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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Girdwood, 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

Wildlife

Scenic

Places

Events

Activities

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

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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

Denali

Marvelous Mat-Su

Copper River valley

Fairbanks

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

Celebrations

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

Outdoors, arts and fine dining

Just outside Girdwood, the Crow Pass Trail is a feast for the eyes, with waterfalls, glaciers, rivers and lakes. I had hiked only four miles of the steady ascent and already my feet were tired and my pack had grown heavy. All I could think about was going back to Girdwood and devouring a cheeseburger. But I still had a ways to go to my destination, Raven Glacier, less than half the way to the trail's end in Eagle River.

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

Lodging

Charters and tours

The trail follows an original part of the historic Iditarod Trail and skirts remnants of old mines. Above the tree line at 3,400 feet is a small cabin just across from the brilliant glacier-blue waters of Crystal Lake. If you're lucky or smart enough to have booked in advance, you can stay in this rustic lodging for free. Not being one to plan anything too far in advance, I slept in my tent near Raven Glacier. Needless to say, even in the peak of summer, it proved to be a cold night.

Although my campground that night is not one I would ever suggest to anyone, the view was splendid. There is nothing like sitting in the mountains and looking down into the white and blue crevasses of an enormous world of ice, even though Raven Glacier, two miles long and a half-mile wide, is relatively small by Alaska standards.

Crow Pass Trail is one of many trails that border Girdwood, a small community 40 miles south of Anchorage that offers a wide and varied assortment of outdoor activities, as well as arts and fine dining. It's an ideal day trip at any time of year for travelers making Anchorage their home base.

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 250-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., Girdwood

WHEN: June 1 to Sept. 15

COST: $195

PHONE: 301-1215

WEB: alaskaparagliding.com

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation programs and education. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals and is currently home to more than 150 animals, including brown bears, black bears, moose, musk oxen, caribou, bison, raptors and more. Visitors can see the only herd of wood bison in the United States. Drive or walk through the scenic 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: $10 adults, $7.50 seniors, military and children ages 4-12; $35 maximum per car

PHONE: 783-2025

WEB: alaskawildlife.org

Alpine Air Alaska Inc. and Alyeska Dog Team adventures

Take a helicopter flight from Girdwood and enjoy Alaska's scenic beauty. The company offers flightseeing trips and glacier landings in the Chugach Mountains and Prince William Sound. Or combine two spectacular events in one trip. After a glacial landing, meet a musher and his huskies. Learn how to drive the sled yourself or simply take a ride.

WHERE: Girdwood Airport Road

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily

COST: Varies

PHONE: 783-2360

WEB: 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 the mountain via 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, $18 ride ends 2,300 feet above sea level with spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and several surrounding glaciers. The Roundhouse Museum 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, the Midnight Sun Paragliding Fly-In and concerts. Other activities at the resort include spa services, tandem paragliding, 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

WHEN: Daily

COST: Varies

PHONE: 754-1111

WEB: 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. Interpretive presentations or walks are offered daily, including the Iceworm Safari on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. There are hiking trails from the center, and icebergs from Portage Glacier often drift into view. There is a bookstore.

WHERE: Portage Glacier Highway, off the Seward Highway

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day weekend through September

COST: Free; $3 adults for movie and exhibits

PHONE: 783-2326

WEB: fs.fed.us/r10/chugach/chugach_pages/bbvc.html

Chair Five Restaurant

An original Alaskan roadhouse, locally owned and operated for 27 years. Pool table, jukebox, seven flat-screen TVs and great food.

WHERE: 171 Linblad St.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; bar open until 1 a.m.

PHONE: 227-7729

WEB: chairfive.com

Crow Creek Mine

The working mine, on the National Register of Historic Places and featured on NBC's "America's Toughest Jobs," gives visitors the opportunity to strike it rich. The first gold strike here was made in 1896. Today, visitors can enjoy the beautiful gardens and grounds, explore the buildings 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 and mining equipment left by the old miners. 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 Sept. 15

COST: $5 admission; gold panning is $15 adults, $10 seniors and active military and $5 for children younger than 7

PHONE: 229-3105

WEB: www.crowcreekmine.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 more than 40 Alaska artists, including paintings, ceramics, weaving, jewelry, glass and woodworking.

WHERE: Olympic Mountain Loop (next to the Bake Shop)

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

COST: Free

PHONE: 783-3209

Girdwood Forest Fair

The fair features Alaska artists, handcrafted items, exotic foods and entertainers from all over the state. The Forest Fair Parade is 11 a.m. July 4.

WHERE: Mile 2.2 Alyeska Highway

WHEN: July 3-5

COST: Free

PHONE: 569-2229

WEB: 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; there are several parking spots

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; $5 to $100 to pan for gold

PHONE: 653-1120

WEB: 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: 888-452-1737

WEB: graylinealaska.com

Spencer Glacier whistle-stop tour

A partnership between the Alaska Railroad and Chugach National Forest provides access to the backcountry aboard the railroad. Passengers can hop off the train at the Spencer Whistle Stop for a narrated three-mile hike with a ranger.

WHERE: Portage to Spencer Glacier and back

WHEN: Daily

COST: Starting at $64

PHONE: 265-2494, 800-544-0552, 783-2326, 783-3001

WEB: alaskarailroad.com/ Destinations/SpencerGlacier/ tabid/137/Default.aspx

WHITEWATER 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

WHEN: Summer season

COST: Varies

PHONE: 277-7238, 866-277-7238

WEB: 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. Also available is the popular Glacier Explorer Canoe trip, where participants paddle a Native-style canoe on iceberg-filled Spencer Lake. The trip includes a ride on the Alaska Railroad.

WHERE: Girdwood

WHEN: Summer

COST: Varies

PHONE: 783-4354

WEB: alaskanrafting.com

Nova

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

WHERE: Hope and Chickaloon

WHEN: Summer

COST: Varies

PHONE: 800-746-5753

WEB: nova-alaska.com n

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