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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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 Adventure. 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. Denali 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…)

Experiencing the Glaciers of Southcentral 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 Southcentral Alaska. (more…)

50th Anniversary of The Great Alaska Earthquake – Sites to Visit

sb-earthquake-park-monumentMarch 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…)

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 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.

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. 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…)

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