We talk a lot about hiking on this blog, because that is one of our favorite activities, and it’s also a popular activity among our renters. However, it’s certainly not the only way to experience adventure in Alaska, and there are plenty of activities, both on and off the trail, that are just as much fun and involve just as much adventure. To celebrate National Great Outdoors Month this June, we’ve gathered up a few things we find our renters have fun doing while they’re here.
If you’re planning on heading to any of the coastal areas of the state, kayaking options are plentiful. Seward, Homer, Whittier, Valdez and pretty much everywhere in Southeast have options for kayaking. Take a half day tour of Resurrection Bay or Kachemak Bay, take a water taxi out to a distant island or fjord and paddle back, or take a multi-day excursion that can be boat-supported or expedition-style. There’s something to suit everyone, and it’ll get you up close to otters and sea lions, starfish and anemones, and hidden beaches, waterfalls and rock formations you just can’t see from the trail. Even if you’re heading inland, though, you still might get a chance to paddle: Kayaks can be rented at some of the large lakes around the state, including Eklutna (above)!
Lift-assisted or cross-country? Bike path or gravel? There are so many options and so many places to go! Alyeska Resort in Girdwood and Hilltop Ski Area in Anchorage both offer lift-assisted mountain biking and bike rentals, so buy a lift ticket and get kitted out with a sweet setup to send it down the mountain. Or, head out to Kincaid Park with a rental from the Trek store to cruise around the single track at the level you’re comfortable with. Or, take a guided tour on the miles of paved trails throughout Anchorage with Alaska Trail Guides, who will help you to search for moose and black bear in an urban setting. Rent a bike from them or take your rental from Trek along on the rest of your trip, too—we have bike racks for our vans!
Make this as adventurous or as tame as you like. The Kenai River is famous for its fish, but it’s also a friendly place for a family rafting tour. Or take a whitewater trip down Six Mile creek near Hope or down the Nenana River near Denali for an exhilarating (and cold!) adventure. Or, get creative and take the train to Spencer Glacier, paddle around Spencer Lake and then raft back down the Placer River with Chugach Adventures.
Combine this with the previous one, and you’ve got the makings of an amazing adventure. Find a float trip in Cooper Landing, and fish for salmon, trout and/or dolly varden while you’re out on the Kenai River. For halibut, cod or salmon, take a charter out of Homer, Anchor Point, or Seward. Don’t forget to buy an entry into the derby if you happen to be there while it’s going on, so that if you catch a big fish, or a tagged one, you can collect your winnings! If you head out on an ocean charter, you may even catch a glimpse of Alaska’s abundant marine wildlife, like whales and otters, while you’re on the water.
Wildlife & Glacier Tours
Which leads us into the next option: If orcas and puffins are on your list but fishing is not, take a boat tour out into Kenai Fjords National Park or Prince William Sound. All these animals are commonly seen on the summer tours, along with humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, Dall porpoise, kittiwakes, bald eagles, black bears, and the occasional fin or minke whale—not to mention a calving tidewater glacier or two. You never know what you’ll see, just that what you see will be spectacular.
And Yes, Hiking
It seems we can’t write a post about Alaska’s outdoor activities without including hiking. And really, if hiking is your thing, Alaska’s the place to be. Take a guided hike with Go Hike Alaska and find a few waterfalls and vistas only locals know about, plus learn a bit about the flora and fauna of this region while you’re at it. Or, DIY your adventure and check out this post about long hikes, this one about urban hiking, and this one about hiking a particularly famous Alaska trail from various points along its length.
Alaska is what you make it, and there’s plenty of adventure to be had both on and off the trail. In fact, there’s plenty of adventure to be seen from your travel van window! Just make sure you stop from time to time and experience all that Alaska has to offer, whether it involves a bike wheel, a paddle or a fishing rod.
Don’t miss out on any adventure: Book your van or SUV today!