Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

Anchorage: 33°/50°/Mostly cloudy

Fairbanks: 29°/50°/Partly sunny

Juneau: 38°/54°/Cloudy

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Kodiak, Alaska

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More Alaska cities and towns

On and off the road system, Alaska is dotted with cities, towns and villages that give the state its real character.

Early-riser hooks late Ship Creek derby winner

Robert Hayes kneels in the boat that he won during the Downtown Soup Kitchen's Slam'n Salm'n Derby after he caught a 40.97-pound king salmon June 15, 2008, the derby's final day. The event will bring in about $30,000 to feed the homeless, or about 15 percent of the kitchen's annual budget.

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.

Ice fishing in June?

Two fly-fishing anglers in search of rainbow trout in the Chugach State Park on June 23,2008, discovered that Rabbit Lake is still locked in winter's icy grip. Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials reported the lake was ice free, but it was bad information. Depending on the weather, it could be mid-July before anglers can catch and release the rainbows Fish and Game stocks in Rabbit Lake.

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.

Dipping for red gold

A sunset lights up the Kasilof River while dozens of dipnetters work at catching red salmon July 13, 2008.

The Kasilof beach is cool and calm at 10 a.m. on Monday as Yolanda Thomas emerges from her family-sized tent for a morning of dipnetting on the shore of the Kasilof River.

Caribou slaighter near Point Hope leaves calves stranded

Back on his home turf

Catching every drop

Alaska fishing licenses

Fishing in Alaska's regions

Halibut and more

River rafting in Alaska

Hunting in Alaska

King salmon (chinook)

Hiking and climbing

Kayaking: Wonderful water

Kayaking in Alaska

Camping in Alaska

History lessons

Go bruin viewin'

Camping in comfort

Anchorage is on pace for record bear kills






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

Guide Advertiser Index

Destination: Denali

Denali Park

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

Valdez: A bright spot

Bigger than bears

Cooper Landing: Small town, big fun

Southeast Alaska: Big adventure

Soldotna: A river town



A quick driving lesson can help visitors

Summer daylight means pleasant temperatures

You're here, learn to speak 'Alaskan'

Welcome: If you live here -- or are just visiting -- you're lucky

Catch the wave, but stay away from the mud flats

A good day of sightseeing at Kenai Fjords National Park

24/48: Fairbanks

Bear-viewing options

What not to ask

Kayak operators

Questions to ask

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

Valley waters: Anglers discover outstanding fishing just outside Anchorage

Mat-Su area: Museums, mine, State Fair and animals draw visitors

Gateways to Chugach State Park

Alaska culture: Where and when?

An explosive past

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

Golden destination: Hikers and history buffs all enjoy Hatcher Pass

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

Wild water: A trip down an Alaska river will leave rafters cheering

Lake Clark National Park's scenery and remoteness impress

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

Sea kayaks give paddlers a different lifestyle

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

Cozy cabins: Public-use facilities aren't fancy but they're fun

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

Lure of history

Hatcher Pass, mine area rich in history, outdoor activities

Embrace the light

Denali: Bus goes only so far

Talkeetna: Mountain majesty

Wrangell-St. Elias: Wilderness wonder

UAF tours

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

DENALI: Bus tours, flightseeing and rafting in McKinley's shadow

Cabin Comfort

Kasilof River gets overshadowed by bigger Kenai

Mat-Su magic

In summer, quirky Talkeetna keeps busy with visitors

Southeast has everything one would hope to find in Alaska

Explore Soldotna

Whittier is the place for glacier cruises, fishing, kayaking

'Little Switzerland' an eye-catching glimpse of Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park makes Seward a must-see spot

Wrangell-St. Elias offers millions of acres, few visitors

Art and birding also make the town of Kenai a good catch

Bore tide an exciting sight on Turnagain Arm

Splendid Seward

Homer: Beautiful bay

Cordova: No road, no problem

Hatcher Pass, mine area rich in history, outdoor activities

Mat-Su area

Girdwood is a great starting point for time away from town

Kodiak: Emerald Isle offers up festivals, museums and fun

Eagle River

Turnagain Arm


Marvelous Mat-Su

Copper River valley


Alaska: Infinite adventure

Summer light brings pleasant temperatures

Dining delights

Anglers' Shangri-La

Metropolitan Anchorage

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

DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE: Don't miss the parks, museums, flowers and history

KODIAK: Enjoy the Emerald Isle's festivals, fish and museums

Fabulous fishing

Silver salmon season

Get an early start

In-town wildlife

Alaska Souvenires: Good memories

Metropolitan Anchorage

Downtown Anchorage

Flight seeing: View from above

Hiking heaven

Family-friendly fun


Sounds of Alaska

Off the time clock

Bore tide: Timing is everything to catch unusual wave

Budget some fun

Whittier: Sound springboard

Remember Alaska: Think 'art,' not 'souvenir,' when collecting memories of travels

