Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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TURNAGAIN ARM: Girdwood, Portage and Hope offer outdoor adventures

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things to do

Alaska Paragliding Get a bird's-eye view of Alaska with the assistance of an experienced tandem paraglider. After a brief introduction, a pilot guides the paraglider around the skies of Girdwood to the valley floor. Guests are able to steer the paraglider while in the air. Anyone age 5 and older can participate, but there is a 265-pound weight limit. The flight averages 10 to 30 minutes depending on wind conditions. A series of photographs is offered for $20.

Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave. in Girdwood

When: June 1 to Sept. 15

Cost: $195

Phone: 301-1215

Web: www.alaskaparagliding.com

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and taking care of orphaned and injured animals. Resident animals at the 200-acre refuge include moose, brown bears, black bears, porcupines, elk, bison, caribou, musk oxen, birds of prey, Sitka black-tailed deer and various small animals. Visitors can drive or walk through the scenic park and safely get an up-close look at the animals. There is a log cabin gift shop.

Where: Mile 79 Seward Highway

When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, mid-May to September

Cost: $7.50 adults, $5 seniors, military and children ages 4-12; $25 maximum per car

Phone: 783-2025

Web: www.alaskawildlife.org

Alpine Air Alaska Inc. Take a helicopter flight from Girdwood and enjoy a variety of Alaska adventures. The company offers flightseeing trips to the Chugach Mountains and to Prince William Sound as well a glacier landing and a summer dog-sledding trip.

Where: Girdwood Airport Road

When: 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. daily

Cost: Varies

Phone: 783-2360

Web: www.alpineairalaska.com

Alyeska Dog Team Adventures

Combine two spectacular events in one trip. Enjoy a helicopter ride into the Chugach Mountains and land on a snow-covered glacier surrounded by towering peaks. Once there, meet the musher and his energetic Alaska huskies as they teach you about mushing. Learn how to drive the sled yourself or simply take a ride.

Where: Girdwood Airport Road

When: 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. daily May 21 to Aug. 31

Cost: $419 per adult, $389 per child

Phone: 783-2360

Web: www.alpineairalaska.com

Alyeska Resort

The resort, nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains near Turnagain Arm and featuring a luxury hotel, is perfect for outdoors lovers. Access to the mountain is made easier by the ski area's 60-person aerial tram, which climbs Mount Alyeska daily between 10:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. starting in early May through the end of September. The five-minute, $16 ride ends 2,300 feet above sea level with spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and several surrounding glaciers. The roundhouse at the top of the tram dates to 1959 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Alyeska hosts a variety of summer activities and celebrations, a summer snowboard and ski camp (June), the Midnight Sun Paragliding Fly-In (in July), the Classic Alyeska Mountain Run (Aug. 11) and the Blueberry and Mountain Arts Festival (Aug. 11). Other activities at the resort include tandem paragliding, downhill mountain biking, guided glacier hikes, hiking Winner Creek Trail, helicopter-serviced glacier sled-dog tours and snowmobiling, and a number of dining options. RV parking is available.

Where: 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood

Cost: Varies

Phone: 754-1111

Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

Begich, Boggs Visitor Center

The popular center overlooks Portage Lake and is surrounded by the Chugach and Kenai mountains. Exhibits focus on Portage Valley, Prince William Sound, glaciers, wild weather, Alaska animals and stories about Alaskans. A 20-minute film, "Voices From the Ice," is shown twice hourly with a $1 admission charge. Interpretive presentations or walks are offered daily, including the Iceworm Safari Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. There are hiking trails from the center, and icebergs from Portage Glacier often drift within view. There is a bookstore operated by the Alaska Natural History Association. A wing of the visitor center, the Portage Valley Learning Center, will offer Summer Forest Explorer Programs in 2007.

