Adventure awaits in America’s last great frontier. Every one of Alaska’s 586,000 square miles invites you to its own extraordinary adventure. Rich in wildlife, this great frontier is home to more animals than people. Its magnificent scenery inspires awe in the beholder. So an Alaska vacation is your passport to a thrilling adventure.
Alaska’s National Parks
Alaska is home to 8 national parks. These parks occupy one-half of the land area in the U.S. national park system. So, an Alaska vacation would not be complete without a visit to at least one of these parks.
Each park has is own unique characteristics. The centerpiece of Denali National Park is Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. Denali’s more than 6,000,000 acres is home to grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose and wolves.
The Wrangell St. Elias National Park contains the largest number of glaciers. Remote mountains, deep valleys, wild rivers and an abundance of wildlife are dominant features of this park. This is a great park of the avid photographer.
The Kenai Fjords National Park is located in southeastern Alaska. It is dominated by great fjords and the Harding Icefield. Fjords are deep valleys carved by ancient glaciers. These fjords are now filled with sea water. The Harding Icefield sits on a mountain platform above the coastline. Only rarely does a mountain peak penetrate the flat ice surface of the field. The Exit Glacier is extremely popular with vacationers, and it is easily accessible.
These parks are representative of all Alaska’s national parks. A visit to any one of them on your Alaska vacation will offer rich dividends.
Adventure to Alaska’s Glaciers
Imagine the spectacle of ancient glaciers dropping massive chunks of ice into the sea. The glaciers of College Fjord, Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Bay National Park offer some of the most spectacular sights and sounds you’ll experience on your Alaska vacation adventure. After moving ponderously down the mountains and fjords, these massive rivers of ice drop their bounty into the sea. The process is known as “calving,” and some tidewater glaciers shed enormous chunks of ice several times an hour.
In most cases, the cascading wall of ice you see is several hundred years old. While these newly formed icebergs melt rapidly in the warmer water, some are large enough to support seals and other wildlife looking for a free ride even though it is temporary.
Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage
Cruising the Inside Passage is one of the most popular Alaska vacation adventures. Ancient glaciers carved the passage. Now blanketed with majestic hemlock and spruce, it is a region of pristine water, snow capped mountains, deep fjords and forested islands. The area, with its mild, maritime climate, is a prime habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoise and whales.
The picturesque communities along the coast continue to reveal the area’s rich history. Quaint churches and other historical buildings preserve the Russian influence. You will relive the Gold Rush era as you make your way through the Passage.
Ancient totem poles are constant reminders of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indian cultures. You can watch as this generation of Native Americans preserve the art of totem carving. You can also see demonstrations of their traditional dance and music.
An Alaska vacation is no ordinary experience. The rich variety of options assures that you will have the time of your life. From the majestic mountains that dominate Denali National Park to the massive tidewater glaciers, from abundant wildlife to remote lodges, your Alaska experience will be permanently imprinted in your memory. If you never get to visit Alaska again, your Alaska adventure will still live within you.
Copyright by Earl Calvert, 2006 – All rights reserved