Lets 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…)
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 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…)
March 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake, the strongest earthquake to ever hit North America. This 9.2 magnitude quake was the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded, the first being the 1960 earthquake in Chile. The earthquake struck at 5:36pm and lasted over four minutes. Strong aftershocks were felt throughout the South-central Alaska region for days and weeks after the initial earthquake.The earthquake itself was responsible for 15 deaths and 124 people perished as a result of subsequent tsunamis. The tsunami death toll includes 5 killed in Oregon and 13 killed by the tsunami in California. (more…)
If you are 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 past 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.
Rising 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. Denali. 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…)
The Running of the Reindeer is one of Fur Rondy‘s newer events – having been part of the Fur Rondy for six years and has become one of the Festivals most popular events. An Alaskan twist to Spain’s “Running with the Bulls” event, over 2000 Alaskans dress up in furs, crazy homemade costumes and antlers. The reindeer come from a farm located just off the Glenn Highway in Butte, Alaska. Before the first year, questions arose as to how the reindeer would react in the big crowds and how are they going to get the reindeer to run the few blocks down Anchorage’s 4th Avenue. Fur Rondy organizers decided to use thirteen reindeer. After much thought the farm decided that if they put one female at the end of the race in a pen that naturally the twelve males they were using would run towards her. It worked! (more…)
There are some great Alaska adventures that can be done as day trips from Anchorage. Depending on your interests, you can take a glacier cruise, take a flight over Mt. McKinley or go on a dog sled ride and be back in your Anchorage hotel by bedtime.There are two fantastic options for glacier cruises from Anchorage. The cruise out of Seward offers a variety of wildlife and glaciers and the cruise from Whittier focuses more on glacier viewing. To visit the Kenai Fjords National Park from Anchorage in a day, I recommend the following itinerary. Depart Anchorage by rail at 6:45am. The Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward offers some spectacular scenery which includes the Turnagain Arm and Spencer Glacier. Arrive in Seward at 11:05am. Depart on the 11:30am glacier and wildlife catamaran cruise. Major Marines offers a terrific salmon and prime rib buffet while cruising Kenai Fjords during which you will enjoy six hours on the water. Return to Anchorage via the Park Connection motorcoach which departs Seward at 6:30pm and arrive back in Anchorage by 9:30pm. The first half of the bus trip does not parallel the rail belt so this combination of train and bus offers the chance to see more Alaskan scenery. (more…)
Anchorage, for most visitors to Alaska is simply a launching point for adventures to Denali National Park or the Kenai Peninsula but I believe that Anchorage has a lot to offer visitors. Visitors can enjoy great museums, biking, back-country hiking and of course, the best shopping and dining in Alaska.
A great way to start your visit in Anchorage is with a morning city tour. This two hour tour gives you a great orientation to the city and also gives you the historical highlights of Anchorage. When I travel to a new city, I like to go on a guided, local tour because it helps me orient to my new surroundings and I learn a little about the local history, visitor attractions, and geography.
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…)