Backcountry cabins, water taxis, day hikes and brewery tours: The Collins family did it all during an adventurous week this June, when the family of four made their way across the Kenai Peninsula in a travel van. They formed a caravan with Angie’s parents, who also rented a van, and the kids, parents and grandparents together traveled from Girdwood to Seward to Homer and back.
This is the third installment in our How They Got Lost series, featuring interviews and discussions with our guests on what their travels in their campervans looked like: where they camped, what they saw, how they planned, and what the highlights and challenges were. These are the real trips that different travelers took in their travel vans.
Read on to hear from Angie on the road trip she and her family took this summer.
(I did edit the responses slightly – just enough to fit in with the flow of the narrative.)
Angie Collins here. It’s hard to put our LOVE for Alaska into words. I am pretty certain there is no place in the world quite like it. But I sure am happy to share our experience with others.
Our family of four plus my parents spent 9 days in the Kenai Peninsula the first week of June. We flew into Anchorage, picked up our awesome Van and headed out to ‘Get Lost’ in Alaska!
Did you have your trip planned before you arrived, or did you choose what to do/where to stay during your trip?
We did plan our trip in advance with a little flexibility to change plans once we were there. My husband and I have been to Alaska before and couldn’t wait to share some of our favorite spots with our kids (ages 6 and 10) and my parents, who have have spent their lives dreaming about a trip to the Last Frontier. We visited some new places we had not been before but also returned to a few areas simply because they were worth seeing again.
We spent our whole trip in the Kenai Peninsula because we feel there is so much to see and do in this breathtakingly beautiful and diverse part of Alaska, without driving great distances in between. This is a key factor when traveling with young kids. We had traveled to Denali National Park on a previous trip so we knew we would not take the time to drive north.
I can’t say enough about the van we rented, it fit our family of 4 perfectly. My parents rented their own. It gave us the flexibility to camp when and where we wanted, they are equipped with EVERYTHING you need, beds are super comfy, and really easy to set up. We loved it so much we wish we owned our own back home. We are outdoor enthusiasts and spend MUCH of our time camping and venturing in the Blue Ridge Mountains where we live.
What were the highlights of your trip?
Honestly, our entire trip was unforgettable. But here a few of our favorite spots:
Girdwood & Alyeska Resort – our kids LOVED this place. It’s where we started our trip so the kids could have a day or two to recover from the long flights, adjust to the time change, swim, and rest up before our greater adventures. We especially loved Girdwood and the brewery there! Nice day hikes, including the Crow Pass Trail. We booked the Crow Pass Cabin for one night which is a 3.5 mile hike in. It is a beautiful hike along what was part of the original Iditarod trail. We did not make it to the cabin as snow was still deep near the top and we did not have the right equipment for our whole group. We would highly recommend this day or overnight hike (if you are able to book the cabin), but make sure you have the right gear!
Willawaw Campground – nice quiet spot to camp just before the tunnel to Whittier
Callisto Cabin – this is also a hike-in cabin, but we took a water taxi from Seward to get there because we had not timed our hike well with the tide. The cabin sits along the beach, and views are spectacular!
Trail River Campground – picturesque camp spot near Moose Pass (see photo above)
Halibut Cove – we took the Danny J water ferry to Halibut Cove for 2 nights and rented a house there through Halibut Cove Rentals. Our place was called the Sea Shanty. It was awesome and accommodated our whole family. Halibut Cove is a very special place that we have visited twice now. Be sure to eat at the Saltry Restaurant, food is over the top. But the experience eating dockside is even better! We arranged a water taxi one day to go glacier hiking. It was pretty neat!
Be sure to get a beer at the Salty Dawg Saloon on the Homer Spit before you board the ferry. While the spit is VERY touristy, it’s fun to see. After all, it is the Halibut Fishing Capital of the world. My parents took a float plane from Homer Spit to bear watch on Kodiak island. That was most memorable for them!
Lastly, the people of Alaska are what I love most. They are friendly and genuine, willing to help if you need it because they simply want you to love and appreciate Alaska as they do. We have traveled to many places in the world and it is where we feel most welcome!
Were there any unexpected challenges to deal with? If so, how did you manage to overcome them?
Gosh, traveling always comes with some challenges. But things went very smoothly this trip. If anything maybe we would plan a little less next time. Often we plan too many details in advance, and don’t allow for enough flexibility.
What advice or tips do you have for other travelers who might want to do something similar?
LOOK NO FURTHER for a van rental!! We researched EVERYTHING! I guarantee nothing compares to the experience you will have at Get Lost Travel Vans. Did I mention that the staff is wonderful?! We were actually sad to drop off our Van as it felt like home for 9 days. We can’t wait to go back and ‘Get Lost’ again!
Thanks for renting a travel van, Collins Family! We are so honored to have been a part of such an amazing adventure, and wish you many happy hikes and camping trips in your future!
All photos © Angie Collins