The 2.2-million-acre Misty Fiords National Monument is the largest national forest wilderness in the United States, covering the east side of Revillagigedo Island, the adjacent mainland all the way to the Canadian border, and the long narrow Behm Canal that separates the island and the mainland.
Misty contains a diversity of gorgeous scenery—glaciers, rain forests, narrow fjords, and rugged mountains—but is best known for the spectacular cliffs that rise as high as 3,000 feet from the ocean.
Almost unknown until its establishment in 1978, Misty Fiords is today one of the highlights of an Alaskan trip for many visitors. Be forewarned, however, it’s an expensive highlight.Destination:Activities:
Rain Walker Expeditions (907/874-2549, www.rainwalkerexpeditions.com) rents bikes, canoes, and kayaks from the Breakaway office across from Stikine Inn. Owner Marie Oboczky leads informative nature hikes and bus tours lasting from two hours to all day. They’re fun and geared to your area of interest, whether it’s petroglyphs or rain forests.
A paved walking and biking path runs from Wrangell for six miles to the trailhead for Rainbow Falls at Shoemaker Bay.Destination:Activities:
Located 50 miles southeast of Juneau, the 653,000-acre Tracy Arm–Fords Terror Wilderness contains country that rivals Glacier Bay National Park but costs half as much to reach. The wilderness consists of a broad bay that splits into two long glacially carved arms—Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. (Fords Terror splits off as a separate channel halfway up Endicott Arm.)Destination:Activities:
One of the most popular hiking trails in Alaska is the 1.5-mile path to the summit of Flattop Mountain within Chugach State Park. The trailhead is on the southeastern edge of Anchorage, so you’ll need a car to get there.
The Alaska Mountaineering Club (907/272-1811, www.mcak.org) holds meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the First United Methodist Church (9th Ave. and G St.). Visitors are welcome to enjoy the presentations, and it only costs $15 to join the club and go along on any of their frequent outings.Destination:Activities:
The most exciting thing to do in Seward is to get on a tour boat out into Resurrection Bay or into some nearby fjords. This is the cruise for seeing marine wildlife. On a good day, you could see three kinds of whales—including humpbacks and orcas—plus porpoises, seals, sea otters, sea lions, hundreds of puffins, kittiwakes, auklets, and the occasional bald eagle and oystercatcher.Destination:Activities:
If you have three days in Homer, spend one of them on beautiful Kachemak Bay. A great way to do this is through a Natural History Tour (907/235-6667, www.akcoastalstudies.org, late May–early Sept.) with professional naturalists from the nonprofit Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. You’ll spend time at bird rookeries, tide pools, rain forest trails, and prehistoric sites, and will gain a lifetime appreciation for the marine world.Destination:Activities:
The state ferry pauses on its trip between Valdez and Whittier to view the Columbia Glacier, or you can join a private tour. Because of the glacier’s recent movement back up the bay, boats can only get to within about six miles of the face. This changes, but does not diminish, the experience, as the boats cruise through and over the fields of drifting ice towering above the deck to see the glacier as more huge chunks shear off and drop into the bay.Destination:Activities:
Whittier is a popular departure point for day trips to the glaciers of Prince William Sound mid-May–late September. Phillips Tours and Cruises (907/276-8023 or 800/544-0529, www.26glaciers.com) operates the 4.5-hour 26-Glacier Cruise for $139 ($79 children). The trip aboard its 340-passenger Klondike Express—a high-speed three-deck catamaran—covers a lot of ground but still allows plenty of time to linger at the faces of several glaciers.Destination:Activities:
Denali View Raft Adventures (907/733-2778 or 877/533-2778, www.denaliviewraft.com) has three-hour Susitna River trips ($105 adults, $65 children), two-hour Talkeetna River floats ($69 adults, $49 children), and a unique 4.5-hour trip that starts with a train ride upriver followed by a float and lunch on the Susitna River ($169 adults, $110 children).
Talkeetna River Guides (907/733-2677 or 800/353-2677, www.talkeetnariverguides.com) offers two-hour Talkeetna River floats for $79, and four-hour Chulitna River trips for $129. They primarily book customers from the large hotels.Destination:Activities:
The Binkley family, now in its fourth generation of riverboat pilots, runs Riverboat Discovery Cruises (907/479-6673 or 866/479-6673, www.riverboatdiscovery.com, $54 adults, $38 ages 3–12, younger children free). This 3.5-hour 20-mile cruise on the Chena and Tanana Rivers—a bargain—includes the chance to view an Athabascan-style camp, to watch a floatplane take off, and to see dogs from the late Susan Butcher’s team in action (from the boat).
Reservations are necessary. Cruises depart from the dock at the end of Dale Road near the airport at 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. mid-May–mid-September. A large gift shop awaits if you get there early.Destination:Activities:
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