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Alaska in August - Activity Suggestions

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
So I've managed to line up a speaking engagement in Anchorage in August, and I've decided to spend the rest of the week in Alaska.

In terms of what there is to do there, I'm thinking hiking and biking. Someone mentioned helicopter tours. My husband likes to fish, so possibly a day deep sea fishing or a day cruise. Or we could fly to Anchorage, cruise down the inside passage back to Vancouver, and fly home from there.

I just got a shiny new mountain bike, and am wondering how much of a schlep it would be to bring it on the plane. Or maybe shipping it would make more sense?

Any other outdoor activities unique to Alaska that would be suitable for two reasonably-fit (but not hard core) adults? And I'd be grateful for any insight or tips y'all might have on traveling in Alaska, suggested itineraries, etc.

Thanks!

(I'm guessing the skiing at Aleyska won't be so great in August. But I might be able to set up another gig later in the year )
post #2 of 23
Deep sea fishing should be the top priority. The Halibuts in AK are out of this world! (And I'm not even a fishing fan)

Second on my list would be sea kayaking, better yet, amounst the floating icebergs. A cruise down to Vancouver would allow you to do a bit of that too.

A week is short for Alaska but, if you have time, go do some hiking at Denali National Park.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
Deep sea fishing should be the top priority. The Halibuts in AK are out of this world! (And I'm not even a fishing fan)

Second on my list would be sea kayaking, better yet, amounst the floating icebergs. A cruise down to Vancouver would allow you to do a bit of that too.

A week is short for Alaska but, if you have time, go do some hiking at Denali National Park.
I've never gone sea kayaking before, but presumably there are outfits that will teach and guide you? If it's really spectacular I suppose I could take a few lessons here on Puget Sound first.

We're planning on 10 days total, actually.

Thanks!
post #4 of 23
What kinda of bike did you get?
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
What kinda of bike did you get?
Specialized Safire Expert.

post #6 of 23
10 days isn't much.

Head directly north.

Stop in Talkeetna.

If you like camping, camp on the beach at the river.

If not, stay at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.

Either way, have breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.

Have dinner at the west rib.

Get a little drunk at the Fairview.

Wake up, head to Denali.

Head back down past Anchorage.

Seward.

Beer. Art. Boats for fishing/cruising.

Hike Exit Glacier. You can hike to the Harding Ice Field which is the birth spot of tons of glaciers.

Drive back to Anchorage.

Drink at Glacier Brewhouse or Humpy's.

Take tylenol.

Get on plane.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the itinerary!

Sounds fantastic. I especially like the bar recommendations

Any particular hikes in Denali you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
10 days isn't much.

Head directly north.

Stop in Talkeetna.

If you like camping, camp on the beach at the river.

If not, stay at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.

Either way, have breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.

Have dinner at the west rib.

Get a little drunk at the Fairview.

Wake up, head to Denali.

Head back down past Anchorage.

Seward.

Beer. Art. Boats for fishing/cruising.

Hike Exit Glacier. You can hike to the Harding Ice Field which is the birth spot of tons of glaciers.

Drive back to Anchorage.

Drink at Glacier Brewhouse or Humpy's.

Take tylenol.

Get on plane.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acrophobia View Post
Any particular hikes in Denali you recommend?
That'd depend on backpacking vs. day hiking.

Day hiking in Denali doesn't really exist.

Trails in Denali don't really exist.

If you are strong (normal strong, not super human Denali strong) then Polychrome peak would be a good overnighter.

The Polychrome glaciers are a decent overnight. That's a nice area in general.

There really aren't any trails. Backpacking up there is way different than anything in the lower 48.

You gotta know your topos, your compass, and you have to remember that a peak that seems doable in a day from a basecamp, might take a day to get to the bottom of.

Which also means day hiking isn't what you think it is.

There is one road into the park. You can't drive it. You have to take the bus.

Almost anything that has a trail is very short. Which works so you can catch the next bus or so.

The only way to hike Denali is backpacking.

The only way to backpack on that short of a timeframe is to be really realistic and do something that seems easy in normal backpacking terms.

It won't be.

Like I said, no trails. All route finding. Route finding = grizzlies. You will have to cross rivers. Rivers are glacial fed. They are cold. 35-40 degrees. People talk about how cold Tahoe is (or any mountain lake). Those lakes are in the 60's+, hell, Tahoe is in the lower 70s.

That isn't to scare you away. The grizzlie are no big deal. The rivers are managable. You just have to be ready to not bang out a lot of miles in a day.

And yell "Hey bear" a lot.

I worked in Denali for a 4 summers.

I'd recommend Polychrome mountain.

You mostly follow rivers in.

Decent summit.

If it isn't raining in August, good view of Denali, fairly easy second day out.

Lynx Creek pizza has great pizza and beer.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acrophobia View Post
I've never gone sea kayaking before, but presumably there are outfits that will teach and guide you? If it's really spectacular I suppose I could take a few lessons here on Puget Sound first.

