Car-less in Denali

We often are asked, “how do you get around in Denali if we don’t have our own car?” Well, it is fairly easy with a little planning and knowledge of the transportation options to get to and around Denali. Traveling to Denali, we usually recommend traveling one way via the Alaska Railroad or the Wilderness Express and the other way by The Park Connection Motorcoach.  The Park Connection departs from and drops off at all of the major hotels in Denali and the hotels we recommend are selected in part because they pick up and drop off at the railroad depot.  Once in Denali, there is a network of National Park Service shuttles and local Denali hotel and tour operators that provide complimentary transportation to clients. The next step to planning a visit to Denali National Park without your own car is to select a hotel which provides a shuttle service into the Denali Park entrance area and to the Alaska Railroad Depot.

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Great Hikes in Alaska to Explore on Own or with a Guide

Chugach State Park

Hiking in Alaska’s back-country is one of the most popular activities for those who live in Alaska and visitors as well. There are endless possibilities for those with hiking experience to venture out on their own in the back-country of Alaska. Alaska offers many guided hike opportunities and some easy hikes you can do on your own in some of Alaska’s most popular destinations that are suitable for the less experienced hiker that just want to get off the beaten trail and experience the serenity and beauty of Alaska.

Anchorage
Anchorage is blessed with over 250 miles of trails within the city and has over 230 parks, some of them very large. Anchorage also sits in the shadow of the mountains of Chugach State Park which is easily accessible and a short 15 to 20 minute drive from downtown. The half-day Chugach State Park Anchorage Day Hike departs from most of the hotels in downtown Anchorage mid-morning and returns after about four hours. You will travel by van to the scenic Glen Alps Trail-head and a naturalist guide will tailor a hike to match your fitness level. Hike in the alpine Chugach Mountains and valleys that surround Anchorage while your guide teaches you about the flora, fauna, geology and history of the area. It does not take long before you leave the city sights and immerse yourself in Alaska’s wilderness. Keep an eye out for moose and marmot. Trail snacks and water will be provided. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, layered clothing and a backpack. This hike is great for families! (more…)

Alaska’s Summer Weather

The most common question we get regarding travel to Alaska is what will the weather be like?  If only we could tell you for sure, but weather is difficult to predict.  This spring has started out dry, real dry!  But in Alaska that doesn’t necessarily reflect what the weather will be even tomorrow! Alaskan summers are cooler than many visitors are used to but it is still summer – a winter parka is not necessary!  Many travelers revel in the cooler temperatures.  Alaska is a big state so the weather does vary from region to region. Alaska is a great place to visit anytime of the year although most visitors come from mid-May to mid-September.  (more…)

What to Pack For Your Vacation to Alaska

What should I pack for my trip to Alaska? The question comes up for every traveler.

With Alaska’s diverse climate it can be tricky, so here are a few tips to get you on your way; It’s important to be prepared for a variety of activities and conditions. Alaska’s summer temperatures range from 40 degrees F to 70 degrees F. For more information on our average temperatures please check out our blog on Alaska’s Weather. The first key element in thinking about your wardrobe for Alaska is layers.  On an average day we have a variety of conditions so if you are going to be outside it’s good to layer up with a T-shirt, Sweater or Fleece Jacket, and top it off with a quality Rain Coat.  For the fleece or sweater layer it’s important to consider a wool or polyester product. Cotton is not a good option because once it’s wet, it’s no longer warm.

The second key item would be your footwear. Overall, Alaska is very casual and sneakers are acceptable just about anywhere. we would encourage you to have a comfortable pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes. If you plan to be fairly active you may want to make your second set of shoes a light hiking boot. If a portion of your trip will be by cruise ship you may want to consider a pair of dress shoes.

Here is a list of items to make sure you have included in your packing:

Clothing that can be layered (you may even want to consider a pair of long underwear if you are planning on any hiking, kayaking, or river rafting)

  • Rain Coat
  • Light Fleece Jacket
  • Hat and gloves (sometimes it can be chilly especially out on the water or near any of the glaciers)
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Camera
  • A Backpack or Carry on type bag
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Drivers License and or Passport (a passport is required if you are taking an Alaskan Cruise)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Personal toiletries
  • Medications (some of our remote areas will not have pharmacies available)
  • Swimsuit (only if you plan on using the hotel pool or hot tubs where available)

You can find average weather conditions along with links to current weather conditions by Alaska destination here.  Lastly, if you’ve booked a package through Alaska Tour & Travel be sure to read through each of the tour itineraries included in your documents.  If the tour operators such as rafting, hiking, or kayaking have any  particular suggestions on what to bring with you for your excursion we’ll have that noted in the itinerary.

