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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Unforgettable Alaska: Exploring Adventures Closer to Home

Are you an active traveler seeking an unforgettable vacation experience closer to home? Look no further than Alaska, the northernmost state in the US, where you can immerse yourself in the rugged natural beauty of snow-capped mountains, sprawling glaciers, and abundant wildlife. Alaska's vastness and diversity provide a unique opportunity to experience a one-of-a-kind vacation that will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and connected to nature.

Read on to learn about the best time to visit Alaska and its most popular attractions, including Denali National Park, Glacier Bay, and the Kenai Peninsula. I will also highlight adventure activities, such as sea kayaking, hiking on glaciers, salmon fishing, dogsledding, and helicopter sightseeing that are available to travelers looking to experience the most of Alaska's wilderness.

Best Time to Visit Alaska

Alaska's climate and weather patterns are as extreme as its landscape. Winter temperatures can reach as low as -50°F, while summer days offer 24 hours of daylight. To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to travel to Alaska during the summer months of June to August when the weather is milder, and the days are longer. This time of year offers a wide range of outdoor activities to choose from, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and glacier exploration. The peak tourist season is in July, so plan accordingly if you prefer to avoid the crowds.

Flightseeing over Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of Alaska's most popular attractions, located in the center of the state. It covers six million acres of pristine wilderness and is home to the highest peak in North America, Mount Denali which towers over the surrounding landscape at 20,310 feet. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, wildlife watching, and ranger-led tours. To truly experience the grandeur of the park, consider a flightseeing.

One of the best ways to experience Denali is by air, soaring hundreds of feet over the diverse landscape. Take in everything from rolling meadows and fields of flowers to jagged peaks and glaciers. If you do take to the skies, keep your eyes peeled for moose, wolves, and Dall sheep.

Fancy an adventure? Your trained bush pilot can gently land on a glacier, in a meadow, or riverside for a picnic, giving you anything from an impromptu fishing trip to a private hiking experience.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay is another must-see destination in Alaska, located in the southeastern part of the state. It is home to 16 glaciers, including the massive Margerie Glacier, which stretches for 21 miles. Visitors can take a guided tour by boat or kayak to witness the beauty of these natural wonders up close. Wildlife is also abundant in this area, with opportunities to see humpback whales, sea otters, and bald eagles.

Cruising the Kenai Fjords

The Kenai Peninsula offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, with its snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear rivers, and expansive glaciers. Salmon fishing is a popular pastime, with the Kenai River being home to some of the largest salmon in the world. Visitors can also explore the area on foot by hiking the famous trails of the Kenai Mountains. Helicopter sightseeing tours are also available, providing a bird's eye view of Alaska's majestic mountains and glaciers.

For a more unique experience, consider kayaking in Resurrection Bay, where you can witness the majesty of glaciers up close. Rising from the water like something out of a science fiction movie, the tall moss-covered fjords and narrow rocky outcrops dot the waterways of the Kenai Fjords National Park. This national park contains the Harding Icefield, its outflowing glaciers, as well as coastal fjords and islands. Home to animals on land and sea, visitors to this region may spot black or brown bears, moose, gray wolf, or even porcupine.

Touring this region by boat is truly magnificent and provides visitors with a unique vantage point with which to explore Alaska. During a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords, passengers may spot seals, Steller sea lions, orca, gray whales, humpback whales, or even harbor porpoise. If visitors are really lucky, they’ll get to witness glaciers calving, as pieces of ice crumble from the massive glaciers into the frigid waters below.

Dogsledding Across an Icefield

Dogsledding is embedded deep in Alaskan history, with the famed Iditarod race created to preserve and promote sled dog culture in Alaska.

Today, visitors to Alaska don’t have to compete in a grueling race across the great state, they can simply board a helicopter and touch down on the Juneau Icefield, where a team of friendly pups will be waiting. Expect kisses, cuddles, and an enthusiastic jaunt across the ice field by a team of friendly (and furry) locals. This is an experience you (and any young travelers) will never forget.

Hiking on Glaciers

Hiking on glaciers is an adventure activity that is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. Guided tours are available that take you through stunning ice formations, crevasses, and caves. One of the most popular glacier hikes is the Mendenhall Glacier Trek, which is located near Juneau. This five-hour tour takes you across the glacier's surface, allowing you to experience breathtaking views and unbeatable photo opportunities.

Luxury Accommodations in the Wilderness

If luxury accommodations are what you seek, Alaska has plenty to offer. The Alyeska Resort in Girdwood is a five-star hotel that boasts stunning views of the Chugach Mountains and offers a range of amenities, including a spa, fine dining, and skiing. You may prefer a floating boutique hotel, a small luxury cruise ship, for your Alaskan adventure.

Accessible only by helicopter, Sheldon Chalet is the only five-star hotel inside of Denali, resting on the magnificent Ruth Glacier, having been grandfathered into the spot by Don Sheldon, who built a small outpost in the 1950s. It’s come a long way since then, and what began as a homesteading project turned into a family’s labor of love, with his ancestors opening up a five-room luxury property at 6,000 ft of elevation.

There’s no Wifi and no cell service. What there is, however, is gourmet food courtesy of Chef Dave Thornhill, who has cooked for the likes of Barack Obama, Justin Timberlake, and Neil Young. There’s also the mind-blowing Aurora Borealis, delivering guests a nightly show hosted by Mother Nature herself. If that’s not enough, guests can enjoy mini mountaineering ropes courses, trek across the glacier, go sledding or snowshoeing, or warm up in the sauna.

Rich Cultural History

Alaska's rich cultural history is also a significant draw for many travelers. The state is home to 11 indigenous cultures, each with its unique traditions and customs. The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage offers visitors a chance to learn about these cultures through exhibits, performances, and hands-on experiences.

Alaska is a destination like no other, offering a range of activities and experiences that cater to active travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable vacation closer to home. From the stunning natural beauty of Denali National Park and Glacier Bay to the outdoor adventures of the Kenai Peninsula, there is something for everyone in Alaska.

Let's get started planning your vacation! Reserve your complimentary consultation call with me to begin!

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