Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Andrea J. LeahyIt is fortunate that Alaska travel adventures are even available at all. The entire state of Alaska, all 665,000 square miles of it, was sold to the United States for a mere two cents per acre by the Russian government of Czar Alexander II. At the time the sale was considered such a boondoggle by the American public that it was named Seward’s Folly after the American the Secretary of State who consummated the deal.
Considered a barren and forsaken wasteland for much of its history, the State of Alaska has proven to hold vast mineral deposits, unprecedented oil reserves and other, magnificent natural resources. Foremost among these resources are vast and diverse ecological and environmental wonders that populate the state. An exploration of Alaska will provide wonders like nowhere else on the face of the Earth.
Alaska Travel Adventures
Credit: Skeezix1000Due to its immense size, most of the state of Alaska is isolated and incredibly difficult to visit. Nevertheless, there are a multitude of fantastic vacation options for the adventurous traveler. Alaska, by itself, has a greater length of shoreline than the rest of the United States. As such, one can have a singular experience exploring the seacoast of this magnificent state.
Similarly, the state boasts the highest mountain in North America. A trek to the top is once in a lifetime experience. Lastly, the interior holds adventure and danger for those willing to explore its depths. These experiences are not for the faint of heart and require significant mental and physical abilities.
Here are some of the more compelling adventures:
Alaska Shore Excursions - Kayaking the Coast
Credit: Ronald LaubensteinThe state of Alaska has more shoreline than the rest of the United States combined. Admittedly, much of this shoreline is not safely navigable by even the most intrepid outdoorsman. Still, there are a tremendous number of options when it comes to exploring the shoreline of Alaska by kayak.
Tours range from simple day tours along the coast with possible overnight stays on pristine islands to exciting adventures that get “up close and personal” with the various wildlife of the area like humpback whales.
All tours are guided and it is highly recommended that first time Alaskan kayakers avail themselves of this benefit. Caution is of paramount importance when navigating these often treacherous waters.
If you do decide to try your hand at a non-guided kayak trip along the Alaskan shore, be sure to have the proper equipment. One of the best ocean going kayaks for an Alaska travel adventure is the Hobe Mirage Oasis Kayak.
See the Windows of Heaven - Climb Mount McKinley
The third highest peak on the Earth provides one of the greatest challenges to the outdoorsman. At just over 20,000 feet (6,000 m.), the “High One,” is wonder to behold and one of the great climbing challenges of the world.
To participate in an ascent of Denali, climbers must be skilled in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, cramponing, and expedition camping skills. Proven climbers may skip the next step but novices should avail themselves of the many training courses available near the mountain to expand their skills, experience and stamina. The U.S. Parks Service also has a list of financial requirements that must be met before attempting the climb.
Most expeditions start in the Kahiltna Glacier. An ascent usually takes two to four weeks and, over the years, almost 60% of the participating climbers have reached the top. While the climb is only considered moderate in difficulty, the peak is not without its dangers and over 100 people have lost their lives in attempted climbs of Mount McKinley. All ascents include professional guides who have made the climb before, however, extreme conditions always make this climb a singular experience.
Explore the Alaskan Wilderness - Hike Denali National Park and Preserve
Credit: AjarvarlamovThe Denali National Park and Preserve is 6 million acres of incredible terrain that surrounds Mt. McKinley. It is accessible by only one road and offers hikers, cyclists and overnight campers an incredible opportunity to witness some of the greatest scenery and wildlife in the world.
The range of activities available to the outdoorsperson is truly amazing. Aside from the more traditional activities of hiking biking and camping, one can snowmobile, go snowshoeing or even go mushing. In fact, although the temperatures and weather are particularly harsh, the winter is regarded by many as the best season in Denali National Park.
Overnight camping is available and the stay can be spectacular with magnificent views of the Northern lights but the campsites are not much more than a clearing. There is no running water or electricity and should only be attempted by experienced campers.
Alaska Hunting Adventures - Moose, Caribou & Bear
Alaska is a vast space. It is home to untold numbers of magnificent game animals but they are spread very thinly across much of the Alaskan landscape. Experienced guides can take you on the trip of a lifetime but there will be significant effort required your part.
The hunt for the largest game trophies will take you to some of the most inaccessible parts of Alaska. As such, your hunting expedition will most likely begin with a plane ride to an outlying wilderness camp. For the very well-heeled, these camps can be well stocked with the necessities but most involve a simple landing space and the hunter is on his own.
The actual hunt can be guided or not. In all cases, maintenance of the pristine nature of the environment is required. The only impact that the hunting party should have on the Alaskan wilderness is the single trophy they are allowed to obtain.
In every event, hunting trips to the Alaskan wilderness require both mental and physical fitness. In most cases, the hunter and his party will be left to their own devices for the bulk of their stay. The unforeseen can happen and the party must be prepared for every eventuality. It is simply a test of one’s ability to fend for oneself.
The Bottom Line
Alaska travel adventures may not be for everyone but, for the intrepid few, they offer some of the most exciting and unique experiences in the world. Their inherent isolation may not meet the needs of the regular world traveler but they are just the thing for those looking for an exceptional adventure away from their ordinary lives.