Archive for April, 2011

Juneau and Area

Aerial view of Juneau

Juneau, AK and the surrounding area does not have the same reputation that the rest of Alaska does. It is closer to the continental United States, it is a much more settled area, and of course, it is the capitol.  This makes it seem a little passive compared to the rest of the state, but there really is plenty to do.

There is a huge industry of whale watching, glacier tours, hiking, rafting, all of the outdoors things you can imagine. The Juneau Ice field is a very popular attraction, with aerial tours available. However, there are also plenty of activities for the less outdoorsy. There are plenty of museums that explore the history of the area, and local films come out often, highlighting the local culture.

A great view of the wetlands

The Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, one of the nation’s premier wetland areas, is also just across the bay from Juneau.



A bear with the beautiful Kodiak backdrop

Kodiak island is located in the Gulf of Alaska, not too far south of Kenai.

Big game hunters have been know to get shivers at the mere mention of Kodiak Island. The bears of Kodiak Island have become a symbol of greatness throughout the world, and for some hunters, this is the ultimate challenge. Somehow, on this island, the bears have developed larger body types. Almost all of the largest recorded grizzly bears in the world have come from this island.

Now the bears might be what Kodiak is famous for, but it has a lot more to offer. It is a volcanic island, which means the mountains are jagged, rugged, and of course, breath taking. The scene in the top picture is a typical sight from the shoreline. The interior of the island is almost completely covered in mountains.

Kodiak is also one of the least visited areas of Alaska. Very few tourists want to pay for the private flight out to the island, especially the ones scared of the enormous bears. The ones that do, however, are pleasantly surprised. There are several towns and villages scattered around the shoreline with very hospitable people.

This is one example, a view of a small town from a hillside above it.

As you can see, Kodiak island is a brave man’s Paradise

Kenai Fjords National Park is perfect in so many ways.  It is hard to make it to, but not too hard. It has a very friendly environment, but not friendly enough to make it boring. It has easy things to do, and difficult things to do. And, of course, it is beautiful, fun and has plenty to offer.

Kenai is one of Alaska’s more commercialized parks. It is only about 127 miles from Anchorage, making it very easy to access. It is also a very popular cruise site. Boats leave from Anchorage daily, going to see everything from whales and glaciers to the Fjords themselves.

Boat tour in Kenai

With so many easy things to access, most parks would become overrun and unnatural. Kenai has kept it’s natural beauty, partly because of the hard work of the people who run the park have done, partly because of the sheer size and partly because of the strength of the Alaskan wilderness.  It is very hard for humans to break down the beauty of this area. One other thing that helps- almost all of the people that visit visit by boat. This keeps the shore line looking as clean as it did 100 years ago.