// This is a guest post by Natalie. I met her at a conference last year and was intrigued by her adventure company in Alaska. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to make my way to Alaska YET but I asked her to put together a post about this incredible country that is on my bucket list!
When I tell people that I lead trips in Alaska, they consistently hug themselves and give a dramatic shiver. They ask me why I would want to focus my tour company around this place that is so cold. But, they couldn’t be any further from the truth about the Alaskan summers. Sure, winters can be unbearably cold and the roads choked with great amounts of snow, but most people find time away by heading to Hawaii or Washington (the state.)
It’s wintertime throughout the Northern hemisphere at the moment and I have no intention of mentioning snow or cold again. We’re here to discuss the amazing Alaskan summers that are filled with 20-hour days of sunshine, trailblazing through pristine wilderness, kayaking along the coastline, and fishing for huge king salmon or halibut. Better know to the locals as “Greatland” or “The Last Frontier.”
Anchorage is a lively city that houses almost 50% of the state’s 730,000 people. (Commonly it is mistaken for the capital of Alaska, but that would be Juneau.) Throughout the summer there are multiple festivals and plenty of nightly live music. Keep in mind that this city is situated right in the heart of the wilderness, where over 1,000 moose, 250 black bears, and 100 grizzly bears also call it home. A short walk from the main drag of downtown, you’ll whip out your fishing pole to catch some of the beautiful salmon swimming up Ship Creek. Bike the Coastal Trail along the Turnagain Arm to watch the beautiful beluga chasing after the schools of salmon or see one of the largest bore tides in the world. I’d be doing Anchorage a huge disservice if I didn’t mention the wonderful food; obviously the seafood is world class along with Humpy’s, Glacier Brewhouse, Mooses’s Tooth, and Ginger.
Now, I’ve told you about Anchorage, let’s dive into some of my favorite adventures in Alaska:
[dropcap size=small]1[/dropcap] The town of Homer is perfectly situated on Kachemak Bay surrounded by old volcanoes, some of which are still active. When camping on the end of the spit you’re presented with an unobstructed view of a gorgeous sunset. Don’t forget to enter yourself in the Homer Jackpot Derby with some World Class Halibut Fishing. You too could catch a 277 lb. Halibut worth over $40,000!! Can’t win if you don’t try.
[dropcap size=small]2[/dropcap]Valdez is the site of some of the best sea kayaking Alaska has to offer. Most notably known for the disaster that devastated the ecosystem in 1989, the area has returned to normal where the Columbia glacier and surrounding waters are filled with towering icebergs. Slip on your skirt and paddle around these behemoth 1,000-year-old chunks of frozen water. You’ll meander through the different bays only accessible by kayak, which more often than not, you’ll spot rafts of sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, bears and, quite often, whales!
[dropcap size=small]3[/dropcap]Taking the wildlife cruise just outside of Seward in Resurrection Bay is a great way to learn about the rich history of the bay while viewing the jagged cliffs, seabirds, marine wildlife and alpine glaciers, including the magnificent Bear Glacier. Taking the 6-hour National Park tour provides all the above-mentioned perks along with getting up-close and personal with a calving glacier. Hopefully, you catch the perfect shot of a huge chunk of ice come crashing down into the water below. Make sure you put your camera on multi-frame or video because it happens fast.
[dropcap size=small]4[/dropcap]When you fish the Kenai or Copper rivers for salmon, you better be ready for a fight with a fish potentially weighing up to 98 pounds! Kings, silvers, pinks, and sockeye are all available and ready to catch. Some places claim that fishermen have walked away with over 700 fish in a day. You could make lots of friends, but you’ll need a massive grill.
[dropcap size=small]5[/dropcap]There’s nothing like getting out in the wilderness and hopping on a trail for a hike. But when was the last time you had to hike where there were no paths and each choice you make most likely was a route someone else hasn’t taken before. Trailblazing through a few of Denali National Park’s six million acres of wild land is an experience adventurers from around the world come to participate in each year. Hop on one of the park’s shuttle buses and get off wherever you desire creating a chance encounter with its varied wildlife.
[dropcap size=small]6[/dropcap]Hop in a 7-seater plane for a flight over and around the 20,328′ (6,196 m) Mt. McKinley for a unique encounter with the highest peak in North America that is only visible 20% of the year. But this flight isn’t just about Mt. McKinley, you also get an amazing perspective of the national park along with viewing the surrounding mountain ranges and the 100s of glaciers clinging precariously to their host. If you’re so inclined, you can even add a glacier landing to your flight. You might even have a chance encounter with the climbers at base camp waiting for their opportunity to summit this majestic mountain.
[dropcap size=small]7[/dropcap]Even in a state famous for its size, Wrangell/St. Elias National Park stands out. It is by far the largest of the praks in the US – almost six times the size of Yellowstone. You fly over it and see mountains beyond mountains, glaciers after glaciers, and rivers upon rivers. The Root Glacier offers the perfect venue for people of all ages and skill levels to participate in the exciting and rewarding sport of ice climbing. A full day choked full of serene blue pools, rushing waterfalls, roaring moulins, and learning the different climbing techniques from novice to expert.
[dropcap size=small]8[/dropcap]Arriving at the Maclaren Lodge, you’ll pack up your gear and load up the jet boat to take a ride eight miles up river to our bush camp. The camp is situated along the Maclaren River and is within walking distance of the Maclaren Glacier. Experience the wilderness in its entire splendor. Camping with minimal amenities and sitting around the campfire with more stars than you can fathom. The following day you’ll canoe back down the river to the lodge.
[dropcap size=small]9[/dropcap]Most everyone who comes to Alaska wants to see a bear, but not just any bear. The coastal brown bear or Kodiak, commonly mistaken as a grizzly, rivals the size of polar bears weighing up to 635 kg. So, if you want a guaranteed sighting of these amazing creatures, then the bear viewing at Brooks River Falls in Katmai National Park is the place to venture. If you’ve ever watched the bears on BBC or Discovery, this is the day trip that will blow your mind watching the bears standing at the falls’ edge catching salmon mid-air and fighting each other to get the best fishing spot.
So, now you’re wondering how you can do all of these things in an affordable and efficient way, yet spending enough time in each locale to feel you’ve had a full adventure on your holiday.
That’s where Infinite Adventures can accommodate your time away from the daily grind. Take a yellow school bus, remodel it into an overland vehicle and bring together a small group of adventure travelers to explore the wilderness of Alaska. With tour leading experience throughout the world, we know what sights and experiences you’re looking forward to, as well as the ones that haven’t even crossed your mind. Our focus is allowing adventure travelers to experience the wonders that the Alaskan wilderness and melting pot of cultures have to offer. Overlanding offers active and independent travelers to truly invest in the success of the adventure by getting involved in a group oriented atmosphere.
The Alaskan Salmon Run Adventure is a 17-day overland adventure that brings together a maximum of 18 passengers from throughout the world. The Salmon Run adventure is focused on the highlights of Alaska with optional activities of halibut/salmon fishing, sea kayaking, ice climbing, glacier walks, rafting, horseback riding and scenic flights. View glaciers and icebergs from near or from afar, trail blaze through the wilds and maybe even come face-to-face with a grizzly! This is the adventure your adrenaline has been waiting for you to do.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, and often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”
– Mark Jenkins