Explore Alaska

Explore Alaska
From Gold Rushes to Dog Sled races, Alaska is an expansive, rugged land waiting for the outdoor adventurer to discover her beauty. The state offers so much in terms of wildlife viewing- from bears, to mountain goat, moose, polar bears, penguins, and to bald eagles. And half the adventure is just getting to the locations to view them, but for those not ready rough the outdoors Alaska is also a popular destination for cruise line travellers. Most cruises venture up the Inside Passage for a glimpse of the receding glaciers, but that’s not all there is to explore. There are many towns that dot the Alaskan coast, all with unique characteristics and history. And contrary to popular belief, the summers are warm and teeming with colourful fauna.
Aurora Borealis
Mendenhall Glacier Caves
Creek Street, Ketchikan

Unique Things to See and Do in Whistler

  • Anan Wildlife Observatory and watch the bears fee
  • Check out the Totem poles
  • Denali National Park
  • Kayak near glaciers
  • Hike in protected lands near Tutka Bay Lodge
  • Hike Mt Mckinley – the highest peak in N.A
  • Glacier Bay National Park – humpbacks, dolphins. waterfalls
  • Museum of the North – Fairbanks, Eskimo carvings, gold, mammoths
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
  • Mendenhall Glacier – 12 miles long
  • Aurora Borealis – northern lights

Activities in Alaska

Winter time

  • Skiing (alpine and cross-country)
  • Snowboarding
  • Dog Sledding
  • Ice Fishing
  • Northern Lights
  • Heli-skiing
  • Snowmobiling

Summertime

  • Halibut fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking & Rafting
  • Fishing period! (Kodiak Island)
  • Glacier Hiking
  • Day cruises
  • ATVing

Alaska’s biggest and most popular cities to visit

Anchorage
Is Alaska’s largest city situated between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1915, Anchorage became the hub spot for Alaska’s railway lines, highways, and air transport. It’s a beautiful city with plenty of city amenities and slightly warmer climate.

Juneau (Alaska’s capital city)
A popular city to visit, Juneau is a great walking city for tourists. The city is situated between Mount Roberts and the Gastineau Channel making most resting spots picture perfect. The waterfront has plenty of activity with cruise ships coming in and out, float planes taking off and landing, and all the shops and restaurants attracting the walker-bys.

Fairbanks
Is Alaska’s second largest city and perfect gateway city to the Arctic and the interior. Some of the main attractions here include: Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For travelers looking for the Northern Lights, this is a perfect spot, plus you can brush up on your gold rush history at the Pioneer Park.

Nome
This is a fascinating area, only accessible by land or sea, but has an extensive road system once you’re there. It is also the ending spot for the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The surrounding areas include coastal plains and tundra which are visually spectacular. The word “tundra” comes from the  oddity of no trees, long winters, and short summers. For most traveler, seeing this type ecosystem is a once in a lifetime venture.

Ketchikan
This is a quaint town once known as the “Canned Salmon Capital of the World.” This area has a strong history of First Nations, and they honour it with Saxman Native Village Totem Park (most of the totems are replicas though). The popular and picturesque Creek Street has an assorted history of being the “red light district” for Alaska up until 1954 when it became illegal. The street itself is actually a boardwalk with several historic buildings now.

Did you know…?

Alaska is the only state to have coastlines on three different seas: the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Bering Sea.

Glacier Bay

Did you ALSO know…?

The state’s official sport is Dog Mushing! It used to be the primary mode of transportation prior to the highways.

Dog Sledding!
Dog Sledding!
Getting Around Alaska
This is no small feat. Alaska is wilderness haven and is largely undeveloped and completely inaccessible by roads, which means access into some areas can only be done by float plane. Around Anchorage the highway system is good but it is not extensive. The highways are mainly used during the warmer months, May through September.

By Cruise Ship
This is by far the most popular way to visit Alaska. The inside passage is the sliver of land that sits between Canada on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The land itself is mix of fjords, islands, and bays. The cruise lines travel between Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Glacier Bay.

