Alaska Wildlife “Guaranteed” Viewing!

Alaska CaribouIf you are like most visitors to Alaska one of the primary reasons you want to visit is to see Alaska’s bountiful wildlife.  After all, images of large brown bears in a stream feasting on Alaskan salmon or a bull moose grazing in alpine ponds are iconic pictures of what visitors seek in planning trips to Alaska. However, Alaska is a HUGE state and even though there are over 175,000 moose and 30,000 bears among other wildlife in Alaska they are not always conveniently staged in their local habitat such as in our parks such as Denali, Kenai Fjords, or Lake Clark National Park.   (more…)

Alaska’s Premier National Park Escorted Tour

NPT-Denali-hutson.l4If your still planning a trip to Alaska this summer and are concerned about putting together the perfect trip or traveling independently, you may find that the perfect fit is a 7-night Escorted Tour of Alaska’s National Parks.  The tour includes many of the best hotels, tours, and transportation found in Alaska Tour & Travel’s own custom travel packages but also includes many meals, luggage handling, and a professional escort.  The National Park Escorted tour is a group tour with departures still available this summer starting on August 1st, August 15th and September 5th. (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…)

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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Experiencing the Glaciers of South-central Alaska

Matanuska GlacierA glacier is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a very large area of ice that moves slowly down a slope or valley or over a wide area of land – A fairly bland description of a breathtaking sight! A common Alaska definition of a glacier is a river of ice. Glaciers common to Alaska include tidewater glaciers, hanging glaciers and valley glaciers. Tidewater glaciers flow down mountains and end in the sea, hanging glaciers rest on mountain sides and only descend a part of the way down the mountain and valley glaciers fill mountain valleys.

Glaciers are one of the top Alaskan attractions. Alaska is home to 100,000 glaciers, two-thirds of all of the glaciers on earth. Whether seen from the air, from the water or on a hike, your first sight of a glacier can be an awe-inspiring, humbling experience. It is amazing how accessible these massive rivers of ice can be! Below is a guide to the glaciers of South-central Alaska. (more…)

The Denali Park Village – More Than Just a Name Change

dpr_Village_OutdoorSince its development, the area 7-miles south of the Denali National Park entrance has been called the McKinley Village, the area’s name associated with the McKinley Village Lodge located on an arching river bank cut long ago by the Nenana River. The Village name remains in part, but the owners of the lodge have now replaced “McKinley” with “Denali Park”. This change is welcomed by those who support ridding North America’s tallest peak the name associated with President William McKinley in favor of Denali, the Athabascans’ name meaning “The High One.” The new name is therefore is The Lodge at Denali Park Village.

Denali-River-Cabins-with-KaThe Denali Park Village has expanded to include its former neighbor, the Denali River Cabins, which was purchased by Denali Park Resorts early last winter. The River Cabins, considered an economical, value property in the past with its small cabins located on the Nenana River has been re-branded as The Cabins at Denali Park Village. The Denali Park Village owners have spent the winter freshening up The Cabins’ interiors and replacing the double beds with one king bed. Other amenities include a wall-mounted television, telephone, alarm clock, hair dryer, coffee maker and complimentary Starbucks coffee. You can upgrade to a deluxe cabin that in addition to the standard room amenities also includes a bathrobe, complimentary bottled water, and feature either a wilderness or river view. (more…)

Guided Hikes in Alaska

k2-ultimateIf your like most independent visitors coming to Alaska, you are seeking active experiences that thrust you into Alaska’s scenic wilderness. As a result, one of the most popular activities you may take part in are guided hikes into Alaska’s backcountry. Alaska Tour & Travel offers guided hiking tours in Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali State Park, and at Denali National Park and the great news is that when surveying our 2013 clients, we discovered that the guided hikes we offer were among the highest rated tour experiences included in packages. Hiking allows you the opportunity to “get off the beaten path” and to experience Alaskan destinations which even many Alaskan’s haven’t seen. Typically, guided hikes tend to have a smaller maximum number of participants to reduce the impact on the environment. Your safety is always the priority on any professionally guided hiking excursion. Most guiding services keep the guide to hiker ratio to less than six to one, which allows participants to not only to get to know their guides personally, but also provides the guide the opportunity to provide more interpretation about the ecosystem.

Alaska’s wild expanses result not having any two hikes being alike, which is terrific for avid hikers who want to include multiple hiking trips in their trip. Difficulty wise, hikes range from novice hikes which are little more than a walk through the woods to more technical hikes which require participants to suit up with glacial gear while hiking on accessible glaciers. Hikes also range by the means of transport it takes to “being able to hit the trail” – whether the trail head is just outside a lodges front door, a short van ride, a ride on a tram up to the top of a mountain, or by helicopter or float plane to a remote location all of these options are available. Here are a few hikes to consider including in a travel itinerary.

Anchorage

chugach-hikingRising to the east of the City of Anchorage are the Chugach Mountains and one of Alaska’s best state parks – the Chugach State Park. The Anchorage Day Hike provides visitors a chance to explore an alpine environment with beautiful vistas of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and on a clear day view as far away as Mt. McKinley. Transportation is included, and the name itself doesn’t do the experience justice as the best thing that the Anchorage Day Hike does is quickly transport you away from the city up into one of Alaska’s most accessible and scenic wilderness areas. Our staff loves spending time in Chugach State Park and the views from our office of the Chugach Mountains beckon us often into the mountains during summer months. Each Anchorage Day Hike is tailored to your fitness level and transportation is included from Anchorage hotels. (more…)

Kenai Fjords National Park Day Cruise Options

aialik-glacierOne of the most popular national parks in Alaska is Kenai Fjords National Park. Located about 130 miles south of Anchorage, it is easily accessible by car, bus or train. Seward is the small coastal community located at the entrance of the park. From Seward you can take a day cruise out to see all the park has to offer. Kenai Fjords National Park is known for great marine wildlife viewing, such as whales, sea lions, otters and more! Also, not to be missed on these cruises are the glaciers.

There are two types of cruises offered out of Seward: “National Park” cruises that go 110-120+ miles round trip and shorter “Resurrection Bay” cruises that go about 55 miles round trip. It is important to understand that the longer the cruise the better chance you have to see wildlife as well as additional tidewater glaciers. It is also helpful to know that two companies operate Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay cruises – Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours. Both companies have good reputations so choosing what company and what cruise to take really comes down to identifying which cruise is best for you based on your own preferences and schedule. (more…)

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