Step By StepAlaska Trip From San Francisco
Here are a few recommendations of where and how to spend your time in Alaska.
Whether it’s whitewater rafting in Denali National Park or taking in the sights from a float plane, there is plenty of adventure to be found in Alaska. Take a look at a few of them here.
1 . Can get on the water.
The state is full of whitewater, and Denali Country wide Park is one of the simplest places to access it. The north-flowing, glacier-fed Nenana River parallels the Parks Freeway by the national park entrance, and workers typically run two trips on it: the mellow, scenic McKinley Run, and the faster Canyon Run, which includes 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 another popular on-the-water activity. There are salmon in the streams, trout in the lakes, and creature halibut and cod out at sea.
A wildife/glacier-viewing day time cruise out of Seward is also enjoyable. The Alaska Native-owned Kenai Fjords Tours offers a couple of different routes, from four to nine hours. You’re more likely to see sea otters, puffins, bald silver eagles, seals, sea elephants, whales and maybe even a bear, along with the calving glaciers, rookery island destinations, and shoreline peaks of Resurrection Bay.
Rafting the Nenana River
Denali Raft Adventures
Kenai Fjords Tours
2. Hike with a guidebook.
Alaska is a land of backcountry, settled by folks who hiked out, found a piece of ground that looked good and built a family vacation 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. There are endless opportunities to get shorter hikes in southcentral and interior Alaska as well.
Regardless of how long you’re in the trail, it’s all set with a guide. Using a company like Ak Nature Guides, you’ll be led by a local, someone who blazed their own path and made a home in the bush. Their ideas about the land, its history and its particular flora and fauna will add layers of meaning to a hike you won’t get otherwise.
ANG can be one of few companies with Gold Level Certification in the experience Green Alaska system, which recognizes 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, just outside of town.
View of Denali National Park
View of Denali National Recreation area
Ak Nature Guides
Adventure Green Alaska
3. Fly to the mountains; climb if you can.
The Alaska Range specifies the topography from the state, a crescent spine that figure from the southeastern border with Canada, up to just south of Fairbanks, and back down to the sea on the mouth of Make 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 is usually nice; one of the best places to do so is from the back deck area 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 fly in from the Denali area. Whoever you fly with, sign up for a glacier getting for the full effect.
This is also how climbers access the mountains. For information on climbing, check the Country wide Park’s mountaineering resource page.
A float plane in Alaska
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
K2 Modern aviation
Denali National Recreation area Mountaineering Resource Web page
4. Stay at a boat/plane-accessed hotel.
Fox Island is a stop on two Kenai Fjords day cruises, but you can stay overnight at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Villa. The property comprises 8 cabins (each with capacity for a family of four) lined up involving the rocky beach as well as the back tidal lagoon. Package overnight remains that feature a time cruise on departure day start can be found. Kayaking and fishing trips are available at extra cost for overnighters; they’re part of the deal if you stay more than one night.
On the contrary side of the Kenai Peninsula, Tutka Bay 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 part of the larger Kachemak Bay, and the entire area features cold peaks and Sitka spruce-covered ridges that run right into the ocean. The lodge is set back on the beach opposite a little 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 hotel building and six luxury cabins of varying size. The Eagle’s Nest Chalet (sleeps five) probably 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, nature walks, and food preparation classes.