There are numerous cruise lines that service the inside passage: Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and more. If big ships aren’t your idea of good time, you can go on smaller expeditions. Some of the companies have staff that are scuba diving specialists, and naturalists, or fishing experts. These types of boats range in their capacity from 10 passenger boats to 80 passengers.

By Ferry
Only in Alaska do you hear of a Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System! The locals call it the “Blue Canoes” and they offer service all year round. There are a lot of small communities within Alaska, so this a great to way see a couple. Essentially, you can plan out a trip of hopping on and off the ferry, and staying in several to the communities. These ferries are not like Vegas-type cruises, and meals aren’t provided so double the length of the trip and plan accordingly. If you’re really adventurous you could start your trip in Bellingham and travel all the way out to Dutch Harbour, 900 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The vessel amenities are minimal. They offer cabins, but not daily cleaning other than trash removal. If you need linens you can pick them from the services counter. Vessels don’t have ship doctors, only personnel with First Aid. There’s power onboard but they don’t recommend using computers in case of surges. They do have cafeterias, vending machines, and even serve alcohol on some ships. Double check what’s offered on your particular ship.

By Plane
By far a beautiful way to take in the scenery. In order to access some remote areas, the only way to go is by float plane, of which they will either land on water or ice (using skis!). Most of these flights are by charter only, and you pay for the hour for the whole plane. It covers the flight there and back for pilot.

The flight option is to fly with Alaskan airlines, the state’s main airline. They offer service to 20 destinations including more remote areas like Nome or Prudhoe Bay.

By Train
Okay. So there are only two rail lines servicing Alaska, which are not that extensive, but the scenery is stunningly spectacular! Alaska’s White Pass & Yukon Route railway will show you waterfalls, glaciers, meadows, quite possibly wildlife. Not only is it breath taking for its views, it can also reach 3000 feet up with some hair raising curves!

By Car
Driving offers some flexibility, but for those unfamiliar with the great outdoors this might not be your best option. Plus it takes a lot more time to get anywhere, since Alaska is big place. There are not a lot of service stations, so you need to bring some extras, like a spare tire, oil, etc. If you do plan to travel this way, there are some companies that will rent out RVs, but bear in mind the fuel costs. During the summer months you can access almost all the major highways.

By Bus
This is another option for those looking for looking to see the wilderness without the expense. The bus routes offered on the major routes often join up with ferry service and cruise lines.

Best time of year to travel to Alasksa

Summer
For the average tourist, mid May to mid-September are the months for travelling. The temperatures are warmer, averaging from 10C to 21C. In the Arctic Circle, during the summer months of June and July, there are days that get 19 1/2 hours of sunlight, and experience twilight hours for the rest! Something most people don’t get to experience. The summer months are drier but that also means the bugs are out, and if you’re hiking…they are really bad. If you’re taking a cruise to Alaska, the season runs from end of April to middle September.

Winter
Winters are harsh in the north, and some of the most beautiful months too. The Northern Lights are the biggest draw, along with the Yukon sled dog race. When travelling around in the winter, the roads can disappear so an easier way around is by ferry, in which they operate all year round.

Weather in Alaska

This is the most important consideration when packing for Alaska; what part of the state are you traveling to, and what is the most appropriate type of clothing to take? First and foremost, in any colder climate, the key is to layer up. Second, Alaskans are informal in their dressing attire and therefore casual and comfortable is best.

Spring: March – June, melt down starts in March
Summer: June – August, the warmest months
Fall: August to the beginning of October. Leaves can fall within a day or two
Winter: October – March, with Jan and Feb being the coldest months

Far North: Summer: -2C to 7C, Winter range: -22C to -4C
Inside Passage: Summer: 7C to 18C, Winter range: -6C to 12C
Interior: Summer: 9C to 22C, Winter range: -27C to 12C
Southcentral: Summer: 9C to 18C, Winter range: -13C to 13C
Southwest: Summer: 5C to 15C, Winter range: -17C to 11C

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