair (11 days from late August through Labor Day weekend). Agricultural exhibits, food booths, games, pony rides and midway rides. This is a very popular event: Be prepared for lots of traffic! But it’s worth the drive just to see the huge vegetables.
- Visit Scenic Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park, a half-hour’s drive from Palmer.