Where: Portage Glacier Highway, off the Seward Highway

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day weekend to Oct. 1

Cost: Free

Phone: 783-2326

Web: www.fs.fed.us/r10/chugach/chugach_pages/bbvc.html

Crow Creek Mine

The working mine, on the National Register of Historic Places, gives visitors the opportunity to strike it rich. The first gold strike here was made in 1898. Today, visitors may enjoy the beautiful gardens and grounds, explore the old buildings and or take a trip to the panning shed to pick up their equipment before heading to the creek to search for gold. The site includes eight original buildings that have been restored. The area around the buildings is wheelchair-accessible. Overnight camping is available.

Where: Three miles up Crow Creek Road, off the Alyeska Highway

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 15 to Oct. 1

Cost: $3 admission plus $5 to pan for gold; children younger than 12 get in free and pay $4 to pan; camping is $5 per night

Phone: 278-8060, 278-8061

Web: crowcreekgoldmine.com

Girdwood Center for Visual Arts

The center is a nonprofit organization featuring solo and group exhibits, workshops and an artists' cooperative gallery. The gallery features fine art and gifts from about 40 Alaska artists, including paintings, ceramics, weaving, jewelry, glass and woodworking.

Where: Olympic Mountain Loop (near the Bake Shop)

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Cost: Free admission

Phone: 783-3209

Girdwood Forest Fair

The 32nd annual fair provides arts and crafts lovers an opportunity to browse through dozens of booths featuring items handcrafted by Alaskans. Live music is provided throughout the weekend. There is a parade July 7.

Where: Mile 2.2 Alyeska Highway

When: July 6-8

Cost: Free admission

Phone: 569-2229

Web: www.girdwoodforestfair.com

Indian-to-Girdwood Trail

The paved trail follows Turnagain Arm for a dozen miles near the Seward Highway, which was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1998. The trail continues to Alyeska Resort. There are several pullouts and outstanding viewpoints, including the Bird Point rest area. The trail was named a National Recreation Trail in 2006.

Where: Indian to Alyeska Resort

When: Open daily

Cost: Free

Indian Valley Mine

Learn how to pan for gold at this mine that started with a claim along Turnagain Arm in 1910. The miner's cabin and the assay office are on the National Register of Historic Places. Gold panning is available.

Where: Mile 104 Seward Highway

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, May 15 to Sept. 15

Cost: $1; $3 to $50 to pan for gold

Phone: 653-1120

Web: www.indianvalleymine.com

Portage Glacier Cruises

Portage Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to view in Southcentral Alaska, and Gray Line offers one-hour cruises on Portage Lake to within a few hundred yards of the glacier. The MV Ptarmigan weaves through iceberg-dotted waters on a narrated tour. Tours can be booked at the Anchorage office, 745 W. Fourth Ave.

Where: Portage Lake Road

When: 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. 4:30 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September

Cost: $29 adults, $14.50 children ages 12 and younger

Phone: 277-5581

Web: www.graylineofalaska.com

WHITE-WATER RAFTING

Chugach Outdoor Center

The center offers a pair of trips through Sixmile Creek's Class IV and V canyons. The company also offers scenic Resurrection River float trips near Seward, kayaking on Kenai Lake, and rafting near Denali National Park and on the Talkeetna River.

Where: Mile 7.5 Hope Highway

Cost: Varies

Phone: 277-RAFT, 1-866-277-RAFT

Web: www.chugachoutdoorcenter.com

Class V Whitewater Inc.

The company features a variety of itineraries and offers trips on Sixmile Creek. It also has scenic float trips on the Portage River and fly-and-float trips on the Twentymile River. It also offers the Glacier Explorer Canoe trip, where participants paddle a Native-style canoe on iceberg-filled Spencer Lake. The trip includes a ride aboard the Alaska Railroad.

Where: Girdwood

Cost: Varies

Phone: 783-4354

Web: www.alaskanrafting.com

Nova

The company has several trips in Alaska, including one down Sixmile Creek. Nova has guided oar rafting with paddle assistance or paddle rafting. It also offers day and multiday trips on the Matanuska, Talkeetna, Copper, Tana and Kings rivers.

Where: Hope and Chickaloon

Cost: Varies

Phone: 1-800-746-5753

Web: www.novalaska.com

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