We're planning on 10 days total, actually.

Thanks!
Yes, it's spectacular!

Either way will work. Outfitters are abound, in Seaward, Whittier... anywhere by the coast. They'll take you to places you can't get to any other way! Oh yes, it's usually guided. Water is too cold and too unforgiving to let you loose by yourself! They'll show you how to paddle and such. But if you have the time to do a couple lessons near home, you will be able to ask for more adventureous trips, for example camp overnight on an island for a night etc.

I suggest Denali but my own experience wasn't all that great. We stayed too short (2 days). I think a longer stay give you a better sense of what the wildness of the vast Alaska backcountry.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the heads up on the challenges of hiking Denali.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
That isn't to scare you away. The grizzlie are no big deal. The rivers are managable. You just have to be ready to not bang out a lot of miles in a day.

And yell "Hey bear" a lot.
Er...

"The grizzlies are no big deal" sounds a lot like someone's epitaph! :
post #11 of 23
splitter 's description is exactly my impression as a first time visitor. I found Denali too big to even know how to start!

Walking casually for a couple hours don't seem to get us anywhere! Until we stopped and checked the topo to realize that little peak nearby is miles away and there's no chance we can climb it on a day!!! Even driving to and from it, the landscape don't seem to change for hours!!!

Also, backpacking in bear country is a bit different, for those of us who don't live in bear territory. Probably not too bad for those who're familiar with the ritual but just quite worrysome for the rest of us.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
splitter 's description is exactly my impression as a first time visitor. I found Denali too big to even know how to start!

Walking casually for a couple hours don't seem to get us anywhere! Until we stopped and checked the topo to realize that little peak nearby is miles away and there's no chance we can climb it on a day!!! Even driving to and from it, the landscape don't seem to change for hours!!!

Also, backpacking in bear country is a bit different, for those of us who don't live in bear territory. Probably not too bad for those who're familiar with the ritual but just quite worrysome for the rest of us.
A think travelling with a knowledgeable guide would be key to a first-timer in Denali. Probably also something you train for.

I have no shame in admitting that my idea of a good day is all-day outdoor exertion followed by a hot shower and clean sheets.
post #13 of 23
If you're there the last week in August, you can always check out the Alaska State Fair 45 miles N. of Anchorage. It's pretty much your standard state fair -- greasy food, Indian-casino-quality live music, a lady getting shot out of a cannon on Lady Getting Shot Out Of A Cannon Day, a couple of dozen opportunities to buy salsa makers, eyeglass lens defogging creams, lifetime-guarantee serrated grapefruit knives -- but it does have something no other state fair has: truly giant vegetables.

If you head south to the Kenai peninsula, do check out the Kenai River near Cooper Landing. The Kenai is sort of legendary for its steelhead and salmon runs, and it's just a beautiful river.

Homer's a pretty cool town, It's very tourist oriented and hosts a lot of salmon, lingcod, and halibut charters. It's also a jumping off point for some other lesser known, but equally memorable, places like Seldovia.

Seward is nice, too. It's got the fishing charters like Homer and is also the jumping off point for Kenai Fjords National Park. I took a day-long motorized boat tour of Kenai Fjords, but I saw a lot of sea kayakers on the water also. The scenery in Kenai Fjords is dramatic, and the marine wildlife is abundant.

There's a pretty competitive small-airplane-based tourism industry in Alaska. In fact, there's a separate float-plane-only airport on a lake in Anchorage. You can book all sorts of trips, from short flight-seeing trips that stay pretty close to Anchorage to much longer trips that drop you off in some secluded cove, say, in Prince William sound for a day to fish for salmon or kayak or whatever...you can pretty much roll your own trip in this department. It can get expensive, but it's cat-skiing expensive, not heli-skiing expensive.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnarlito View Post
It's pretty much your standard state fair -- greasy food, Indian-casino-quality live music,
Hey now, I saw the Red Elvises (super fun russian surf-a-billy, songs like "I wanna see you bellydance") and Joan Jett at that state fair.

I actually was a pre state fair Red Elvis fan so I hitchhiked down there specifically for those guys.

I was picked up by a winnebago full of people trying to get me to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.

The Red Elvises made it all okay by putting me on their bar tab.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
Hey now, I saw the Red Elvises (super fun russian surf-a-billy, songs like "I wanna see you bellydance") and Joan Jett at that state fair.

I actually was a pre state fair Red Elvis fan so I hitchhiked down there specifically for those guys.

I was picked up by a winnebago full of people trying to get me to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.

The Red Elvises made it all okay by putting me on their bar tab.
Dude! This sounds like scene from a David Lynch film. Jesus Freaks, a Winnebago, and Red Elvii....
post #16 of 23
Talkeetna great for salmon fishing. Silvers run in august. Nothing like getting a 9:00PM t-time and getting all 18 in.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips. I'd heard about the Alaska State Fair and its giant vegetables already actually! Sounds like a good time.

