New Off the Beaten Path Adventures

We’re always on the look out for adventures which get visitor’s off the beaten path and that can reasonably be experienced in a day or less while in Denali National Park or in the South Denali – Denali State Park region. So working with two of our local Alaska guide services, we’re excited to be able to showcase two new adventures which we’re sure will be among the highlights for visitors this summer.

The Denali State Park Raft & Kayak adventure starts with a visit to Byer’s Lake in Denali State Park, one of my own favorite places to visit. Byer’s Lake is located in a pristine setting at the foot of the Kesugi Ridge and offers spectacular views of Mt. McKinley. Along with your guide, you’ll use sit-on-top kayaks to paddle through the tranquil waters while on the watch for resident trumpeter swans, loons, and beavers. If you haven’t ever tried a sit-on-top kayak before you shouldn’t worry as they are easy to use even for new kayakers. One of the highlights for me while at Byer’s Lake is kayaking over pools of spawning salmon – I’ve also seen signs of bears along the far shore of the lake and the local guides say they occasionally see them from a safe distance away while kayaking.

From Byer’s Lake you’ll head to a unique, Alaskan lodge & café called Mary Cary’s where you’ll have lunch while enjoying views of Denali and the Alaska Range. Then its onward to your launching ground on the Chulitna River to embark on a peaceful, scenic raft trip that takes you through the stunning Chulitna Canyon and ends 19 miles downstream in the town of Talkeetna. Transportation is provided from both Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and McKinley Princess Lodge, or if you have your own car you can meet the guides at Byer’s Lake and they’ll bring you back to your car at the end of the day.

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A Visit to Denali’s Eielson Visitor Center

Denali National Park has three visitor centers inside the Park.  The Denali Park Visitor Center and the Murie Science & Learning Center are both located just inside the Denali Park entrance, about a mile up the Park Road.  The third is the Eielson Visitor Center which is located at mile 66 of the Park Road. A stop at Eielson Visitor Center is included in both the Kantishna Wilderness Tour and the Kantishna Experience Tour.  Because these tours are about 12 hours long, they are best suited for adults and families with older children.  The most popular park tour, the Tundra Wilderness Tour, is shorter but does not go to Eielson due to only traveling to mile 62 of the Park Road.  You can also reach the Eielson Visitor Center by purchasing a shuttle bus into the Park.  This option is popular to local Alaskans and other returning visitor’s to the park as well as those who are camping inside the park.  But be sure to not purchase the Toklat shuttle if a visit to Eielson is important to you as it turns around before the visitor center. (more…)

Alaska Travel Photo Contest Winner Selected

Over 550 photos were submitted for our 2010 Alaska Travel Photo Contest.  Our staff and several other Alaska travel industry managers have spent the last month judging which photo would be selected from among many amazing photos depicting Alaska’s wildlife, scenery, people, and adventure.   This year the photograph Denali Cow and Calf in Amber by Edward Krumanaker has been selected as the Contest’s grand prize winner.    (more…)

Dining in Denali

For the past five summers I have been visiting Denali and enjoying the locally owned restaurants. When you arrive in the Denali National Park area you find several large lodges and of course each of these has one if not multiple restaurants, ranging from casual cafés to more upscale restaurants. These restaurants are great but somtimes you want to explore the local fare, and there are several located within a few miles from the Denali Park entrance.

In the area known as the Denali Canyon you will find a full service restaurant & bar, a fish and chips restaurant, two beer and pizza joints, a hot dog stand and, and a burger joint with the best views in the canyon. The Denali Park Salmon Bake is located across from the Denali Princess Lodge and serves a hearty breakfast, has a full service bar and has a great lunch and dinner menu with local favorites such as Salmon Quesadillas and Halibut Tacos. (more…)

Fourth of July at the Kenai Princess Lodge

Kenai Princess Wilderness LodgeMy family and I were fortunate enough to sneak in a quick camping trip over the recent Fourth of July weekend. By way of disclaimer, or perhaps confession, I should elaborate on my family’s idea of “camping”. First we load up the RV with roughly half of the contents of our Anchorage home and head south on the Seward Highway towards our favorite “camping spot” in Cooper Landing. Even with holiday traffic, and the obligatory stop at the Girdwood “Y” bakery for apple fritters, we made the trip in right around two hours. Okay, another confession, this “camping spot” I am talking about is really in the driveway of my brother-in-law’s house who manages and lives next door to the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. (more…)

Anchorage’s Wildlife

Anchorage borders Chugach State Park, America’s third largest state park, and has over 225 greenbelts, local parks, other natural creek corridors within the Anchorage area which allow seasonal movement of animals throughout the area.  As a result, living among us within the Anchorage area are several thousand moose and sheep, a couple hundred bears, and many other animals.  Most residents of Anchorage have moose regularly visit their back yards and some residents see bear, coyote, fox and an occasional wolf in their neighborhoods, on the golf courses, or while biking along a local trail.  It may be a little more difficult for visitors to observe our abundant wildlife, but it is possible given the time and opportunity.   (more…)

Copper River Princess Lodge, A Base Camp for Adventure

copper-patio-bwOne of my favorite areas of Alaska is the Copper River Region. This area lies on the east side of the Chugach Mountain Range that surrounds Anchorage. This lesser visited area of Alaska is about a five hour drive from Anchorage. The Glenn Highway, an American Scenic Byway, passes through beautiful remote country with few populated areas. In preparation for the road trip, I make sure to put together a picnic for my traveling companions to enjoy on one of the various scenic turnouts overlooking the mountain glaciers along the highway. A great place to pick up delicious picnic supplies in Anchorage is the New Sagaya City Market in downtown Anchorage.

The Copper River Princess Lodge is a gracious and comfortable lodge conveniently located close to both Wrangell St Elias National Park and Valdez on the Prince William Sound. The Lodge is situated on a bluff overlooking the Copper River Valley that borders Wrangell-St Elias National Park. There are expansive views of the Copper River and the spectacular mountains of Wrangell St Elias from the lobby of the lodge. On my trips to the Copper River Valley I always make it a point to take time to sit out on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the grand views of the mountains in the park. (more…)

Matanuska Glacier

matanuska-glacier-hikeMatanuska Glacier, located on the East side of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, is the largest road-accessible glacier in Alaska.  The glacier is easily seen from several locations along the Glen Highway which runs for 189 miles between Anchorage and Glenallen, Alaska.    The Glen Highway, a National Scenic Byway, is one of Alaska’s most beautiful highways and is well worth the time to experience for those who are touring Alaska by car on a self-drive itinerary and want to include such destinations as Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Valdez, Alaska.  The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is located at mile 101 and provides some interpretive signage along with a short nature walk on a ridge above the Matanuska River.  The recreation site is well worth the stop to stretch your legs as it’s near the half way mark between Anchorage and Glenallen.  (more…)

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