With only weeks until I land in Anchorage, I have been busy studying my Lonely Planet and travel blogs to map out a route for the six weeks I will be spending there. I have also been squealing with excitement and jumping up and down – in private of course.
So for this long anticipated trip it would be very easy for me to give in to my control freak planning ways but I really wanted to keep things completely open and only book my accommodation and transport a few days in advance. That would probably have been fine if I was going in late August and September like I had originally planned but now that I will be travelling there in July, this just isn’t feasible as July is the peak tourist season in the State.
So my inner planning demon is happy that it has been let loose yet again. Luckily I can still change things as I go as most hostels allow free cancellation up to a few days before arrival so I do have some flexibility.
There are so many places that I would love to go that are remote and hard to access but due to timing, money and the fact that I am not comfortable travelling to some of these places by myself, they will have to wait until my next trip there when Trav joins me.
I am mainly sticking to the coast on this trip, as well as spending a few days exploring Denali National Park in the interior. I have put together an itinerary with the first two weeks booked in and the rest of it as yet unbooked and more vague.
Here’s the plan so far:
13th – 17th July Anchorage
Alaska’s biggest city and the first stop on my trip, I am looking forward to hiking Flattop Mountain, eating King crab at Humpy’s, and maybe biking the Tony Knowles Coastal trail.
17th – 21st July Seward
I want to head to this small Alaskan city for the beautiful surroundings and to explore Kenai Fjords National Park. I will be hiking above Exit Glacier and taking a long day trip deep into the fjords while I’m there.
21st – 24th/25th July Denali National Park
It wouldn’t be a trip to Alaska for an avid hiker like me without time in Denali National Park, so despite my nervousness of hiking among ALOT of bears I am going to go anyway. My nerves/common sense have stopped me wanting to do any backcountry camping solo but I want to do the 8.6 mile Triple Lakes trail (hopefully with new friends made at my hostel in Carlos Creek) and I will do a day trip on the park coach further into the park. This is the only way to get in there as private vehicles aren’t allowed past the 15 mile mark. I am also really hoping to get to the 49th State Brewing Company, located 10 miles north of the park in Healy, which has a replica of the bus that Chris McCandless died in, and that was used in the filming of the movie ‘Into the Wild’.
24th/25th – 26th/27th July Talkeetna
A small village with a view of Denali and popular with climbers, I wanted to spend a couple of nights here to stay in the iconic Talkeetna Roadhouse, explore the tiny historic town centre and just chill out.
After Talkeetna I will probably fly over to Juneau from Anchorage using my Qantas miles, maybe with a couple more days in Anchorage first if I feel the need. From here it becomes more vague and I’m not sure what order exactly I will be visiting each place in South East Alaska.
I suspect I will be visiting Juneau on probably two-three different occasions as a few of the places I want to visit can only be reached by ferry from Juneau meaning I will need to cross back through to then carry on to my next destination. That’s fine with me because it sounds like an amazing city. While there I want to hike the Mt Roberts Trail and catch the Mt Roberts Tramway back down, visit the Mendenhall Glacier and hopefully enter the ice caves there.
As there is no hostel in Skagway I would have to camp so whether I visit or not will be weather dependent. If I do visit I want to find out more about the Yukon Gold Rush at the museums and attractions in town and I would love to take the Gold Rush era White Pass and Yukon Route railroad that takes passengers on a small but very scenic section of the original railroad used to reach Whitehorse in the Yukon.
I will probably be spending a couple of weeks in Haines, as this is where I have a Help X placement set up with a local lady who loves hosting travellers and asks for a few chores around her small farm in return. I am confirming dates closer to the time but I am hoping to arrive to coincide with the South East Alaska State Fair that runs from July 30th – August 2nd. I will have use of a vehicle so during my time off I want to do some hiking and hopefully make it up to Whitehorse in the Yukon.
Gustavus (Glacier Bay)
Kayaking with glaciers calving off and crashing into the sea around me (at a safe distance), that’s what I want from my time in Glacier Bay. Maybe some whales too.
Sitka first appeared on my radar when I watched the movie ‘The Proposal’ a few years ago. Although the film is actually filmed in Rockport, MA, it was made to look like Sitka and I thought it looked incredible. Photos I have seen of the real Sitka since have only made me want to go there more. I am looking forward to checking out the Russian heritage of the city that is still seen in a lot of buildings that have remained, as well as doing lots of hiking as there are heaps of scenic trails close to town.
If I have time I would like to visit the rainy city of Ketchikan and the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument. Hiking (of course), checking out the totem poles, and maybe bear watching would all be on the cards.
From Ketchikan I will be taking a ferry on to Prince Rupert in British Columbia where I will spend a night or two before my overnight ferry to Haida Gwaii for my Help X placement there.
I am so unbelievably excited to get up to this amazing State!
Have you been to Alaska? Have you got any tips or is there anything that I shouldn’t miss?