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Exploring Alaska: Adventures and Beauty Beyond Vacation | ICONIC LIFE

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Exploring Alaska: Adventures and Beauty Beyond Vacation

Air Taxi to explore Alaska

courtesy of Talkeetna Air Taxi

The ultimate travel guide for exploring the beautiful state of Alaska.

Iwarned my travel companion, my 6 year old son, “Alaska is an adventure, not a vacation.” We both laughed. But in the 49th state where the sun does not set until close to midnight, it is a place filled with summer days ripe for activities and endless scenic sites to explore. 

A brilliant way to explore Alaska is by classic train travel with all the modern amenities. The premium Goldstar service of the Alaska Railroad boasts glass domed ceilings and an upper level outdoor viewing area where one can experience the wind and wonder of Alaska firsthand as well as onboard tour guides who point out popular sites. Goldstar also comes with meals, an array of drinks and two adult beverages per trip. This was our main mode of transportation during our two week Alaskan exploration.

 

Alaska railroad

Alaska Railroad, Glenn Aronwits

Anchorage:

Alaska is filled with magical sites, so for those with a sense of adventure, try river rafting and floating around enormous chunks of icy blue glaciers. 

About 45 minutes away from Anchorage, is the Glacier Discovery Train, which takes you into the backcountry to experience the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. 

Glacier Discovery Train

Alaska Railroad, Ian Merculieff

At the station, prior to boarding the train, my son and I were given waterproof boots. We then boarded and enjoyed a scenic train ride filled with streaks of purply pink blossoms from fireweed flowers until we arrived at Chugach National Forest just 60 miles south of Anchorage. 

We were then bussed to the lake with a glorious backdrop of the Spencer Glacier and magnificent mountains

The icy waters of the Placer river were smooth sailing, after a period of floating around the scenic waters, the guides head down the river where a glorious view of green mountains and blue skies unfold. 

 

Explore Alaska, rafting

Masada Siegel

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Seward:

If you are a nature and animal lover, check out the Alaska SeaLife Center, a state of the art aquarium showcasing marine life. You can also visit the Seavey Ididaride Sled Dog Tour. This tour takes you on an exciting sled ride for two miles through an Alaskan rainforest. After the riding concludes you can play with the dogs near their kennels.

Once you have seen what lives under the sea be sure to explore the amazing Fjords with the 6 hour Major Marine Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise.

 

Courtesy of Major Marine Tours

We journeyed into Kenai Fjords National Park where we saw an active tidewater glacier. Along the way the ship stopped so we could see the wildlife which included orca whales, sea lions, harbor seals and many different species of majestic birds. 

Courtesy of Major Marine Tours

The captain was an excellent narrator and explained the many historic and geological aspects to the areas in great detail while showing guests the spectacular sights.

We also got to observe a towering tidewater glacier shed a large portion of ice into the vast fjord.

Talkeetna:

Journey north from Anchorage to Talkeetna on the Alaska railroad. While Talkeetna is a small town, there are many experiences to be had in the surrounding areas.

Explore the Alaska skies with Talkeetna Air Taxi. I booked a one and a half hour flight over the Alaska range.

Explore the Alaska skies with Talkeetna Air Taxi.

Courtesy of Talkeetna Air Taxi

The pilot flew over the river systems of Talkeetna across the Susitna Valley where the world opened up into an outer worldly landscape filled with icefalls, glaciers and snowy peaks.

We peered out the window to see stunning snow-capped mountains as well as the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier, which has mile high granite walls filled with a 4,000 foot thick river of ice, making it the deepest canyon in North America. 

The breathtaking views became more superb as we got closer to the Ruth Glacier, I was shocked when the pilot gently glided down and landed on the soft, snow-cone-like ice.

In the distance, was the only lodging available, Sheldon Chalet, a quaint 2000 square foot, five bedroom Chalet. 

My son and I tumbled into the snow and marveled at the scenery. It seemed like we were at the top of the world.  

I couldn’t stop smiling, the beauty, serenity and feeling of being one with the mountain gave me complete peace. To be surrounded by extraordinary beauty was extra special in a myriad of ways.

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Denali National Park and Preserve:

Denali National Park and Preserve is home to the tallest peak in North America with mount Denali measuring at 20,310 feet high. It has one 92 mile road. Visitors can drive their cars up to mile 15, while bus tours take guests much further. There are also trips where people can be dropped off to explore the park on their own.

Filled with wildlife, bus tour guides will point out native Alaskan animals. Tourists often see arctic squirrels and moose and, less often, bears. Scientists have documented 39 species of mammals in the park, 169 species of birds and more 1,500 plant species.

animal in Denali Park

Masada Siegel

Denali is also a spectacular place for fishing. I hired the father-son duo, Denali Angler, to teach us how to fly fish, a method of fishing that uses lightweight bait to mimic the pattern of insects skipping along water. The area we found ourselves in was dotted with wild blueberries and endless scenic spots. Denali Angler customizes tours and will work with you to create your ideal fishing adventure.

Fairbanks:

Fairbanks is a terrific hotspot for cuisine, culture and Alaskan wilderness. 

I recommend taking a ride on the Discovery Riverboat cruise which is not only relaxing, but will teach you about the history of Alaska. This three hour cruise takes you up the Chena River with a stop at the Trailbreaker Kennel.

Riverboat Discovery in Alaska

Riverboat Discovery

Fairbanks is filled with special experiences, one of the most unique is the Running Reindeer Ranch where visitors can literally walk, pet and get close to reindeer. 

Running Reindeer Ranch

Alaska is a state filled with unending beauty, and the train makes it easily accessible. Because the days stretch out long into the nights, there are endless possibilities to accomplish amazing activities and explore the wondrous Alaska.

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