Encompassing 1,047 square miles (2,711 square kilometers), the Kenai Fjords National Park is named after the many glacial-carved fjords, or glacial valleys that sit below sea level. These fjords run down the mountains and into the iconic Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States with 40 glaciers flowing into it.
There are many ways to experience the park’s beauty, like taking an aerial tour, kayaking on the fjords, hiking to the top of the Harding Icefield Trail or exploring the trails around Exit Glacier. You can also fish for salmon and Dolly Varden within the park’s backcountry. For those interested in wildlife spotting, the parks icy waters and dense woodland are home to a number of creatures like mountain goats, black bears, bald eagles, Steller sea lions, puffins, Dall's porpoises, and humpback and orca whales.
At more than 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares), Denali National Park is a breathtaking wilderness area, which includes North America’s highest mountain. A single road curves 92 miles (148 kilometers) through the heart of the park, leading to off-trail hiking opportunities, abundant wildlife, and stunning tundra panoramas.
Wildlife in Denali National Park, including mammals such as marmot and moose, is easy to spot. Caribou, wolves, and brown bears are crowd favorites. The park is also well known for its bird population, especially during late spring and summer. Birdwatchers may find waxwings, Arctic Warblers, and the majestic tundra swan. Predatory birds include a variety of hawks, owls, and the striking golden eagle. Ten species of fish, including trout, salmon, and arctic grayling share the waters of the park.
Encompassing 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States. Originally the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, a project of Theodore Roosevelt started in 1902, the park was developed and renamed in 1908 to pay homage to the Tongass Clan of the Tlingit Indians. Visitors to Tongass National Forest have an enormous array of activities and experiences to choose from: bird-watching, trekking, fishing (there are five species of salmon here, among other fish), camping, visiting glaciers, lake canoeing, off-roading and just relishing pure fresh air and pristine natural beauty. In fact, there are 17,000 miles (27,359 kilometers) of lakes, creeks and rivers to enjoy within the forest. Wildlife is also prevalent, with chances to view otters, brown and black bears, wolves, eagles and Sitka black-tailed deer.
Taking a ride on the narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad is a fun way to see spectacular historic scenery from a train inching up steep tracks that were carved out of the side of the mountains. A number of routes take you through White Pass, which travels from Alaska to Canada on historic trains.
You begin your journey on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway. The summit excursion takes you 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Skagway to the White Pass Summit, 2,865 feet (873 meters) high. Another trip takes you up to the summit, then down to British Columbia. The historic cars are more than 100 years old, and you’ll definitely get a sense of how travelers in the late 19th century got around. While you’re traveling you’ll see breathtaking mountain and forest vistas – you may even see a bear or caribou frolicking about.
The Misty Fjords National Monument encompasses 3,594 square miles (5,783 square kilometers) of wilderness and lies between two impressive fjords - Behm Canal (117 mi/188 km long) and Portland Canal (72 mi/115 km long). The two natural canals give the preserve its extraordinarily deep and long fjords with sheer granite walls that rise thousands of feet/meters out of the water. Misty Fjords is well named; annual rainfall is 14 feet (4 meters).
Misty Fjords National Monument draws many kayakers, who head for the smaller but equally impressive fjords of Walker Cove and Punchbowl Cove in Rudyerd Bay, off Behm Canal. Dense spruce-hemlock rainforest is the most common vegetation throughout the monument, and sea lions, harbor seals, killer whales, brown and black bears, mountain goats, moose and bald eagles can all be seen there.
Alaska's famous drive-in glacier, Mendenhall Glacier, is Juneau's most popular attraction, flowing 12 miles (19 kilometers) from its source, the Juneau Ice Field. On a sunny day it's beautiful, with blue skies and snow-capped mountains in the background. On a cloudy and drizzly afternoon, it can be even more impressive, as the ice turns shades of deep blue.
