Have you ever been to someplace where you weren’t really sure what to do and what not to do? If you have, then you have turned to the right blog post which includes things to do in Alaska. Our family went on a one week trip to Alaska, and we really enjoyed the fun and scenic land. I hope you do too.
On our first day, we went to the airport with all our bags. When packing, make sure to bring a lot of extra layers to keep warm. Also, bring a thick, waterproof jacket to wear as an overcoat. Pack mosquito repellent and don’t leave your hiking shoes and camera behind. Anyways, we had boarded the plane and were ready for take off. It was a regular plane ride on the Delta Airline. Soon, we reached the Seattle airport and had minutes left to board the next flight. It was a fun experience. We were running through the airport, wanting not to miss the next Delta airline flight to Anchorage, Alaska. The flight to Anchorage was a little over three hours, and the best part was that there was a TV screen and plenty of snacks. In no time at all, we had reached Anchorage, Alaska and were waiting to get off the plane. The airport was amazing! Inside, not only were there numerous shops, but also replicas of animals such as bears, moose, and musk ox. The airport includes the largest moose in the world! We rented a cross between a regular car and an SUV at Enterprise, a car rental place in the airport. Soon after, we were off to spend the night at a hotel, and a good night’s sleep was required. Alaska is called “the land of the midnight sun” because the sun only sets at around 12 in the night.
After we had woken up, we immediately headed to the car and out on the road as soon as we were up and ready. We were going to Whittier, where Prince William Sound was located. The drive there was incredibly beautiful. You will be able to see the land, water, and mountains, meet. To get to Whittier, you need to go through the Whittier Tunnel, a 2.5 mile tunnel to get to Whittier and Prince William Sound. As soon as we reached Whittier, we checked in at Phillips Cruises. Phillips Cruises provided us with a hot meal, a beautiful tour of the glaciers and waterfalls at Prince William Sound, as well as a ranger guided tour. The cruise we took was the Glacier Quest cruise, a 3 hour and 45 minute cruise exploring Blackstone Bay and many animals. The other cruise option is the 26 Glacier Cruise, a 5 hour cruise where you’ll explore the Esther Passage, Surprise Glacier, and Harriman Fjord. A fjord is a deep valley of water formed because of glaciers. There are many different types of glaciers but the main three are piedmont glaciers, alpine glaciers, and tidewater glaciers. Piedmont glaciers rest at the foot of a mountain. Alpine glaciers hand from mountain sides while tidewater glaciers are valley glaciers that reach far off into the sea. On the Glacier Quest Cruise, we had the opportunity to get close to the Blackstone glacier and Balloit glacier. This cruise was a lot of fun and was very entertaining. After the cruise, we drove to Seward. Seward is a small town close to the gulf of Alaska. At Seward, we stayed in a cabin. The whole cabin site was called Nauti Otter. There are different cabins with different names at this cabin site. There’s even a cabin called “Bald Eagle Bungalow” more like a tree house hanging to the side of a mountain! Our family stayed in the “Wolf’s Den cabin”. Even though the cabin was a little small, it was creative the way the space was used. Each cabin had its own style and theme. The cabin was rustic and cozy. The night’s sleep was peaceful.
This day, we rushed to get ready, had waffles for breakfast and we were off to Exit Glacier. The Exit Glacier area is the only area in Kenai Fjords Park accessible by road. Here we explored the trails and walked very close to this active glacier. This is a place where you can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape. There are many trails you can take, but we chose the Edge of the Glacier trail. This trail is about 1.5 miles long and leads to an up close view of the glacier. We had a cruise to take afterwards. We went on the Major Marine Tours wildlife cruise for 5 hours. There we saw sea otters, humpback whales, fin whales, bald eagles, puffins, and orca whales. We got the opportunity to encounter a rookery. A rookery is an establishment of a large group of birds. You will also be able to view islands such as Fox Island and Rugged Island. There was a lot of wildlife to see on this peaceful cruise. For dinner, we ate at Woody’s Thai Kitchen. This Thai restaurant has plenty of vegetarian options and the Thai food there is absolutely delicious. Today, we fell asleep happy and full.
