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 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 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…)

2013 Alaska Travel Photo Contest Winners

chaney.j5Alaska Tour & Travel received over 400 photos this summer from visitors and Alaskans whos travels and photographs covered much of the State of Alaska. For the past five years we have given an award to the photographer whose photo best depicts Alaska’s spectacular wildlife, scenery, people or adventure. The 2013 Grand Prize is a 32GB WiFi iPad. This year in addition to the Grand prize, we are giving a 16 GB iPad MINI to the photographer for their Alaska Railroad themed photo as well. This year’s Grand Prize photograph was selected as “Eagle Hunting” by John C from Houston, Texas. John submitted several beautiful wildlife photographs of wildlife which he took during trips to Alaska. We’ve seen many photographs of eagles over the years, and our staff and other judges were particularly impressed with “Eagle Hunting”. (more…)

Alaska Cheechako Defined

My wife is turning 50 today, and as often happens with milestones such as these, family and friends have been busy digging out old photos to share. As I rummaged through my closet this morning lo and behold I found the first photos I ever took of her, from June of 1988. She had just arrived in Alaska for the first time a month earlier, and clearly… she was a Cheechako.

Cheechako is a term Alaskan’s often use to refer to folks who are visiting or have recently arrived in Alaska, usually “from the lower 48”. If you come and visit our great state and someone calls you a Cheechako, not to fear, it is a term generally used in good fun. Sure, you may not know what “bunny boots” are or 101 uses for duct tape, but you are welcome just the same.

Back to those pictures. They were taken at the original Birdhouse Bar, a true Alaskan bar that was located in the little town of Bird Creek, on the highway between Anchorage and Girdwood. The bar was situated in an authentic circa 1903 miner’s cabin, which over time had sunk haphazardly into the surrounding terrain. This all had left the floor quite slanted and difficult to navigate, especially after a few beers. It had a number of interesting traditions, such as encouraging patrons to leave a dollar bill, driver’s license or article of their underwear stapled to the ceiling. The one Bird House tradition reserved just for Cheechakos was the “calling of the Ptarmigan” which, by the way, is the official Alaska state bird. (more…)

Fall Colors at Riley Creek

Congratulations to Jeff Bell from Weatherford, Oklahoma for being selected to win our 2012 Alaska Tour & Travel Photo Contest for his photo “Fall Colors at Riley Creek.  “Fall Colors” was one of over 500 photos submitted to us this year.  Jeff visited Denali National Park in early September and captured some wonderful photos of Mt. McKinley, Alaska wildlife, and the rest of Denali Park. (more…)

Our Own Alaska Pilot

Karen Hessert, has worked for Alaska Tour & Travel for over 10 years, and has lived in Alaska for over 20 years.  Last summer Karen decided it was time to fulfill her dream of becoming an Alaskan pilot and late in the year she received her private pilot license.  Karen recently said “as I reached another milestone in my journey I looked back and am amazed at all the skills I have acquired as well as the spectacular adventures I have experienced.  Whether I am at Merrill Air Field doing touch and go’s around Anchorage, going out to the practice fields near Big Lake or going on another cross country trip to Fairbanks, Seward, Soldotna, Gulkana or other areas within South central and Interior parts of Alaska I am reminded each time of the precious scenery Alaska has to offer.  Absolutely stunning views and I have the best seat to witness it all.” (more…)

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