Near the face of the glacier is the visitors center, which houses various glaciology exhibits, a large relief map of the ice field, an observatory with telescopes and a theater that shows the film, Magnificent Mendenhall. Outside you'll find a salmon-viewing platform overlooking Steep Creek, as well as 6 hiking trails, including a short photo-overlook trail to a longer trek up the glacier's west side. Another trail, the East Glacier Loop trail leads through the forest for views of a waterfall near the glacier’s face. Though a little steep, it’s perfect for school-age children.
Located on the on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Resurrection Bay is a perfect example of pristine Alaskan wilderness. Littered with glistening glaciers, majestic fjords, secluded coves and small islands set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, otherworldly rock formations and dramatic fog, this is a haven for those who enjoy striking landscapes. Not only is Resurrection Bay beautiful, it’s also filled with opportunities for outdoors recreation.
Those interested in bird-watching and wildlife spotting should be on the lookout for puffins, bald eagles, Dall's Porpoises, Stellar Sea Lions, orca and Humpback Whales, harbor seals and sea otters. Additionally, the waters are popular for kayaking, sailing and flightseeing. And because Resurrection Bay never freezes, the waters are easily navigable for tours.
If you’re sailing north by cruise ship, Ketchikan Cruise Port will be your first port of call on the Alaska Marine Highway. The former salmon fishery town offers visitors a real taste of Alaska’s frontier personality.
Cruise boats dock right on the waterfront, so the attractions, bars and restaurants are just a short stroll away.
Get a feel for old-time Ketchikan by taking a walk along the Creek Street boardwalk, and shop for Alaskan souvenirs like toy moose and eagles at the port’s many shops.
Ride the cable car to a nearby hill for stellar views, visit Deer Mountain to learn about salmon hatching and eagle feeding habits, or take a scenic flight over the stunning granite cliffs of Misty Fjords National Monument.
Of course, if you’re into fly-fishing you’ll be in heaven in Ketchikan when the salmon are running. Other visitors take the opportunity to paddle a canoe, or see totem poles at the Saxman Native Village.
Arcing upwards from the waterfront at Juneau’s cruise terminal to the crest of Mt. Roberts, a ride aboard the Mt. Roberts Tramway is one of Juneau’s signature experiences.
The enclosed gondolas swing away from the dock to glide over downtown Juneau and up through the rainforest to the 1,800-foot (540m) summit of Mt. Roberts.
Panoramic views take in stunning vistas of sea and mountains, over to the Chilkat Mountains to the north, the Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island and Silver Bow Basin. Peering down, you might be lucky enough to spot marmots, deer and even a bear.
The ride ends on the top of the mountain at the Mountain House cultural center, picturesquely surrounded by Sitka pines and wildflowers. Visit the nature center to learn more about this beautiful part of the world, or follow one of the hiking trails winding away from the terminal. There’s a wheelchair-accessible trail, and a short mile-loop trail with interpretative signage.
If you’re staying in Anchorage and reading about the glaciers that are so much a part of Alaska, then head to Portage Glacier, just a little more than an hour outside of the city. Portage Glacier is truly worth the drive. Once you’re here, you can watch for huge chunks of ice to break away and crash into the lake.
Sitting inside the Chugach National Forest, Portage Glacier is breathtaking to say the least. You approach it by boat, and you’re rewarded with a stellar view of the glacier. The visitor center features a number of programs on the historical and natural wonders of the valley. A film, Voices from the Ice, provides a spectacular view of many glaciers and wildlife. The visitor center also houses exhibits demonstrating how glaciers move and gives insight into the retreat of Portage Glacier.
Meer dingen om te doen in Alaska
Extending from Washington’s Puget Sound, along the shores of British Columbia and into the Gulf of Alaska, the Inside Passage is a must-have experience when visiting Alaska. The waterway exists thanks to the many islands that reside between the North Pacific Ocean and Alaska’s coast. This allows for calmer waters, which is why many ferries and cruise ships choose to use it to transport travelers.
