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: Enjoy the outdoors, history in Girdwood, Portage, Hope

Girdwood residents Justin Hibbs, front, and Conrad Wharton maneuver across a bridge on the Alderbaun Trail, part of the downhill mountain bike venue at Alyeska Resort.

Anchorage Daily News

Girdwood residents Justin Hibbs, front, and Conrad Wharton maneuver across a bridge on the Alderbaun Trail, part of the downhill mountain bike venue at Alyeska Resort.

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Metro attractions: Parks, animals and blooms get attention in Anchorage

Other Southeast gems worth seeing

24/48: Homer

24/48: Seward

What to know about the Denali Highway

Denali: Getting there

Parks and playgrounds in Anchorage

What locals say about Flattop

Anchorage: Don't miss the museum, market, music and parks

No matter the weather, Southeast is beautiful

Soldotna's many riverfront parks give it personality

Majestic Mat-Su: Glaciers, mountains, rivers and history give Valley life

One day out: Short trips away from Anchorage are full of adventure

Kenai Peninsula: Wildlife, fishing, glaciers and fun-filled days

Natural beauty: Kachemak Bay provides a stunning backdrop for Homer

The Great One: Postcard-perfect world and Mount McKinley await

Kodiak: Festivals, museums and lots of fun on the Emerald Isle

Vibrant Valdez: Natural and man-made attractions make community thrive

Highway to history: Road from Paxson to Cantwell is rough but worth the drive

24/48: Fairbanks

Bear-viewing options

If you go flightseeing

Get dirty: Off-road bike riding spots

First Friday art walk

Talkeetna time: Life in the small community moves at a different pace

Fun for everyone: Icebergs, wildlife and gold-panning will keep kids smiling

Turnagain Arm: Enjoy the outdoors, history in Girdwood, Portage, Hope

Mountains, glaciers, parkland define the biggest state

If you go roadside fishing

Kenai, Russian rivers are just the beginning for anglers

Fish and bears: Kodiak's bruins get so big because of all the salmon

Angling paradise: Seward has a line on halibut and salmon fishing

Fishing fever: Early-season anglers converge on the lower Kenai Peninsula

Fishing for fun: Kachemak Bay's waters are full of halibut and salmon

Water wonderland: Whittier is the place for fishing, cruising or kayaking

Seward's surroundings leave visitors gasping for breath

Bear essentials: Planned encounters with fishing grizzlies is a highlight

Copper Valley: History and wilderness join forces at Wrangell-St. Elias

Fairbanks: Enjoy nearly endless daylight, Gold Rush history

Gifts galore: From downtown markets to art galleries, options abound

Celebrations: Music and food are summer festival highlights

Flightseeing helps visitors grasp Alaska's immensity

Heaven on wheels: Trails across Anchorage, through wilderness keep cyclists moving

Wilderness wonder: Chugach State Park, city parks full of excitement

A touch of history: Old Town Kenai should be on the itinerary for visitors

Chefs turn the bounty of the sea into something beautiful

Lake Clark National Park's scenery and remoteness impress

Small but scenic: History, location combine to make Cooper Landing special

Denali Park: Ride horses, fly or raft in shadow of Mount McKinley

Valdez: From the Gold Rush to glaciers, Sound community has it all

Eagle River: Hiking, history and festivals keep visitors busy

Anchorage is blessed with plenty of spots to drink or dance

Stepping into history: From the airport to museums, Alaska shows off unique past

Peninsula hamlets: From Hope to Anchor Point, small towns are worth a stop

Fairbanks: Gold Rush history, weather extremes are part of the culture

UAF tours

Southeast Alaska: Off-the-roadway fishing at its finest

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The center is a nonprofit organization that cares for orphaned and injured animals. Its inhabitants include moose, brown bears, black bears, porcupine, elk, bison, caribou, musk ox, an eagle, Rocky Mountain elk and Sitka blacktail deer. Visitors can drive or walk through the 200-acre park and safely get an up-close look at the animals.