I will investigate the Kenai peninsula and Homer. Seward sounds fantastic.

Flight-seeing sounds like a blast, actually. I've ridden in a tiny float plane from Seattle to Victoria BC and that was absolutely spectacular. I can only imagine what it's like in Alaska.

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnarlito View Post
If you're there the last week in August, you can always check out the Alaska State Fair 45 miles N. of Anchorage. It's pretty much your standard state fair -- greasy food, Indian-casino-quality live music, a lady getting shot out of a cannon on Lady Getting Shot Out Of A Cannon Day, a couple of dozen opportunities to buy salsa makers, eyeglass lens defogging creams, lifetime-guarantee serrated grapefruit knives -- but it does have something no other state fair has: truly giant vegetables.

If you head south to the Kenai peninsula, do check out the Kenai River near Cooper Landing. The Kenai is sort of legendary for its steelhead and salmon runs, and it's just a beautiful river.

Homer's a pretty cool town, It's very tourist oriented and hosts a lot of salmon, lingcod, and halibut charters. It's also a jumping off point for some other lesser known, but equally memorable, places like Seldovia.

Seward is nice, too. It's got the fishing charters like Homer and is also the jumping off point for Kenai Fjords National Park. I took a day-long motorized boat tour of Kenai Fjords, but I saw a lot of sea kayakers on the water also. The scenery in Kenai Fjords is dramatic, and the marine wildlife is abundant.

There's a pretty competitive small-airplane-based tourism industry in Alaska. In fact, there's a separate float-plane-only airport on a lake in Anchorage. You can book all sorts of trips, from short flight-seeing trips that stay pretty close to Anchorage to much longer trips that drop you off in some secluded cove, say, in Prince William sound for a day to fish for salmon or kayak or whatever...you can pretty much roll your own trip in this department. It can get expensive, but it's cat-skiing expensive, not heli-skiing expensive.
post #18 of 23
Hi, Acrophobia.

You're going to have a great time. Alaska is everything you've ever heard and more.

One thing nobody has mentioned that I think would be worth looking into is spending a day or few at Girdwood. It's not very far from Anchorage and there seems to be a lot to do there. I've never been but I want to go.

Girdwood is the gateway for Alyeska ski resort. They have an aerial tram that operates in the summer. How cool does this look?



One neat thing about visiting ski resorts in the summer is that usually they have good hiking trails or access roads you can hike up. Then, once you're at the top of a lift (like this tram), you can RIDE down instead of pounding your knees all the way down.

Their website lists sea kayaking trips that sound great. You can do short to moderate day tours and see things like this:






Another activity that really intrigues me is the "Glacier Hikes and Rock Climbing".



Oh, they have mountain biking, too, plus fishing and lots more. Looks like a fun place to visit.

I've been to various parts of Alaska a total of about ten times and every trip has been incredible. You just can't believe the country up there.

Another thing... if you're flying up the coast from Washington state, make CERTAIN when you make your flight reservations that you get a right-side window seat. If you're lucky enough to fly on a clear day, the views of the British Columbia and Alaska coasts are something you'll never forget.

I'm leaving for Alaska next week and I can't wait. I'll be "working" because I've just listed for sale this fly-in fishing lodge - Painter Creek Lodge.

I'll be there for two weeks doing photographs and movies and inventory and stuff. I *might* get the opportunity to make a cast or two for king salmon or rainbow trout, but only in a WORKING capacity, you understand. This trip will be nothing but work, work, work. Alas, poor me.

Anyway, have fun and post a trip report for us when you return.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips, Bob! Especially on which side of the aircraft to request.

That tram ride looks spectacular, if a little...ah...exciting! Might be a good "rest day" activity. Great idea checking out Aleyska in the summer. There's a good chance I can swing another gig in the winter and add on a ski trip. In a strictly working capacity, of course!
post #20 of 23
Don't forget about the BAKERY in Girdwood!
post #21 of 23
Hatchers Pass has some great hiking too.
post #22 of 23
I'm partial to the Double Musky for semi-upscale dining, the Bake Shop for breakfast, and Coast Pizza for pizza in Girdwood. Lots to do there in the summer.
post #23 of 23
I would join Bob in saying that Girdwood is a great place to operate out of. Beautiful scenery and less than an hour from the Anchorage International Airport. http://www.girdwoodchamber.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi I am, of course, biased since I live here. But there is a lot of great country with great scenery nearby. The Alyeska Resort website has many ideas for activities. http://www.alyeskaresort.com/ Or you might consider a ride on the fast ferry Chenega across Prince William Sound, with a stay in Cordova or Valdez. http://www.akmhs.com/schedules/viewm...h=6&BoatID=267 And for hikes, any of the trails described on this page would be excellent. http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/chugach/pag...ct/seward.html
Or drive to Homer or Seward for the many activities available at either place.
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