How do you begin to plan a trip to Alaska? Statistics shows that only 20% of Alaska’s roads are paved versus an average 91% for the other 49 states. Because so much of the state is undeveloped wilderness, from national parks, glaciers, mountains and remote villages, much of the land here is accessible only by water or air.
In my previous post: Alaska, The Last Frontier, I have included our itinerary and some tips for trip planning. Here are a few things which are must-see.
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND 26 GLACIER TOUR
The Klondike Express is a 338-passenger catamaran which starts from the Cliff side Marina, Whittier (located across from the Train Station next to the Cruise Ship Terminal in Whittier) and travels over 140 miles. See my post Alaska Videos for the videosThe voyage included visits to several types of glaciers, including Alpine (hanging), Piedmont and Tidewater. We were also able to see some marine wildlife and Glacier calving- when broken pieces of ice fall into the water and become icebergs on the way. Got really close to some of the glaciers, had great picture moments and saw some fantastic scenery on the way. Driving to Whittier, we had to pass through a tunnel to reach Whittier that operates on a set schedule and requires a toll. Check the schedule before leaving. It took us 1 hr. and 15 min. to drive from our hotel in Anchorage to Whittier.
GLACIER DOG SLEDDING
Driving time from Anchorage to Girdwood was about an hour. On reaching there we had to fill a waiver form and then were then we were fitted with water and wind proofing gear. We were then separated into groups of three since the helicopter can only take a total of four people at a time including the pilot. The helicopter ride into the Chugach Mountains onto the Punch Bowl Glaciers was amazing and we got to see some stunning views.
On the glacier, we rode on a sled pulled by 9 dogs while enjoying the majestic views of the scenic snow-covered mountain peaks and valleys around us. Got to experience the enthusiasm of the dogs getting ready to pull the sled and their endurance and their desire to run. See my post Alaska Videos for the videosAn Iditarod musher told us about his experiences and stories in breeding, training and finally participating in the race.
Highly recommended experience – it was one of the highlights of our trip.
LAKE CLARK NATIONAL BEAR VIEWING
We took an hour-long flight-seeing tour from Anchorage to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The pilot landed at Redoubt Mountain Lodge located on the incredible blue Crescent Lake where we spend the day. Our bear watching began in a covered pontoon boat to lakeside areas accompanied with a guide. We saw bears in search of wild Alaska salmon, pouncing on them, wading through water and some of the scenic landscape and wildlife, took pictures and enjoyed the cruise around the lake. See my post Alaska Videos for the videos
Redoubt Mountain Lodge is in a remote area accessible only by plane. Views of the majestic wilderness and the glacier at the end of the lake more than compensated for leaving the civilization behind. Lunch served was freshly caught salmon and cooked there, rice, salad, & cookies. It was an Alaska experience of a lifetime.
DENALI FLYER EXPERIENCE
The beauty of Denali is unimaginable until you experience flying next to it. It gives a very different perspective than seeing it from the ground. Its height, glaciers, canyon walls and the different peaks was such a magnificent experience. It was fun to loop around them and learn about the landmarks. We had booked with K2 aviation and they had to reschedule the time to later in the day because of weather. See my post Alaska Videos for the videos. With the weather clearing up, the views were incredible and the whole flight seeing experience is one not be missed.
TUNDRA WILDERNESS TOUR
Took the 8-hour wilderness tour which goes about 50 miles into the park. Saw sheep, bears and caribou. The bears were far away, only able to see thru the magnifying system the bus driver used. it really is one of the best ways to see the park. The buses used for the tour were basically school buses and aren’t the most comfortable. I would recommend taking your own lunch as their snack box just has very few snacks.
RESURRECTION BAY WITH LUNCH ON FOX ISLAND
Tour was eight-and a half-hour wildlife and glacier cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park and included a stop at Fox Island for lunch. Saw some wildlife and a tidewater glacier on the way. The cruise travels around 120 miles round-trip. The boat trip was comfortable but the food was disappointing. There was nothing much on the Fox island to do. Would skip this if I were to go again.
ANCHORAGE HERITAGE CENTER
A great place to learn about the tribes and native Alaskan culture. Various buildings re-created some of native Alaskan structures and the guides there described the life-style of their ancestral group. Indoors there was a native dance performance and some people demonstrated native Alaskan games.
ALASKA ZOO, ANCHORAGE
This small zoo displays animals who are native to Alaska and who have been rescued and are not able to be released into the wild. We spend around 4 hours here and got to see black and brown Bears, Moose, Coyotes, Siberian Tiger, many birds, Deers, Cheetah, Mountain Goats, and many more. Highlight was the polar bear. They had plaques telling about the animal – it was fun and informative learning about them. The zoo operates a free shuttle to and from downtown.
Alaska is definitely a dream come true. If you are a nature-lover like we are, then Alaska is sure to impress.