Alaska Side Trips
The following locations, lodges, and operators have all been recommended by previous guests, though their inclusion here does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Alaska Sea Adventures. Other excellent options may also be available.
Day Trips Near Petersburg
The beautiful Stikine River originates in the high slopes of British Columbia, and makes it way some 400 miles to the Stikine Flats delta, just north of Wrangell. The fastest navigable river in the world, the Stikine features steep-walled gorges, lush greenery, and an abundance of waterfalls. Wildlife is plentiful, including moose and bear. Breakaway Adventures offers tours by jetboat up the Stikine River, with stops at Shakes Glacier and the Chief Shakes hot springs. Transportation from Petersburg to Wrangell can be arranged.
Anan Creek, located about 30 miles southeast of Wrangell, boasts one of the largest pink salmon runs in Southeast Alaska. As a result, it is an excellent place to view bears, and one of the few places to see both black and brown bears at once. A Forest Service viewing platform is accessible via a 1/2 mile long boardwalk, assuring visitors can watch wildlife in relative safety and comfort. The best viewing occurs from June to August. Permits are required during peak days in July and August. Since the observatory is reachable only by floatplane or boat, the best option is to go with a local operator. Breakaway Adventures can arrange for permits and guided transport from Petersburg or Wrangell.
Denali National Park is a showpiece, blessed with the continent’s highest mountain, sweeping vistas, and abundant wildlife. For an Alaskan park, it is also relatively accessible. Visitors can travel in comfortable buses down the 92-mile Park Rd; for the more adventurous, nearly 6 million acres of untracked backcountry awaits. While there are few places to stay within the park, a number of surrounding communities do offer lodging. For campground and shuttle bus reservations, see: http://www.reservedenali.com
For general information, please see the Denali National Park Service website, at: http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm
Bear Viewing on the Alaskan Mainland
Both brown and black bears are plentiful in Alaska, but their prevalence in any locale is dependent on time of year and environmental factors. In most places, peak bear viewing season tends to be mid June through mid September (July and early September for Brooks Falls), coinciding with salmon runs. To maximize your chances of spotting bears, it helps to plan ahead, and to go with a good guide. Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks are both excellent options for bear watching and photography.
Established in 1980, Lake Clark National Park is located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. At more than 4 million acres, Lake Clark National Park encompasses a wealth of natural features not found together in any other Alaskan park: mountains, glaciers, temperate rainforest, alpine tundra, volcanic peaks, salmon streams, and over 80 miles of rugged coastline along Cook Inlet. The Park is home to countless seabirds, brown and black bear, moose, caribou, and most other species of iconic Alaskan wildlife. No roads enter the park, and so access is mainly by boat o small aircraft (typically floatplane).
Alaska Homestead Lodge offers half and full day bear viewing excursions, as well as multi-day accommodation at their comfortable lodge. In addition to bear viewing, the lodge also offers guided silver salmon fishing, canoeing, clam digging, coastal hiking and even berry picking. Prices generally include air transfers from Soldotna, and transfers from Anchorage can also be arranged.
Silver Salmon Creek Lodge offers full-day excursions and multi-day accommodation in lodge rooms and full service cabins. They also offer more “rustic” accommodation in a fully furnished tent camp set along a salmon stream. The lodge offers guided fishing, birding, kayaking & canoeing activities, as well as coastal boat tours. Prices include air transfer from Anchorage or Soldotna/Homer.
Located some 250 miles southwest of Anchorage, on the Alaska Peninsula, lies Katmai National Park. Like Lake Clark National Park, Katmai was established in 1980, and covers an area of more than 4million acres, roughly the size of Wales. While Katmai lacks some of the diversity in natural features and wildlife of other areas, it more than makes up for it in bears – Katmai’s brown bears, numbering about 2200, comprise the largest protected population on Earth. Katmai is largely undeveloped and backcountry visitation is a challenge for the inexperienced; most visitors go to Brooks Camp:
The rustic but inviting Brooks Lodge hosts visitors in sixteen modern rooms, each accommodating 2 to 4 persons. The main lodge building boasts of extravagant lake views and a large circular fireplace. Meals are served buffet style, 3 times per day. The falls are accessed via short trails from the lodge, and numerous viewing platforms allow for extremely close encounters with the bears. The atmosphere at Brooks Camp is congenial, but the popularity of the location means viewing platforms can get crowded in peak season. Best times for viewing are July and early September, with July being peak time to see bears catching salmon leaping up the falls. Sportfishing and natural history tours may also be available.
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