Featuring bays, beaches, peninsulas, fjords, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, rivers, coastal towns and over 1,000 islands, the passage is a photographer’s heaven, as well as a supremely scenic playground for adventure travelers, culture cravers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are a variety of experiences to be had along the way: visiting Native Alaskan heritage attractions; exploring Gold Rush history; glacier trekking; dog-sledding; spotting wildlife such as bald eagles, whales and bears; rainforest cycling and more. Kayaking through Glacier Bay National Park.
The Klondike is synonymous with the gold rush days of the late 19th century, when the frontier settlement of Skagway exploded from a population of just two to 20,000 in a mere 10 years.
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park protects the memory of these days, preserving the trails, towns and buildings of the gold rush era. Skagway was the gateway town to the gold of the Klondike, which lay 550 miles (885km) north, near the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in Dawson City.
The Chilkoot Trail is the most famous of the gold rush routes followed by the miners, originally created by the Tlingit people. The park also preserves the downtown Skagway Historic District and its prized collection of authentic 100-year-old wooden buildings, including the fun Mascot Saloon and historic Moore House and Cabin.
Drop into the park’s visitor center to watch the video about the area’s gold rush history and pick up information about the local trails.
The name Yukon is evocative as well as descriptive: adventure, the far north, wilderness, moose. In the vast and thinly populated Yukon Territory, where most species far outnumber humans, is a grandeur and beauty only appreciated by experience. Getting here is part of the thrill and even the roads have their own lore.
Any visit to the Yukon Territory will mean much time outdoors. Whether it’s treks into Kluane National Park, canoe expeditions down the Yukon River, or Arctic explorations in the north, it will be you and the Yukon. Yes, the summers are short, but like the explosion of wildflowers in July, they are intense, magnified under the near-constant light. Fall comes early but with its own burst of color as leaves turn shocking shades of gold and crimson. In winter, you’ll understand why so many would never leave, as the season is filled with days of utter quiet to contemplate the snowy solitude.
Fox Island -- not to be confused with the Fox Islands in the Aleutian Island chain -- is a remote island accessible from Seward by about an hour boat ride. Full of rainforests, beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, secluded coves and access to the Kenai Fjords National Park, it’s a true Alaskan paradise for those who enjoy scenic landscapes and outdoor recreation.
Kayak through the turquoise waters that surround the island watching for Stellar sea lions, whales, otters, Dall’s porpoise and seabirds. One of the top kayaking routes from Fox Island is the Fox Island Spit, which begins on the north side of the island and takes you to your choice of Humpy Cove, Thumb’s Cove or El Dorado Narrows for beautiful scenery and great wildlife spotting opportunities.
Fishing is another popular Fox Island activity, especially from mid-July through August when the waters are abundant with salmon. Sign up for a fishing trip or cast your reel right from the beach.
Encompassing 4.9 million acres (20,000 square kilometers), the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is America’s largest marine refuge, spread out along most of Alaska’s 47,300 miles (76,122 kilometers) of coastline.
It is home to a range of ecosystems, wildlife species and experiences as well as a wide range of contrasting landscapes, some of which include beaches, tundra, mountains, rainforests, valleys, cliffs, lakes and volcanoes. It’s also a bird-watchers paradise, known for its 40 million seabirds representing 30 species. The Pribilof Islands are said to be the best place to see birdlife, although the wildlife refuge encompasses over 2,500 islands, rocks, reefs, spires, islets, waters and headlands.
Visitors to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge can explore the volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain, the tiny islands, rainforests and and majestic fjords of the Gulf of Alaska.
Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, Exit Glacier is the only section of the park accessible by road. The glacier itself is a striking cool blue sheet of ice that comes from the Harding Icefield, and is near to an array of landscapes like rainforest, barren rock, alpine meadows and cottonwood forest for a striking scene. In this area you’ll be able to enjoy hiking trails and ranger-guided walks with the opportunity to get extremely close to an active glacier. It’s a place where people go to enjoy Alaska’s scenic beauty and learn more about how glaciers shape the landscape and contribute to the ecosystem.
