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  • Sensational Alaska Experiences

    Sensational Alaska Experiences

Exploring the U.S.’ vast last frontier is on many a vacation wish list.

You might spot soaring eagles, brown and black bears, and foraging moose. If you’re lucky, you’ll return with a photo of a whale breaching the surface of Rudyerd Bay. Seasoned travelers often opt for ways to see the 49th State in a way that gives a closer look at its bountiful wonders, such as spouting whales and chunks of gigantic glaciers crashing into chilly waters below.Here are seven excursions to put on your Alaska travel wish-list:

Land of Wonder

Marveling at the World’s Largest Collection of Standing Totem Poles in Ketchikan

Sitting at the southern end of the Inside Passage north of British Columbia, Ketchikan often serves as a traveler’s introduction to Alaska. Its centerpiece is nearly 100 tall carved Native American artifacts displayed around and near town, some visible from the street on the tourist bureau’s Ketchikan Walking Tour and many more at the Totem Heritage Center. The center boasts what’s billed as the largest collection of unrestored 19th– century poles as well as masks, ceremonial garb, baskets and historic photographs of villages where the poles were found. You’ll see a “mortuary pole,” honoring a dead person and used to store cremated remains, and a “story pole” detailing a clan’s historical narrative. Travel about three miles south on a shuttle or with a guide to see two dozen more totems at Saxman Native Village. Just north of the city, Totem Bight State Historical Park holds nearly 20 poles, including the imposing Eagle Grave Marker. Travel 10 miles north and see more at Potlatch Totem Park, whose exhibits include five Native Alaskan clan houses.

Going Big Sky at Glacier National Park 1

Experiencing the Magnificent Taku Glacier Near Juneau

The blue-tinged ice of Taku Glacier – the largest, most impressive and only advancing glacier on the Juneau Icefield – is recognized as the deepest and thickest alpine temperate glacier known in the world. It is measured at 4,845 feet (1,477 m) thick and about 58 kilometres (36 mi) long. You will board a van for the 15-minute ride to the heliport. Along with the Taku Glacier, you will fly over numerous glacial landscapes, including advancing, retreating, cascading and a one-of-a-kind floating glacier. Under your pilot’s expert guidance, you will get the chance to walk on and explore the ancient landscape, peer down into a crevasse and taste the purity of glacial streams. This tour is perfect for small groups and visits a truly remote, helicopter access only location. The time to see it is soon: it and other Alaska glaciers are shrinking. Visitors also can be ferried to the glacier’s edge, hike to nearby Nugget Falls and see exhibits at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which is wheelchair accessible.

Misty Fjords

“Flightseeing” Over Pristine Misty Fjords National Monument

From the air, passengers are treated to an unforgettable panoramic view of the 2.3-million-acre preserve east of Ketchikan that has the most wilderness of any national forest in the state and is considered some of the most amazing scenery in Alaska. Those opting for an aerial adventure board a small floatplane in Ketchikan and don headsets to hear the pilot’s comments on what’s beneath them. That includes waterfalls plunging down steep granite cliffs and deep valleys carved long ago by flowing lava. You might spot soaring eagles, brown and black bears, and foraging moose. If you’re lucky, you’ll return with a photo of a whale breaching the surface of Rudyerd Bay. Many tours include landing on a lake and taking a stroll in a forest.


Mushing Huskies on the Snow Near Juneau

Board a helicopter for a quick flight over ice fields before touching down to take part in one of Alaska’s iconic pastimes. You’ll board a dogsled for a memorable ride on a glacier; not quite the famed Iditarod long-distance race, but fodder for a good tale to tell back home.

Sensational Alaska Experiences

Kayaking in Scenic Kenai Fjords National Park

Nearly 40 glaciers flow over the terrain of this pristine wilderness area, where only small boats go. Board a zodiac or kayak to see playful otters, sea lions and porpoises — perhaps even a humpback whale. Onboard naturalists and glaciologists lead these excursions.

A bear walking through tall grass in Alaska

Watching Brown and Black Bears Outside Sitka

Bear encounters in a safe environment are guaranteed at the Fortress of the Bear, the largest nonprofit bear rescue facility in the U.S. Not at all like a zoo, Fortress provides a home for orphaned cubs and lets visitors observe the bruins being fed and at play on nearly an acre of land. Sitka itself, with Russian heritage that includes an onion-domed cathedral, is worth a stroll.

How to Explore

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