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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Beyond the sea

One of Seward's big events is a July 4 race up and down Mount Marathon overlooking the town's small-boat harbor.

Anchorage Daily News

One of Seward's big events is a July 4 race up and down Mount Marathon overlooking the town's small-boat harbor.

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Seward offers more than Alaska's most accessible glacier and biggest 4th of July party.

Seward is a decidedly adventurous town by any standard. People plunge into icy waters in January, race down near-vertical shale-covered mountains on the Fourth of July and belly up to crashing glaciers in tiny plastic capsules. But regardless of your comfort level with such extremes, there are experiences geared for you in this history- rich port.

Seward's history harkens back to early efforts to build a rail line from the water to the mineral-rich Interior. Its value to mariners as one of a handful of ice-free ports steered development as a major deep-water port, drawing industrial vessels, as well as a steady stream of cruise ships.

For the visitor, Seward has much to offer. Its location -- sandwiched between some of the world's most breathtaking fjords and mountains -- provides plenty of outdoor opportunities, while a well- developed array of tourist- related businesses roll out the red carpet for those traveling through this seaside community.

By land

No trip to Seward would be complete without a trip to the Alaska SeaLife Center, where you can come nose to nose with a sea lion and watch a puffin plummet through the water in search of food. The SeaLife Center is much more than a tourist attraction, however. It is an ocean wildlife rescue center tasked with sharing scientific knowledge where more than 100 staff members focus on research, rehabilitation and education. Experiences with marine wildlife that could otherwise only be had through extensive time and travel are brought to shore at the SeaLife Center, providing visitors with an extraordinary opportunity to learn about this expansive part of Alaska's environment.

Another chance to expand your knowledge about all things Alaska comes from a visit to the Seward Museum. Seward not only has deep roots in Alaska's Native culture and development but was dramatically impacted by the 1964 earthquake. The museum houses a collection of images and artifacts from this time and gives visitors a chance to explore this and other parts of Alaska's history.

By sea

Everywhere you look in Seward, water is in the forefront. Fishing, especially for salmon, is a major draw in this area, where the Seward Silver Salmon Derby attracts anglers from around the world. The 2010 winner took home $10,000 for his 18.89-pound fish. The derby is held on the second Saturday of August each year, but fishing for salmon in the area is excellent most of the summer, and dozens of charter vessels are at visitors' disposal out of Seward.

If fishing isn't your thing, there are other ways to experience the waters surrounding Seward. Numerous motorized tour boats offer sightseeing adventures ranging from a few hours to a few days of the area's amazing glaciers, fjords and marine life. For the more adventurous, kayak tours offer plenty of opportunity to experience Alaska in a awe-inspiring manner.

By foot

Staying on terra firma doesn't mean Seward has anything less to offer. The area abounds with hiking and sightseeing opportunities. From the mellow one-mile Two Lakes Trail near town to the epic experience of racing up and down more than 3,000 feet of rocks and mud during the Mount Marathon Race on July 4, Seward's opportunities for the outdoors enthusiast are plentiful. Nearby Exit Glacier is a must-see for most visitors, providing a chance to view one of Alaska's mighty ice forms with relative ease or climb above the glacier for a more in-depth look.

Seward Attractions

Alaska SeaLife Center

The center serves as a marine research center, as well as an educational institution with 55,000 square feet of exhibit space where visitors can observe live animals ranging from a 2,000-pound Steller sea lion to the missilelike diving puffins.

Where: 301 Railway Ave.

When: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, May 15 to Sept. 19; winter hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Cost: $20 adults, $15 children ages 12-17, $10 children ages 4-11; family and group discounts

Phone: 907-224-7908, 888-378-2525

Web: www.alaskasealife.org

Seward Museum

The Seward Museum is a great place to get a sense of one of Alaska's earliest communities, from its early days as the starting point of the Iditarod Trail to its use as an early ship-building port.

Where: 336 Third Ave.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, mid-May through mid-September; winter hours 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, groups on request during off-season

Cost: $3 for adults; 50 cents, ages 5-18

Phone: 907-224-3902

Kenai Fjords National Park

Arguably the greatest asset of the Seward area is its natural surroundings, with fjords diving into calving glaciers, coves and beaches prime for the discovering and mountains soaring into the sky. One of the more accessible features of the park is Exit Glacier, located at Mile 8.6 of the Herman Leirer/Exit Glacier Road. There, you can take an easy stroll to various views of the glacier, or launch a longer hike on the Harding Icefield Trail. The Exit Glacier Nature Center is open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day with daily ranger programs. The park also has extensive coastline accessible by tour boats and a variety of kayak expedition companies. Public-use cabins are available for a fee in the park, and Exit Glacier has a 12-site walk-in tent campground.

Where: Outside Seward

When: Open daily year-round. Exit Glacier Road closed to cars in winter but open to skis, snowshoes, snowmachines and dogsleds.

Cost: Free; tours have a range of prices

Phone: 907-422-0500

Web: www.nps.gov/kefj

Seward Information Center, Kenai Fjords

Located near the small boat harbor, this information center has interpretive displays of the Kenai Fjords National Park as well as maps, brochures and publications. Videos area available on request.

Where: 1212 Fourth St.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily,

Memorial Day to Labor Day; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. rest of year

Phone: 907-224-7500

Seward Events

Fourth of July and Mount Marathon Race

Experiencing a population explosion on the 4th of July from 2,500 to some 40,000 people, Seward's downtown area becomes virtually blocked off to anything but pedestrian traffic. The premier event: a footrace up and down the mile-and-a-half-high trail on Mount Marathon complete with cliffs, waterfalls and scree fields draws competitors from around the world. Fireworks displays, an abundance of street vendors and the annual Main Street Parade are only a few of the events to expect during this bustling holiday atmosphere.

Where: Seward

When: July 4

Cost: Varies by event

Phone: 907-224-8051 (Seward Chamber of Commerce)

Web: www.seward.com/news-events/july4th.htm

Seward Silver Salmon Derby

For anglers seeking the adventure of catching one of the most notoriously feisty sportfish, the silver (or coho) salmon, Seward offers its annual Silver Salmon Derby. With a first prize of $10,000 for the largest fish caught during the tournament and a grand total of $225,000 available in money and daily prizes, shore fishermen, personal boaters and those choosing to hire charter vessels can experience the fun.

Where: Resurrection Bay

When: August 13-21, 2011

Cost: Daily tickets are $10. Tickets for the full event are $50

Phone: 907-224-8051

Web: directory.seward.com/events/details/seward-silver-salmon-derby

More information

Phone: 907-224-5560

Web: www.sewardinformation.com

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