METRO Anchorage: Give attention to animals, parks, planes and blooms

MAT-SU: State Fair, Alaska animals, mine, museums are highlights

GPS users, golfers, runners and disc golfers enjoy outdoors

Water, wild or calm: Trips range from multiday thrills to a lovely, serene afternoon

VALDEZ: Sound town's highlights include Gold Rush and glaciers

TURNAGAIN ARM: Girdwood, Portage and Hope offer outdoor adventures

KENAI PENINSULA: Parks, wildlife, glaciers and fishing fill up the days

Tired of the same-old trips? Try out these adventures

Current and former mushers offer tours of their kennels

Alaska children share their favorite things to do around here

Flightseeing trips open up Alaska's roadless wonders

FAIRBANKS: Midnight sun, Gold Rush history are Interior highlights

Two-wheel wonders

Kachemak Bay provides a perfect backdrop for Homer

Hatcher Pass is rich in history, outdoor activities

Fairbanks in the summertime is an explosion of activity

Kodiak stays wild

Mount McKinley and wildlife attract visitors to Denali

Alaska's Denali visitor center a showcase of green technologies

Cordova's off-the-road location gives it 'Alaska' feel

The water's fine and so is the view in Cooper Landing

The bear facts

Speak 'Alaskan'

Summer light brings pleasant temperatures

Whether it's mountains or fish, bigger is the way in Alaska

Floater's paradise: 'Belly boats' allow anglers an intimate fishing experience

Hooking a halibut : Experienced charter captains make the search successful

Prime Valley fishing makes the trip worthwhile

Silvers in season

Kenai River attracts anglers from around the world

Salmon and clams add to the fun on Kachemak Bay

From clams to kings

Valley virtues

Riding the sky

Big catch, big cash

Urban encounters: Finding wildlife in town not hard if you know where to go

Fun for free: There's lots to see and do that won't involve your wallet

Hit the trails: Whether hiking or biking, Anchorage has plenty to offer

Catch local musicians and Outside acts at Anchorage hot spots

Dining: Seafood dominates the menu at local restaurants

Do it in a day

Culture: Drumbeat of Native dancers can be highlight of a summer visit

Festivals: Summer festivals focus on fish, music and fun

BIKING: Pedaling paradise

SHOPPING: Savvy souvenirs

HIKING: Hiking heaven

DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE: Parks, museums, flowers and history fascinate

DAY TRIPS: Adventure awaits a short drive outside Anchorage

DINING OUT: A taste of place

FESTIVALS: Music, food and airplanes are summer festival highlights

NIGHTLIFE: Bar basics

DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE: Parks, museums, flowers and history fascinate

METRO ANCHORAGE: Animals, parks, planes and blooms are worth attention

Mat-Su, Kenai Peninsula, Prince William Sound, Copper River accommodations

Inside Passage lodging: Juneau, Ketchikan and more

Western Alaska lodging: Kodiak, Nome, Bethel and more

Northern Alaska lodging: Barrow and Kotzebue

Interior lodging and restaurants: Fairbanks, Denali and more

Anchorage-area hotels, B&Bs, hostels, lodges and resorts

Lodging in Alaska

Tourist, be aware

Accessible Alaska

Medical care

Weddings in Alaska

Special-interest travel

Ferry times to Alaska

Flight time to Anchorage

Getting to Alaska

Maps of Alaska

Rental cars in Alaska

Highways: The way to really see Alaska

Getting around in Alaska

Alaska FAQs

Find a less pricey room with a view

Activities on a budget

Cut dining costs

Cut transportation costs for big savings

Beat the high cost of an Alaska vacation

Livengood, Alaska

Anchorage commercial real estate looking up

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Fishing, whale-watching and Alutiiq history

At 3,588 square miles, Kodiak Island is the second-largest island in the United States, after the Big Island of Hawaii. And that's only counting the island itself. Combine it with all of the other islands that make up the Kodiak archipelago and the place grows to more than 6,500 square miles.

Kodiak services
Click on a link to receive a directory of businesses that can help you make the most of your stay in the Kodiak area.


Charters and tours

That's a lot of land to cover.

From her office at the Kodiak Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, executive director Janet Buckingham is trying to see to it that more and more visitors come here to view that land. For a truly Alaska experience, she said, there is no better place to venture.

