Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

Anchorage: 36°/52°/Cloudy

Fairbanks: 32°/55°/Partly sunny

Juneau: 32°/54°/Partly sunny

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Homer, 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

The Homer Spit beckons visitors with arts, shopping and adventures

Topping Baycrest Hill on the drive into Homer, it's difficult not to get hung up on the mountains. The giant, jagged sentinels rimming Kachemak Bay are strewn with glaciers and trimmed with ice and snow, cutting an impressive visual skyline between the blue sky above and blue-green water below.

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


Charters and tours

They're certainly worth a look, especially if you stop at the overlook pullout atop Baycrest Hill with its viewing machines and its interpretive signs pointing out the different peaks. It's also worth taking a water taxi across from the Homer Spit to Kachemak Bay State Park, where hiking trails lead visitors up to glaciers, lakes, cabins and campsites.

But don't get so hung up on the mountains that you forget to look down. The community of Homer stretches out beneath the hill, with the Homer Spit jutting out into the bay, beckoning visitors to come explore.

Homer is an eclectic mix, part blue-collar fishing village and part artist retreat. A robust charter fishing fleet, water taxi service and kayak rentals are geared toward helping people play in the bay. And when they make landfall again, there are unique shops, funky cafes, gourmet restaurants, bars grooving with personality and a diverse arts, theater, music and cultural scene to attract attention.

But look beyond all that, beneath the mountains and past the lively life on land, and there's yet another side of Homer to discover in the bay itself.

"Kachemak Bay is an absolutely incredible resource for anything from adventures to learning opportunities," said Dan Pascucci, a field coordinator for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.

CACS operates the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center on East Skyline Drive on the bluff overlooking Homer, with an interpretive log cabin and trail system. And it has the Peterson Bay Coastal Science Field Station across the bay from the Homer Spit, where field coordinators lead forest walks, science camps and beach excursions to explore the bay's marine ecology.

Kachemak Bay has a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem and a large tidal range, so when the tide is low, beach explorers have a chance to see what's under the sea.

"It's amazing to people who have never been to a beach to go tide-pooling, and people who have been to the beach to go tide-pooling. We've had doctorates in ocean science come out and have their minds blown because it's such a spectacularly diverse area," Pascucci said.

"The hope is the experience and the understanding will create an appreciation for that space, and that the appreciation they get for Kachemak Bay is something they can carry with them after that, back to Florida or Germany or wherever, and say, 'Wow, that place was really cool. Maybe I can learn more about the place I'm coming from.' "

Homer offers myriad opportunities for learning. Along with the facilities operated by CACS, the Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street is a must-see destination, with exhibits that examine the culture, history and ecology of the area in interactive, thought-provoking and ever-developing ways.

The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center along the Sterling Highway is a great spot to while away an hour or an afternoon.

"We've always got something going on," said Marianne Aplin, visitor center manager. "There are outdoor hikes and activities, but also indoor talks and some great films by Alaska Geographic. There are lots of high-tech and hands-on exhibits that are an interesting way to spend the afternoon, no matter what the weather is."

The center has art and interpretive displays to wander through, highlighting the history, culture and ecology of both the local Kachemak Bay area and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, stretching all along the coast of Alaska.

A summer photography exhibit, "Islands of Life," celebrating the centennial of the maritime refuge, will open May 21. Birders will especially enjoy the Seabird Experience Theater and seabird informational displays, highlighted because the maritime refuge is the largest seabird refuge in the world and Kachemak Bay is home to an impressive quantity and variety of seabirds.

"There's just a great suite of programs -- beach walks and intertidal walks to slide shows, discovery labs and estuary walks," Aplin said.

Outside the center are trails leading through wetlands to Bishop's Beach, and regularly scheduled interpretive tours point out the wildlife, marine and plant life that can be seen along the way.

"There are pretty fabulous things to see. When 20 feet of seawater gets drawn back and you get to walk on the bottom of the ocean and see anything from sea stars to octopus, it's pretty amazing," Aplin said.

Discovery labs offer a hands-on look at the research that goes on at the center.

"It's just a wonderful interaction," Aplin said. "We always have something for very young children, and some stations offer more cerebral material. You get a whole menu of activities and tables to choose from and can decide how long you want to spend in there. Some people may spend five minutes, some folks spend an hour."

The biggest challenge in Homer isn't finding something to do; it's finding the time to fit in everything there is to do.

"There are a lot of great places to eat, and music and incredible artists," Pascucci said. "Everyone who lives there is so impacted by the mountains and the bay and people are making beautiful art and music. It's a place that knows what to do with its beauty."


Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby

The largest and longest-running jackpot derby in Alaska awards more than $190,000, including prizes for the overall winner, monthly winners, tagged fish, a drawing among released fish and kids' winners. Last year's overall winner, Thomas Youngblood of Homer, got $40,440 for his 354.6-pound fish.

WHERE: Leave from and return to Homer Harbor

WHEN: May 1 to Sept. 30

COST: $10 daily; 10-day ticket for $75

PHONE: 907-235-7740



Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

This four-day festival has gone to the birds, with birding expeditions on both land and sea, workshops, writing events, music, kids' activities and entertainment. Keynote speaker will be Peter Harrison, a professional birder, artist, screenwriter and author of "Seabirds: An Identification Guide," who was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the title of Member of the British Empire for services to natural history.

WHERE: Homer

WHEN: May 6 to 9

COST: Varies by event

PHONE: 907-235-7740


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