Today, we were leaving the cozy town of Seward and heading to Denali, located in the center of Alaska. This day was a drive day to Denali and we spent the whole day in the car throughout the 6 to 8 hour trip. Unlike Prince William Sound, there was no water in the scenery other than small creeks and nearby streams. We took a short break at the wildlife Conservation center on the way to Denali where we saw many animals such as red foxes, moose, caribou, bears, porcupines, wolves, bison, lynx, and an injured bald eagle. During hour 4 or 5, we were able to catch glimpses of Mount Denali, the tallest peak in North America. Throughout the trip to Denali, the nature was captivating. After about hour 7, we arrived in the town of Healy, which is where we stayed because Denali was a national park, so there weren’t any hotels of cabins there. There were only campgrounds located in Denali National Park. In Healy, we stayed at Park’s Edge log cabins. The cabins were equipped with WiFi, a bathroom, and a kitchen. It was a new experience living in a log cabin.
On Day 5, we took an early 12 hour round trip shuttle bus to Kantishna, an old gold mine. On the way, we were able to get views of the tall mount Denali very early. During the trip, we saw moose, caribou, foxes, brown bears, and eye-catching scenery. We even saw a small porcupine sleeping in a tree. When going on this trip, make sure to bring plenty of food because you will be on a shuttle bus for 12 hours, so you will need food. Towards the end of our trip, we stopped at Wonder Lake, a beautiful lake filled with varying colors and shades of blue. When looking up, you could see Mount Denali in comparison to all the other nearby mountains. Denali, which is 20,310 feet tall, is the tallest mountain in North America. This mountain has the world’s largest vertical rise. Anyways, there is also a stop at Eilson center where you can learn about Denali National Park. Eilson center is known for its magnificent views of the nearby mountains. We got back at 8:40 in the night and rested to make sure that the next day went just as smoothly as this one.
This day, we went out to canoe. We went canoeing at Otto Lake, a scenic lake with ducks and peaceful waters. The canoeing experience was a lot of fun, although it was tiring. It felt adventurous since there were parts where I thought we were going to flip. Canoeing was a great experience as a family. If you don’t want to canoe, there are other options such as whitewater rafting, and kayaking. After an hour of canoeing, we went to the Denali visitor center where we learned about Denali National Park’s history and its animals. Did you know that there are two summits that make up Mount Denali? There is the South Summit and the North Summit. Of the two summits, the South Summit is taller with the height of 20,310 feet while the North Summit is 19,470 feet tall. Also, in every national park, there is a junior ranger program where a child can earn a badge if you complete a given booklet. The rest of the day was the drive to Anchorage so that we could catch the plane later to travel back home.
Today was an extraordinary day. That was because we got the opportunity to walk on top of a glacier. Before that though, we visited a musk ox farm in Palmer. We got to learn about kivuit (musk ox fur) production and the life of a musk ox for an hour. Did you know that musk oxen actually went extinct in the mid 1800s and were brought back to Alaska from Greenland in the 1900s? After, we drove to Matanuska Glacier, the largest glacier in Alaska that can be reached by vehicle. The glacier is about 27 miles long and 4 miles wide. This 2.5 million year old glacier is a must-see spot in Alaska. To climb and walk on the glacier, we booked a guided tour of Matanuska. To access the glacier, we were provided with ice bands, helmets and a tour guide. The Matanuska Glacier included different types of ice with different densities. The most dense is black ice, then blue ice, followed by regular ice. During the tour, we heard a sound from the glacier that sounded like a car door closing. This sound indicates that the glacier is calving, or melting. When exploring the Matanuska Glacier, there are murky waters which you should avoid because of the depth. There are many facts to learn when taking the tour. Also, there are many safety precautions that you should look into before accessing the glacier.
On day eight, we spent the day in Anchorage before heading home. In Anchorage, we explored a museum in the downtown of Anchorage. The museum gave information about Alaskan Natives, space, kinetic sculptures, artwork, and sea life. There are many exhibits to explore in this four story museum. Most of the Anchorage museum focuses on the arts and culture of the Alaskan Natives. After spending a few hours at the Anchorage museum, we walked to Elderberry Park. Elderberry Park is a classic kids park with a playground, swings, a slide, and a sand pouring mechanism. This park is located next to the gulf of Alaska and is a mile’s walk from the museum. For dinner, we ate at the Glacier Brewhouse. The restaurant was extremely crowded, but the dinner was delicious. In Anchorage, there is an amazing ice cream store that is packed with people eagerly waiting to try unique flavors. This ice cream store is called Wild scoops and it includes delicious ice cream flavors such as Moose’s Root Beer, Sitka Swirl, Rubarb Crumble, Yukon Gold, and Jamberwocky. Since this was our last day in Alaska, our family headed to the Anchorage airport where we took a flight back home.
There is only one word to describe this vacation: amazing. The beautiful nature, animals, and scenic glaciers are a rare sight. This has been a wonderful vacation.