Exit Glacier is a year-round attraction, with the warmer months being popular with hikers and winter being the perfect time for snowmobiling, dog sledding and cross-country skiing. To get to the glacier many people walk from the Nature Center, from which many trails begin.
Extending 125 miles (201 kilometers) from Seward to Anchorage, the Seward Highway runs through scenic areas like the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm and Kenai Mountains. In fact, in 1989 the Seward Highway was declared a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Forest Service, meaning it’s a destination all on its own.
What’s really fascinating about the drive is that as you continue along the road the landscape completely changes. While at one point you might be immersed in rugged peaks and alpine meadows at another you may find yourself enjoying views of majestic fjords, retreating glaciers and mirror lakes. One could easily do the drive in a few hours; however, it’s recommended to spend at least three days exploring the route as there are a range of experiences to have along the way.
The thunderous splash of calving glaciers is a common sound in Glacier Bay National Park. Located on the border between Alaska and Canada, the massive park contains a huge number of glaciers, which descend from high snow capped mountains into the bay to create spectacular displays of ice and iceberg formation.
And that’s only part of experiencing the scenic, natural, and historic wonders of Glacier Bay National Park. Outdoor enthusiasts will find a number of exciting activities in the park, including backpacking, birding, camping, fishing, hiking, photography, white-water rafting, and wildlife watching.
Glacier Bay National Park also includes dramatic range of plant communities from rocky terrain recently covered by ice to lush temperate rainforest, and a large variety of animals, including brown and black bears, mountain goats, seals, and eagles. You may even spot whales breaching and, of course, the ever popular falling glaciers.
The gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and the starting point of the Iditarod Trail, the small town of Seward lies about 125 miles (200 km) south of Anchorage. The best way to experience this Alaskan jewel and its majestic landscape is by boat – take a whale-watching tour or glacier cruise to get the full effect of Resurrection Bay, its surrounding mountains and the Exit Glacier.
If your cruise is ending in Seward, a shore excursion that combines transportation to the Anchorage airport with a tour to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a great way to make the most of your time and see some of Alaska’s famed wildlife.
How to get to Seward
Cruises dock a couple of miles north of the downtown area. A shuttle runs from the cruise dock to the tour boat area. If you’re staying in town, walk from the cruise dock or take one of the town’s few cabs. Once you’re downtown, it’s a very walkable area.
Take a cab from the port to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This is a good place to start your day in port, as it’s much more than a museum. Across the center’s 26 acres, you can watch artists work, see a native dance performance and check out the replica villages. Enjoy a walk around the lake and discover what life was like in native Alaskan cultures.
Grab a taxi back to downtown and the Anchorage Museum (or take the shuttle that runs between the two properties). Admire the displays of Alaskan paintings and learn about the state’s long history. When you’ve had your fill of Alaskan culture, head to the Anchorage Zoo (shuttles run from downtown). Explore the zoo’s collection of northern animals, including caribou, moose and bears, of course. When you’re ready to rest your legs, enjoy a picnic in Valley of the Moon Park.
Thirty minutes outside of Anchorage, the Alaska Zoo offers all the adventures of an Alaskan wildlife safari with the safety and comfortable atmosphere of a modern zoo. A relatively small zoo by some standards, people enjoy the intimate opportunity to see polar bears, grizzly bears, owls, moose calves and arctic foxes frolic in the sun.
These arctic and sub-arctic animals on display are here by no coincidence. The Alaska Zoo has provided a home for orphaned, injured and captive-born animals for more than four decades. They pride themselves on being a safe-haven for some of the rarest and most endangered animals on Earth, and the lucky visitor is blessed with a chance at a close encounter in this well-loved zoo.
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