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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.

MASSIVE BEARS.

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.

Denali!!!!

Mt. McKinley, with a glimpse of the unforgiving and beautiful Alaskan wilderness that lies beneath it.

Denali National Park: one of the most stunning, powerful places on earth. Definitely the most famous park in Alaska, probably one of the most famous in the entire United States.  Dangerous, exciting, and all inclusive-it has something for everyone.

Denali is on the top of my list for places to visit in Alaska this summer. I hope to spend a large chunk of the time I am traveling there, and I have no doubt that it will be nowhere near enough time.  People have said that years would not be enough time to truly explore the park.

Denali got its name from the Koyukon Athabaskan name for Mt. McKinley, which means ” The High One”. It is aptly named, because McKinley is the highest peak in the United States, and is the center and focus point of the park. The park was created to protect the Dall sheep, one of the MANY species of wildlife in the region, when they were threatened by human advances into the area. This action created a park that was so much bigger than just that one species of sheep. So many species of wild life make Denali their home. Brown bears, wolves, moose, foxes, wolverines, sheep, salmon, trout, and even one amphibious species, the wood frog, populate the park.  Without this beautiful, 6,075,107 acre mammoth of a park, most people would never be able to experience anything even close to this nature. It truly is one of a kind.

I love wildlife. It is one of my passions in life. I am an avid hunter, and have pursued everything I have had the opportunity to with plans to find more opportunities. I really enjoy being out in the woods, watching the animals. But sometimes, the woods themselves are what truly interests me. This is the case of Denali National Park. I also feel obligated to say that calling Denali “woods” is a huge insult. The only name that really does this park justice is wilderness. There are 3 sections to the park, all massive areas. They are the park, which is over 4,000,000 acres, the preserve, which is over 2,000,000 acres, and the wilderness, which is located in the park and is nearly 2,000,000 acres. All of these areas are more immense, untamed, and beautiful than you can possibly imagine. To give an idea of the remoteness of the area, there are 91 miles of road in the entire park. Even more amazing: only a small fraction of that is paved, and only 15 miles of it is open to private vehicles.

What to do?

Hiker reaches a summit in Denali Park with McKinley beyond

What is there to do in Denali? Think about that question. With millions of acres available for exploration, only a minuscule fraction of which is developed, what can’t you do?  Hiking is a simple concept. Pack up, and  hit the woods. There are no trails, no signs, no real restrictions (permits are needed, but not hard to obtain and amazingly inclusive; with one, you can hike for days.) This is the concept that draws me to Denali. I love the idea of being in true wilderness.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more!

An example of the beauty of Alaska

Alaska is the reason I have become so interested in traveling. It sparked my interest in the outdoors, experiencing new things, and adventure, so I decided I could not justify making a blog about my interests that was not centered around this beautiful area.

Katmai National Park and Preserve, King Salmon

A famous sight, one of the most commonly used pictures of Grizzly Bears, taken at Brooks Falls

Katmai National Park, the park I have previously visited, has two things to offer. The most beautiful and diverse wildlife I have ever seen, and the most beautiful and interesting sights I have ever seen.

The reason I went to Katmai was the Grizzly Bears. This park has one of the highest concentration of Grizzly bears in the world, and the setup of the park makes it extremely easy to see them in their natural habitat. Tourists are able to walk anywhere in the park, except at 2 locations where bears congregate and people are kept on a platform a safe distance away. Besides these places, people can go everywhere in the park. This adds a very realistic aspect to seeing these bears. It is by no means a zoo. These are wild animals, very dangerous, and not behind fences. You navigate the trails at your own risk. Newcomers are given a bear safety course at the beginning of their visit, and then given free reign of the park.  Many people have heard of this park without ever knowing. Grizzly Man, a book and movie about Timothy Treadwell that depicts the life and gruesome death (eaten by the bears he studied) of a man obsessed with the bears of Katmai. He lived for several months out of the year in one of the most remote regions of the park’s 4,725,188 acres, studying the bears that eventually killed him.

I had one of the best times of my life watching the bears at Katmai. I saw them snag with snakelike precision some of the individual salmon out of the colossal pods that swim up the river with lightning fast speed, watched them bicker amongst each other about feeding areas and territory, and enjoyed several close and surprising calls with the very dangerous and agile creatures. It was an experience I never will forget.

The Valley of 10 Thousand Smokes

What Katmai is most world renowned for: A geographical wonder, and a very intellectually and visually stimulating area.  The valley was discovered 4 years after the Katmai Volcano erupted, covering the whole area with ash flow, when Robert Griggs explored the aftermath of the eruption. What he found was a valley, still smoking out of thousands of fissures years after the eruption had subsided, and a very distinct rock formation. The ash, when it dried, formed some of the most beautiful and unique formations anywhere in the world. Geographers from everywhere on the globe come to study it, and, the best part about it in my opinion, it is still amazing to the untrained eye.

I was unable to visit the Valley, and have regretted it ever since. From what I have heard and read, it is a breathtaking sight.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for DENALI National Park!

Attention all readers: This blog officially has direction! It will be focused on one of my dreams/passions, traveling. In particular, traveling the beautiful, breathtaking area of the world known as Alaska. The guarantees as of right now are as follows: I will touch on 3 State and National parks, one of which I have visited and two that I will be experiencing this summer. The rest will be decided soon.

DISCLAIMER: I hope to hit on topics that draw in all readers, but to warn those brave readers that venture here, my focus will be centered around natural interest points, straying away from urban landmarks. These natural sightseeing areas are where my heart truly lies, and I would like you to see the reason why.

Welcome!!!

Welcome to my blog!!

This is definitely a learning experience for me, seeing as this is my first blog post…ever. So I’m not even sure I’m writing in the correct box. Oh well, hopefully this works out, and with any luck we should have some fun along the way. Enjoy!