About Palmer


Palmer is located in south-central Alaska, in the beautiful Matanuska Valley, at 61 36'7''N 149 7'2''W / 61.60194 N 149.11722 W

Palmer is 42 miles (68 km) northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway.  The city itself has a total area of 3.8 square miles (9.7 square kilometers).

You might have heard of Alaska's giant vegetables, especially the famous massive cabbages. What you may not know is that members of the Matanuska Valley's dedicated farming community hold multiple world records for giant cabbages, turnips, carrots, broccoli and other vegetables. Every year, people bring their oversized crops to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer to be weighed, judged and displayed, to the continual amazement of the public.  Residents of the area are often asked the question, "why do vegetables grow so large in Alaska?"  The answer is simple: The Matanuska-Susitna Valley, also considered the bread basket of Alaska, was carved out by a glacier.  Remnants of that glacier still exists today in the soil which is a combination of both soil and glacier silt.  In addition, the Valley has ideal growing conditions in the summer that include average temperatures of 61 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 19 hours of daylight which extends the growing time for local produce.  These two factors when combined, provide the ideal growing conditions that are capable of creating some big masterpieces.


Alaska's 24-hour sun helps to create giant vegetables. From America's Heartland produced by KVIE Public Television in Sacramento, CA. http://www.americasheartland.org/episodes/episode_216/alaskas_state_fair_giant_vegetables.html



According to the 2010 census, there were 5,937 people, 1,508 households, and 1,058 families residing the city.  However, Palmer is a rapidly growing town; the estimated population has been estimated to have risen to 6,515 in 2014.

In 2010, the racial makeup of Palmer was 79.1% white, 1.8% African American, 9.2% Native Alaskan and Native American, 1.1% Asian, .4% Pacific Islander, 4.6% Hispanic or Latino, and 7.6% from two or more races.

According to the most recent data the population in Palmer is diverse in age, with 33.7% under the age of 19, 8.3% from 20 to 24, 27.5% 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% were over 65 years of age or older.  The median age was 29 years old, and for every 100 females there were 98.1 males.

The median income for a household in the Palmer city limits in 2010 was $45,571, and the median income for a family is $53,164.  The median income for males in the city was $44,716 versus $25,221 for females.  The per capita income for the city was $17,203.

Racial Diversity

Age Diversity



Palmer has a mild coastal climate (that is, if any part of Alaska can be considered mild!).  The average monthly temperature for December and January is 13 degrees Fahrenheit, while for July and August it is 58 degrees Fahrenheit.  The coastal climate of the area results in smaller amounts of snow than other areas of Alaska.  The highest average monthly snowfall is 9.3 inches.  Because Palmer rests at the mouths of two valleys, however, the town routinely experiences very high winds which can remove most of the accumulated snow.

Because Alaska is close to the north pole, daylight varies greatly between the summer and winter.  In June, Palmer gets an average of 19 hours of light per day, while there is an average of only 5 hours of light in December.  It is difficult to say exactly how many hours of light occur near the winter and summer solstices, because the low angle of the sun results in very long periods of dusk and dawn.

Many individuals have trouble adjusting to the unusually long and short days, which can result in tiredness and depression in the winter and sleeplessness in the summer. Plenty of folks, however, consider the unusual quality of the light and the fantastic sunrises and sunsets to be worth the extra darkness. In addition, enthusiastic outdoorspeople make up a significant portion of the population, and they often welcome the extra daylight hours to hunt, fish and hike in the summer, prefering to sleep a little less in order to enjoy the short warm season more fully.


Matanuska-Susitna Valley

Palmer is a part of the Mat-Su Valley, which spans over 23,000 square miles of land, three mountain ranges, four state game refugees, six recreational rivers, multiple glaciers, and thousands of lakes, ponds, and streams.  Because there is so much wilderness to hike in, the Mat-Su Valley boasts over 1,000 miles of documented trails.

Palmer is a member of the Mat-Su Borough School District, which has 45 schools and a district-wide enrollment of over 17,000 students.  Palmer High School is the only high school in the United States to have a moose for a mascot.



U.S. Census Quickfacts Website

U.S. Census FactFinder Website 

Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District Fast Facts


retrieved 9/29/12

Matanuska-Sustina Borough Fast Facts