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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EAGLE RIVER: Hiking, history and Highland Games keep visitors busy

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Scottish Highland Games

Enjoy a taste of Scotland at the annual Highland Games in Eagle River. Events include several Scottish "heavy events," like the hammer throw and caber toss. There will be piping and drumming competitions, Scottish Highland dancing, clan tent displays, storytelling, historical reenactments, a display of vintage British cars, a Celtic rock band and vendors. Previews of the piping competitions will be at noon June 29 in downtown Anchorage.

Where: Lions Park, Eagle River Road

When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 30

Cost: $15 adults, $5 children, free children younger than 5

Phone: 770-4967

Web: www.alaskascottish.org

Alpenglow at Arctic Valley

The wintertime ski area turns into a hiking and berry-picking haven in summer months. In late summer, the hills are covered with blueberries. There are beautiful views of downtown Anchorage, Cook Inlet and Mount McKinley. Picnic shelters and latrines are available.

Where: Arctic Valley Road, off Glenn Highway

Cost: $5 parking fee

Web: www.skialpenglow.com

Bear Paw Festival

The 22nd annual festival has activities for the entire family. It features the Slippery Salmon Olympics, entertainment, food, a teddy bear picnic, a rotten sneaker contest, a classic car show, a parade, karaoke, a motorcycle show and stunt-team demonstration, a dog-and-owner look-alike contest, a 300-yard "tribearathon" fun run, a 5-kilometer run and a Jammin' Salmon cook-off. The theme is "Pirates of the Bear-a-bean."

Where: Downtown Eagle River

When: July 11-15

Cost: Free

Phone: 694-4702

Web: www.cer.org

Eagle River Nature Center

A key entry point to Chugach State Park provides a wealth of information about local geology, birds, mammals and plant life through interpretive displays, programs and guided hikes. Outdoor telescopes and a handicapped-accessible trail and viewing deck make the visit more enjoyable. A public-use cabin and yurts can be rented. The center offers daily guided nature walks June through August to salmon and beaver viewing areas.

Where: Mile 12 Eagle River Road

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays to Sundays from June through August; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays in May and September

Cost: Free; $5 to park

Phone: 694-2108

Web: www.ernc.org

Eklutna Historical Park

The park is home to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The park shows a blending of the Native Athabascan culture with the influences of Russian Orthodox missionaries. It contains a sacred burial ground of the Dena'ina Athabascans with more than 80 "spirit houses." The 20-minute guided tour helps explain the Native and Orthodox traditions. Native arts and crafts and Russian gifts are available.

Where: Mile 26 Glenn Highway, Eklutna exit

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, mid-May to mid-September

Cost: $5 adults; $2.50 students, seniors and military; free children younger than 10

Phone: 688-6026

Web: www.dioceseofalaska.org

Tuesday Market

Get some of the best produce from Matanuska-Susitna-area farmers along with items from area artists and artisans. The market features many organic growers. Vendors bring fresh produce, herbs, flowers, jewelry and crafts.

Where: VFW parking lot, Eagle River Road

When: 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, June 5 to Sept. 25

Cost: Free

Phone: 696-4839

Thunderbird Falls

Take an easy one-mile hike - partially along a raised boardwalk - for a beautiful payoff: a 200-foot waterfall nestled in a deep canyon. A viewing platform makes it easier to get a good look at the falls. Kids and adults of all ages can enjoy the stroll.

Where: Mile 26 Glenn Highway

Cost: Free

Eagle River

White-water rafting and scenic float trips on Eagle River are an excellent way to get some excitement close to Anchorage. Lifetime Adventures offers scenic floats, white-water and combo trips. Special gear is provided.

Where: Eagle River

When: Daily

Cost: $30 to $75

Phone: 746-4644

Web: www.lifetimeadventures.net

Eklutna Lake

Kayaking, bicycling, hiking, fishing, canoeing, camping - you name it and the Chugach State Park's Eklutna Lake area is the destination. The seven-mile-long lake is the largest in the park. Boats must be carried from the parking lot to the lake. The 13-mile Lakeside Trail runs alongside the lake and is perfect for walkers or bicycle riders. Twin Peaks Trail is a 21u20442-mile trail that is rated moderate to difficult because of the trail's steepness. Bold Ridge Trail is a 31u20442-mile trail that begins at Mile 5 of the Lakeside Trail. There is a 50-site campground at the lake. Lifetime Adventures rents kayaks and bicycles at the lake.

Where: Eklutna Lake Road, exit at Mile 26 Glenn Highway

When: Open daily

Cost: $5 daily use fee; cost for bike or kayak rentals varies

Phone: 345-5014; 746-4644

Web: www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/chugach ; www.lifetime adven-tures.net

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