"We believe that people want to visit Kodiak because it offers an authentic Alaskan experience as opposed to a more gentrified tourist destination," she said. "It has not substantially changed over the years. Commercial fishing is still the backbone of our economy and gives the town a unique character that may have been lost in other Alaska destinations."

Evidence of this authenticity can be seen throughout the town and outlying areas. Kodiak has maintained its working-man feel while still offering plenty of amenities to the visitor. It's not uncommon to see commercial fishermen swabbing the decks of their fishing vessels or repairing their nets, but it's also not difficult to find a hotel or bed and breakfast that can meet your every need.

Hardware stores are next to gift shops and the visitor center can accommodate cannery workers or cruise ship passengers. It's a place with no pretensions, comfortable the moment you step off the plane or boat.

In other words, Buckingham said, what you see is what you get.

"Kodiak (is) the real Alaska," she said. "Everyone else says it, but frankly, we are it. I know it is a cliché, but doggone it, we are the authentic Alaska. We are still pure. Nothing has changed to accommodate tourism (obviously there are some drawbacks to that, but overall it keeps the town real). Every shop is unique and owned locally. There are few 'trinket and T-shirt' shops. There are crab pots sitting everywhere. Fishermen working on the piers. And friendly, friendly people who are ready to drop what they are doing and talk to you about the town they love so much."

Of course, fishing has a huge presence in Kodiak, where the diversity of the region supports fishing for salmon and halibut as well as other commercial species. For recreational anglers, this is one of the draws, as is bear viewing, since Kodiak is home to one of the highest concentrations of brown bears on the planet.

But Buckingham said tourism is shifting just a bit, opening up new avenues of recreation and exploration for visitors to this area.

"More and more people are interested in ecotourism such as hiking, bicycling, kayaking, beachcombing and wildlife viewing," she said. "Kodiak offers world-class whale watching with several species of whales including gray, humpback, sei, orca and fin whales."

Most of the whales first show up in springtime and often hang around until early October, she said, with the exception of the orcas.

"(They) generally make their appearance in late winter as they cruise the channel looking for sea lions that might make a tasty meal," she said.

Because Kodiak's climate is dominated by a strong marine influence -- which means it often rains or is foggy -- the landscape benefits from all that moisture. In the summer, the island turns a rich, multicolored green, with the mountainsides bursting in wildflowers and plants shooting up taller than a grown man.

While Buckingham said her favorite time of year is autumn, when the landscape turns shockingly golden with the changing season, most people prefer summer.

"Summer is everyone's favorite time because the temperature's warm and the mountains turn green," she said. "There are shades of green here that are simply not found anywhere else on Earth -- certainly way more shades of green than you would find in your crayon box. Kodiak really comes alive in the summer, not just with people, but wildflowers -- and let's not forget the return of the comical puffin."

Kodiak also is a place rich in history, dating thousands of years to the Alutiiq Natives who first called the place home. There also is a rich Russian Orthodox influence, as seen throughout town in some of the oldest buildings in Alaska.

"The Alutiiq Museum ... celebrates our Native cultures," Buckingham said. "Here visitors can find Alutiiq artifacts, art, workshops and in-depth information about our Native American heritage.

"The Baranov Museum is housed in the oldest building in Alaska and the earliest documented log structure on the West Coast of the United States."

The building originally was constructed as a warehouse to store fur seal and sea otter furs harvested by the Russian American Co.

Other museums worth visiting include the Military History Museum at Fort Abercrombie State Park, which documents the military presence in Kodiak during World War II, and the Kodiak Island Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, which opened in 2007 and serves as a natural-history destination for those wishing to learn more about the region's flora and fauna.

"(It) houses wonderful interactive displays that especially appeal to families," Buckingham said. "Visitors can learn about all the wildlife that inhabits the island; children can hear a baby bear heartbeat and a variety of bird calls as well as learn about the life cycle of the salmon."

Also popular, she said, is the Kodiak Maritime Museum, which consists of a series of interpretive panels spaced throughout St. Paul Harbor, informing visitors about the commercial fishing industry, types of vessels, fish life cycles, marine mammals and more.

While tourism is growing slowly, Buckingham said she doubts Kodiak will ever lose its identity. She can't see it ever becoming a tourist trap with blinking neon lights.

"Tourism has remained essentially steady over the past few years, but we have seen a tripling of the number of cruise ships that call on Kodiak," she said. "While that sounds scary to some people, we are still only talking about 24 ships a year and we can only host one ship at a time. What we hear from folks on board ships is that they like Kodiak because it is so different from other ports of call. They are excited to discover it is a quiet little fishing village; it stands out from other ports in Alaska."


Outdoor and adventure travel writer Melissa DeVaughn can be reached at

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