A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 41°/53°/Partly sunny
Fairbanks: 31°/63°/Intermittent clouds
Juneau: 39°/62°/Partly sunny
The round-rumped grizzly bear ambled toward us, and I swallowed a scream and the urge to run. It had 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve wilderness in which to roam, yet somehow this bear had managed to find my backpacking partner and me, alone on the Savage River.
On and off the road system, Alaska is dotted with cities, towns and villages that give the state its real character.
Luck struck around 6:30 a.m. Sunday -- less than nine hours before the end of the 10-day Slam'n Salm'n derby -- when Robert Hayes hooked a 40.97-pound king salmon that made him the winner.
Summer solstice marked the beginning of the warm season last week, but two Anchorage fly-fishermen discovered Monday morning that winter still lingers deep in the Chugach Mountains.
Alaska has four national monuments. All of them are off the road system.
Admiralty Island National Monument, 15 miles west of Juneau in Southeast Alaska, has the world's highest concentration of brown bears, about one per square mile, and many bald eagles.
The monument covers almost 1,500 square miles, which amounts to 90 percent of the island. The village of Angoon sits on the western side of the island.
Aniakchak National Monument, 150 miles southwest of King Salmon on the Alaska Peninsula, features a collapsed 7,000-foot volcano with a lake in the 2,000-foot-deep caldera.
Standing above a bear-filled forest and whipped by Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska storms, it's the least visited national monument in the country. It covers 900 square miles.
Cape Krusenstern National Monument, north of Kotzebue along the Chukchi Sea, has 114 beach ridges that show thousands of years of continual habitation by Native groups harvesting the area's sea mammals and berries. It covers 1,030 square miles of Arctic Alaska.
Misty Fjords National Monument protects a part of the Tongass National Forest east of Ketchikan. The wilderness and nonwilderness areas together cover 3,600 square miles; its 3,375 square miles of wilderness is the largest patch of national forest wilderness in Alaska.
The first U.S. Army post in Alaska, Fort Tongass (1868 to 1870), was situated inside this area. The monument has a great variety of wildlife; old-growth hemlock, spruce and cedar; glacially carved scenery; and nearly constant precipitation.