Tell me about Alaska and its attractions

I am thinking of taking a holiday in Alaska/northwest Canada in July. Does anyone have any recommendations of things to do/places to see or stay.
Thanks in advance.

I’ve been trying to give my girlfriend Eskimo kisses, but she’s just not Inuit.

The joke doesn’t work when you read it, you have to say it outloud.

My wife ran the marathon up in Anchorage last summer, so that was our home base. We rented a minivan and a house, and found that much easier and cheaper than a hotel (YMMV on whether you’re alone or with other people). Anchorage is also a great hub, since there are several large glacier tours within driving distance (couple hours, depending on which direction you take), and Dunali is nearby (and with it being summer, the roads will be open).

Keep in mind that this is the time of the year that there’s around 20+ hours of daylight, so bring some eyeshades or something if you think you’ll need them.

How long are you going to be here and what are you into doing? If you are going to be doing the fishing, hiking and sightseeing routine, I would rent an RV and buy a copy of The Milepost. This book is the tourist bible for the state and the Alcan Highway, containing road maps, hotels, restaurants, fishing holes, hiking trails, etc.

If you’re going to rent an RV, reserve it NOW. If you wait until summer, you’ll be outa luck. One of the nicer things about Alaska is that you can pull an RV over in any wide spot in the road and spend the night. No need for an RV park. This means you can camp at some extraordinarily spectacular places with views to die for.


Denali Park & Denali Highway
Hatcher Pass
Matanuska Glacier
Portage Glacier
Kenai Peninsula (VERY crowded in summer with salmon fishermen)

You can’t actually drive into Denali Park. You park at the entrance and take a bus tour. Terrific photo ops. Denali Highway is the old road, which is still dirt and usually rough as hell. But you’re not in a hurry, so no sweat. Great fishing creeks along this road and not so much traffic. Allow two days to cross from Paxon to Cantwell.

Here’s a good one to two week itinerary: Leave Anchorage, head east on the Glenn Highway through Palmer. Visit the muskox farm there. Continue on to Matanuska Glacier, spend the night at the overlook and drive down to the glacier. Walk on the ice. Shiver.

Continue on to Glennallen and head up the Richardson highway to Paxon. At Paxon, get on the Denali Highway heading west. Camp and fish at Tangle Lakes. Continue on the dirt road and spend the next night at Brushkana campground or at any scenic pullout. Arrive at Denali Park entrance on the Parks Highway the next morning. Take day tour in park. Spend the night.

Drive south on the Parks Highway, taking time to stop at the scenic turnouts. Near the Little Susitna River, take the turnoff to Hatcher Pass. This turns into a dirt road and narrows. The climb is fairly steep, with switchbacks, but worth the trip. Visit the Independence Gold Mine on the other side of the pass. Very interesting and historic. Have a piece of pie and a sandwich at the ski chalet just down from there. Continue down the other side of the pass (which, much to my complete disgust and dismay, was paved last year) and come out back on the Glenn Highway. Drive back to Anchorage.

I went to Alaska over the summer with my dad. It was definitely a different kind of vacation than the ones I take with my mother (we do lots of shopping, eating a nice restaurants, etc.). Alaska is great for the outdoors-y type. Some of the highlights of the trip: fishing for Halibut in Homer, meeting some of the dogs that race in the Iditarod races (near Seward), and most notably, bear watching - and I don’t mean the “behind the fence” kind - I mean “in the wild.” My dad met some Alaskan bush pilot folk out there (sea planes are a big thing in Alaska, since you can’t drive to some places), and one of the pilots flew us out to the middle of nowhere, found us a nice stream filled with salmon, and we trudged around [what I would call the “tundra”], where we saw bears feeding on salmon, wandering in their natural environment. It was amazing! We had to fly out of Anchorage to Port Alsworth, where this family runs a sort of “farm” on Lake Clark . It was an interesting set-up. We stayed there 2 nights, they fed us, etc… probably pretty pricey, but my dad was footing the bill. Anyway, it was an experience I’ll never forget - flying in that little rickety plane through mountains, the turbulence forcing my stomach (and my nerves) to spin a thousand directions… the pilot, never flinching, and the wind threatening to catch the wing “just right” and flip the plane over when he tilted to give us a better view of the river below… yikes! I’ve been flying in small aircraft my whole life, and I’ve never been so nervous!

Since I’m from Florida, and I haven’t done much outdoors-y vacationing up north, I was really amazed by all the glaciers. I’ve never really seen “big ice” before, so that was a treat. We walked up to Exit Glacier (near the Iditarod thing I mentioned), and we flew over a lot of glaciers on the way to Port Alsworth. I would have liked to spend more time in the national parks, but time did not permit.

I’ve been to Alaska three times, and there’s no shortage of things to do. Sitka was fabulous. We stayed at the Sitka Hotel, which was reasonable, and the staff was wonderful. Sitka has a Raptor Rehabilitation Center, which I definitely recommend – awesome! There’s a park with lots of totem poles and a museum where a native artist makes totem poles. The place is just gorgeous.

In Juneau, we rode an aerial tramway up to the top of Mt. Robertson, took a bus tour to Mendenhall Glacier, went to museums (one of which had a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the time), hiked around, and went to salmon bakes – delicious and often in the midst of incredible scenery. I took a helicopter ride that landed on a glacier – expensive but definitely worth the cost.
Do not stay at the Westmark Baranof; we had a bad experience there: someone tried to come into our room through a window while we were sleeping, and I suspect the staff was involved.

I’ve also been to Anchorage and Fairbanks, but these trips were in the winter, so I don’t know much about the summer activities.

Don’t know if it is up your alley, but if you’re considering a cruise as an option, I can heartily recommend Lindblad. I was on one of their eight day cruises through SE Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Glacier Bay, etc.).
It’s totally not your Carnival or the like - small ships (70-100 guests), very nature oriented (usually a couple of naturalists on each cruise), and they build in time for hikes, kayaking and the like. The accomodations are spartan when compared to the big boys - but it’s perfectly comfortable and the service I had was quite good.

They’re not cheap, though.

Go here and click on Alaska Ads to see soem of the great things the state has to offer.

(note: it’s a zip file with images, since most people don’t like a link directly to a download, I didn’t do it that way.)