A Trip To Kantishna – Denali Park’s Best Experience

KantishnaWe are often asked by visitors how to experience the best of Denali National Park. Without question, the best opportunity to see Mt. McKinley, observe wildlife, and experience a more exclusive, intimate perspective of Denali National Park is to make sure that a visit to Kantishna is included in your travel plans either as a day trip or a two night back-country lodging adventure. Located 92 miles deep into the Park, Kantishna is close to Wonder Lake. This lake, known for its epic reflections of Mt. McKinley, is something most Denali visitors see only on postcards as they don’t get deep enough into the National Park. The rolling foothills of Kantishna with views of Mt. McKinley, the historic streams that seemingly sparkle with gold, the abundant wildlife, and the premium lodging in Denali make the all day journey an adventure that will sure to be the highlight of your trip to Alaska. (more…)

Lowell Point Kayaking Out of Seward

sck10Over the past couple of years my family and I have found that we love kayaking! My daughters are 13 and 15 and relish new outdoor experiences. This past summer we chose to go on a guided kayak tour in Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska. The Lowell Point Kayaking tour with Sunny Cove Kayaking departs from Lowell Point about two miles from downtown Seward. Sunny Cove does not have their own transportation to their kayak base so if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to take a taxi out to the Lowell Point from Seward.  Depending on where you depart from, a taxi will cost about $15-$20 dollars. We all were dressed in layers with rain gear and warm hats. While it was July the weather was overcast and cool! Upon our arrival we were outfitted with rubber boots, a life vest and a kayak skirt and asked to complete a standard waiver.

sck4After all kayakers were outfitted we headed to the beach and listened to a safety briefing which included kayaking tips and instructions. The tour group included a mix of ages as well as experienced kayakers and beginners. We had two guides and a total of ten guests. We loaded into our tandem kayaks – we had one adult with each of our kids. While one guide waited in the bay, the other guide helped us launch off of the beach. From the beach, the water looked a little rough but once we were in the bay in our kayaks it did not seem rough at all and was in fact smooth sailing! (more…)

A Denali Park Flight from Kantishna

Mt. McKinley from Kantishna

Mt. McKinley from Kantishna

Most visitors to Denali National Park stay two nights, possibly three, and have limited time to experience all the opportunities that Denali offers. We believe that if you have two days in Denali, the best excursion that you can take is a full day tour to Kantishna either on the Kantishna Wilderness Tour or the Denali Backcountry Tour. These tours are operated by two lodges that are about 93 miles deep into Denali, in fact, their lodges are located at the end of the Denali Park Road in Kantishna.

The tours into Kantishna include a bus ride both directions during which you see more of Denali National Park and have more opportunities to see wildlife and Mt. McKinley then you would on any other tour. It is a 12 hour adventure and so you are in Denali for a full day. It’s an unforgettable experience and one we recommend without hesitation to visitors that desire to really immerse themselves in Denali.

Mt. McKinley During Flight

For those whose budget can afford it, an upgrade that we recommend is to take the bus tour one way to Kantishna and return to the Denali Park entrance by a majestic Denali Park Flightseeing excursion. (more…)

Spencer Glacier Hike & Kayak Adventure

One rainy day in late August my family and I set out on a new adventure – a trip to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop to kayak on Spencer Lake and the chance to hike on Spencer glacier. to get to Spencer, you’ll need to take the Alaska Railroad’s Glacial Discovery train from either Anchorage or Girdwood. We traveled by car to Girdwood along the Turnagain Arm and were lucky enough to see Beluga whales in route.

ryan-glacial-talkWe parked at the Hotel Alyeska and checked in with Ascending Path at the yurt next to the hotel. In the yurt we were fitted with crampons for our walk on the glacier. The guides also made sure that we were dressed appropriately – full rain gear, many layers, hats, gloves and NO cotton clothing! Alaska weather is always an adventure and can be enjoyed as long as you are prepared. A good hiking shoe is a plus but I only had running shoes and did okay. My feet got wet due to the rain and a bit cold but the crampon attached comfortably to my shoes. The guide service, The Ascending Path, will also set you up with climbing boots to use while on the glacier. A few of us took them up on the offer, while I did not. In retrospect I should have as they were much more comfortable and warm then I was by the end of the day. (more…)

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