Welcome to the “Last Frontier”. If Alaska is on your bucket list of “Must Do” travel experiences, then you are not alone. Let me give you an overview of Alaska and insight on the best ways to travel and see its points of interest. Best of all, I lived in Alaska for 12 years, and Michele was born and raised in Anchorage! What better travel experts! The state is very big geographically, and many points of interest do not have a road to see them. So you will drive, fly, and/or sail to many of the ports of call. Let’s find out more!
Let’s get a perspective of the size of the state. Number one, the state is bigger than Texas. Sorry, Texas. If you put Alaska over a map of the lower 48 states of the USA, Alaska would stretch east to west from Savannah, Georgia to Los Angeles, California, and south to north from the Texas Panhandle to the top of North Dakota. Wow!
Quick Alaska Facts:
Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, became a U.S. Territory in 1912, and became the 49th state in 1959. Oil was discovered in 1968, and the Trans Alaska Pipeline System was constructed in 1974.
To better understand the state for travel planning, the state is divided into its 5 regions.
The Inside Passage in the located in Southeast Alaska, and home of forest regions, waterways, and glaciers of the state.
Main Hubs: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Glacier Bay National Park & Reserve
Best way to see it:
(1) The Cruise ships are the best way to see all the ports of call! The floating hotel will take you to each port to explore, and take advantage of the many land tours available.
(2) Fly to each destination.
Activities: You can fish (Catch a Salmon or Halibut. Your cruise ship will cook your catch!), kayak, helicopter to glacier field, hike, and sightsee.
Weather: Summer. 63 degrees high, 47 degrees low; 17 hours of daylight
Southcentral is home to a diverse wilderness landscape, beaches, glaciers, and mountains to explore and wildlife to view.
Main Hubs: Anchorage, Seward, Kenai Pennisula, and Valdez
Activities: Fishing, kayaking, hiking, skiing, helicopter skiing (winter) and glacier visits, mountain biking, kayaking, clamming, whale watching, animal viewing, sightseeing, XC Skiing (winter), craft beer (My input!), and shopping (yea round and no sales tax!).
Best way to see it: Drive! The best way to see this area is to rent a car or motorhome! This is the area with a major highway. Get your camera out, fishing pole, map, and go road-tripping to see the sights! Beware that the road traffic is busy in the summer, and really busy Friday to Sunday with the locals! Take your time, and do not pass on the highways!
Weather: Summer. 63 degrees high and 50 degrees low; 17 hours of daylight.
The interior is home to great mountains and river valleys. The home of Denali, and the great Yukon River.
Main Hubs: Denali National Park, Fairbanks, and Tok.
Best Way to see it: Drive! This area has main highways to travel by car, bus, train, and fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks. Rent a car or motor home to explore this area.
Activities: Airplane Ride over Denali, mountain climbing, mountain biking, hiking, river rafting, river fishing, gold panning, sightseeing, jeep tours, ATV’s, snow machining, and rock climbing.
Weather: Summer. 70 degrees high and 49 degrees low; 19 hours of daylight
Southwest Alaska is remote Alaska with no major road systems for travel. You will find river deltas and mountains to explore. Rural native communities to engage in.
Main Hubs: Kodiak Island, Bethel, and Dillingham.
Best way to see: Fly into a major hub. Take a riverboat, floatplane, or snowmobile in winter to explore. No major highways between towns.
Activities: Fishing, hiking, flightseeing, kayaking, rafting, dog mushing, and biking.
Weather: Summer. 61 degrees high and 46 degrees low; 17 hours of daylight.
The Arctic Region is Alaska’s far north features the country’s only Arctic ecosystem. Great place to see Northern Lights, wild birds, and caribou herds. Long summer nights and long dark winter days and nights.
Main Hubs: Nome, Kotzebue, and Barrow.
Best way to see it. Limited road system. Best to fly to major hubs.
Activities: Hiking, flightseeing, XC Skiing (winter), canoeing, rafting, Jeeping, dog mushing, snow machining (winter), biking, and rock climbing.
Weather: Summer 41 degrees high and 32 degrees low; 23 hours of daylight.
Ok, the list looks big, but it is manageable with the help of a travel agent. Some of you may have family living in Alaska, and you want to visit for a special occasion or holiday. But you may want to explore on your own. One thing I would like to mention is Michele and I lived in Alaska, in Anchorage and Seward! Some of our children have been born in Alaska. I fished on the river shores, and bays and caught a lot of salmon, trout and other stuff. Oh yea, Michele and I were married, and honeymooned with a train trip to Denali National Park. Now that was something of an adventure in itself! Let us help plan your Alaska adventure, and we have some special places in Anchorage for you!
Note: My best times are winter in Anchorage, XC Skiing at night on the lighted trails or headlamp, and meeting a Moose! Contact Kevin and Michele to schedule your free travel planning session!!!
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Michele & Kevin O'Connor
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