The Ultimate Guide ToAlaska National Parks By Car
Here are some recommendations of where and how to spend your time in Alaska.
Whether it’s whitewater rafting in Denali National Park or taking in the views from a float plane, there is plenty of adventure to be found in Alaska. Take a look at some of them here.
1 . Get on the water.
The state is full of whitewater, and Denali State Park is one of the easiest places to access it. The north-flowing, glacier-fed Nenana River parallels the Parks Road by the national recreation area entrance, and providers typically run two trips on it: the mellow, scenic McKinley Run, and the quicker Canyon Run, including several class III and IV rapids. You can raft the Canyon with Denali Raft Adventures ($89, 2 hours) — you’ll appreciate the supplied drysuit.
Fishing is usually another popular on-the-water activity. There are salmon in the streams, trout in the lakes, and monster halibut and cod out at ocean.
A wildife/glacier-viewing day cruise out of Seward is also enjoyable. The Ak Native-owned Kenai Fjords Tours offers a few different routes, from four to nine hours. You’re prone to see sea otters, puffins, bald eagles, seals, sea elephants, whales and maybe even a bear, along with the calving glaciers, rookery destinations, and shoreline highs of Resurrection Bay.
Rafting the Nenana River
Denali Raft Adventures
Kenai Fjords Tours
2. Hike with a guideline.
Alaska is a land of backcountry, settled by folks who hiked out, discovered a piece of ground that looked good and built a family cabin on it. You can get a feeling of the vastness of the land by going on your own backcountry trek. Denali is an excellent place for it — the National Park covers more than two million hectares and has relatively few established trails. You will find endless opportunities pertaining to shorter hikes in southcentral and interior Alaska as well.
Regardless of how long you’re on the trail, it’s all set with a guide. Using a company like Alaska Nature Guides, you will be led with a local, someone who blazed their own trail and made a home in the bush. Their insights about the land, its history and its particular flora and fauna will add layers of meaning to a hike you won’t obtain otherwise.
ANG is definitely one of few businesses with Gold Level Certification in the experience Green Alaska plan, which recognizes all of them as an industry leader in environmentally and culturally sustainable practices. They run led hikes in Denali State Park (east of and next to the National Park), as well as around Talkeetna Lakes Park, simply outside of town.
View of Denali Country wide Park
View of Denali National Recreation area
Alaska Nature Guides
Experience Green Alaska
3. Fly to the mountains; climb if you can.
The Alaska Range defines the topography from the state, a crescent spine that figure from the southeastern boundary with Canada, up to just south of Fairbanks, and down again to the sea on the mouth of Cook Inlet. The section most people know and visit, though, may be the area surrounding Denali, North America’s tallest peak at six, 193. 5 meters, and its two neighbours, Foraker (5, 303. 5 meters) and Hunter (4, 256. 5 meters).
Getting the view can be nice; one of the best places to do so is in the back deck part of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. But you get a completely different perspective once you’re actually in the mountains, standing on a glacier, looking up and around at a jagged world of white. To do that, you need a plane.
A handful of companies run “flightseeing” excursions out of Talkeetna, K2 Aviation being the biggest. It’s also possible to journey in from the Denali area. Whoever you fly with, subscribe to a glacier landing for the full effect.
This is also how climbers access the mountains. For information on climbing, check the National Park’s mountaineering resource page.
A drift plane in Ak
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Denali National Recreation area Mountaineering Resource Page
4. Stay in a boat/plane-accessed villa.
Fox Island is a stop on two Kenai Fjords day time cruises, but you can stay overnight at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Resort. The property comprises 8 cabins (each with capacity for a family of four) lined up between rocky beach and the back tidal lagoon. Package overnight remains that feature a day cruise on departure day start can be found. Kayaking and fishing trips are available at extra cost for overnighters; they’re part of the offer if you stay more than one night.
On the reverse side of the Kenai Peninsula, Tutka Gulf Lodge has an even more remote feel to it, accessed simply by water taxi in the Homer Spit or sea plane. Tutka is one of the fjords cut into the southern aspect of the larger Kachemak Bay, and the whole area features arctic peaks and Sitka spruce-covered ridges that run right into the ocean. The villa is set back on the beach opposite a small headland – you can’t see it until you’re almost on top of it. But once you’re there it’s quite expansive, with a substantial central deck (with hot tub and sauna), and pathways that connect the main lodge building and six luxury cabins of varying size. The Eagle’s Nest Chalet (sleeps five) most likely has the best view.
Rates start $1, 300 per night time and include three chef-prepared meals a day, a one-hour massage, wine tastings, yoga, and pretty much any led activity you can think of – kayaking, hiking to glaciers, mountain cycling, local fishing and boat trips, character walks, and cooking food classes.