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 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 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Cost: Varies

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 tram, which climbs Mount Alyeska between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. beginning May 8 and until 9:30 p.m. beginning June 1. The five-minute ride ends 2,300 feet above sea level with spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and several 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 racing camp (June 10-13), the Alyeska 5-Kilometer Fun Run (July 2), the Midnight Sun Paragliding Fly-In (July 2-3), the Classic Alyeska Mountain Run (Aug. 6) and the Blueberry and Mountain Arts Festival (Aug. 6). 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.

Where: 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood

Phone: 754-1111

Web: www.alyeskaresort.com

Begich, Boggs Visitor Center

The center overlooking Portage Lake is one of the most visited sites in the area. Exhibits focus on Portage Valley, Prince William Sound, Alaska animals and stories about Alaskans. A 20-minute film, "Voices From the Ice," is shown several times daily with a $1 admission charge. Interpretive walks are offered daily, including the Iceworm Safari on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. New this year is a learning center with seating for 100 people. The center will allow the staff to offer interpretive presentations and movies at the same time. There are hiking trails right from the center, and icebergs from Portage Glacier often beach within viewing distance. There is a bookstore.

Where: Portage 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 make a trip to the panning shed to practice their skills and then head down to the creek with a shovel and bucket. The site also includes eight original buildings that have been restored. The area around the buildings is wheelchair-accessible. Overnight camping is available.

Where: 3 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: www.crowcreekgoldmine.com

Chugach Tandem Paragliding

Get a different look at Alaska -- from the sky with an experienced tandem paraglider. After a brief introduction, a pilot guides the paraglider around the skies of Girdwood to the valley floor. There is no age limit. The company also offers jetboat scenic and/or fishing trips on the Twentymile and Glacier rivers and ultralight trike instructional flights.

Where: Alyeska Resort, 1000 Arlberg Ave.

When: June to Oct. 1

Cost: Starting at $150

Phone: 754-2400

Web: www.alyeskaadventure.com

Girdwood Center for Visual Arts

The artists' cooperative features handcrafted art by dozens of local artists. On display are paintings, pottery, weaving, jewelry, glass, mosaics and photography.

Where: 678 Hightower Road

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 14 through September

Cost: Free admission

Phone: 783-3209

Girdwood Forest Fair

The 30th annual fair provides arts and craft lovers an opportunity to browse through dozens of booths featuring items handcrafted by Alaskans. Music is provided throughout the weekend. There is a parade July 2.

Where: Mile 2.2 Alyeska Highway

When: July 1-3

Cost: Free admission

Web: www.girdwoodforestfair.com

Indian-to-Girdwood Trail

The paved trail follows Turnagain Arm for 17 miles near the Seward Highway, which was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1998. There are several pullouts and outstanding viewpoints, including the Bird Point rest area.

Where: Indian to Alyeska Resort

When: Open daily

Cost: Free

Indian Valley Mine

The mine, with the gold claim started in 1910, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The prospector's cabin and the assay office were built before 1910. The museum features tools and other historical artifacts. Gold panning is available, with guaranteed gold discoveries.

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 easier glaciers to view in Southcentral Alaska. Gray Line offers one-hour cruises on Portage Lake to within about 300 yards of the glacier. Tours can be booked at the Anchorage office, 745 W. Fourth Ave.

Where: Portage Lake Road

When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, May to September

Cost: $26 adults, $13 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 the Sixmile Creek's canyons. The company also offers scenic Turnagain Pass float trips, kayaking on Kenai Lake, 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. The company also offers scenic float trips on the Portage River and fly-and-float trips on the Twentymile River.

Where: Girdwood

Cost: Varies

Phone: 783-2004

Web: www.alaskanrafting.com

Nova

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

Where: Chickaloon and Hope

Cost: Varies

Phone: 1-800-746-5753

Web: www.novalaska.com

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