Alaska Wildlife “Guaranteed” Viewing!

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…)

Seward – More than the Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park

seward-alaska-exit-glacier-The population of Seward Alaska is about to rise rapidly as the summer season arrives. The town boasts a year round population of about 3,000 residents however that easily doubles once the tourists arrive. Seward is most known as the “Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park” and offers a plethora of boat tours that include glacier and wildlife viewing. These tours are spectacular and not to be missed on any visit to Seward, but the town has a lot more to offer such as kayaking, fishing, dog kennel tours and hiking. For help choosing which boat tour to take be sure to read our blog on Kenai Fjords boat cruises. (more…)

Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous Festival

fur-rendezvous-downtownLets Rondy! In 1935 Anchorage had less than 3000 residents, three friends got together and decided Anchorage needed a festival to coincide with the customary time that miners and trappers came into town with their goods to sell or trade. They recognized that winters were difficult on fellow Alaskans. After-all, the cold winters and significantly more difficult traveling conditions resulted in residents suffering from cabin-fever, a common syndrome for Alaskans who tended to stay indoors and didn’t have the opportunity to socialize or exercise as much during the long, dark winter months.  They named the event, Fur Rendezvous or Rondy for short! Early events included hockey, skiing, basketball, boxing and a children’s dog sled race. Many residents also showed up for the parade and city bonfire. Through the years after the initial Fur Rendezvous new events arose and the event became more and more popular. Since then the Fur Rendezvous has earned a national and international reputation for being one of the best winter events in the world. (more…)

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 Trailhead 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…)

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…)

Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

Wildlife is one of Alaska’s major attractions. Alaska is home to brown and black bears, moose, caribou, wolves, sheep, eagles, whales and more. Alaska is also the largest state in the United States so the wildlife has room to spread out. This is great for the wildlife but can make it hard for the tourists to find the wildlife! While wildlife viewing is rarely guaranteed, below I will recommend where to travel in South-central and Interior Alaska to have the best opportunity to view Alaska’s wildlife.

Denali National Park
Denali National Park covers six million acres and many wild animals live within the parks’ boundaries. The Denali Park Road is the only road in the park and travels 90 miles deep into the heart of Denali National Park. Travel along this road offers the best opportunity to view Alaska’s Big Five – bear, moose, caribou, wolves and sheep. Only the first 15 miles of the Park Road are accessible by private vehicle and your chances of seeing wild life increases greatly the farther into the park you travel. We recommend the Kantishna Wilderness Trails tour which travels the full length of the road. The ride is long but the more time you spend on the Park Road the greater your chance of seeing wildlife. It also helps that there are many sets of eyes searching for the animals. The drivers of the tour bus have a lot of experience in Denali National Park and they will stop whenever possible to watch the wildlife. (more…)

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