Visit Alaska - The Last Frontier
Best time to visit Alaska
There really is a very small window for visiting Alaska. I think we timed our trip pretty well at the tail end of August and early September. If you leave it any later than that, then it gets really cold and the days are long and dark – not great for exploring. If you go in the Summer time, then you may get slightly warmer temperatures – but the mosquitos like those too and there are A LOT of them here! They are a real nuisance – not to be taken lightly. The locals told us you could almost write your name in the bugs they were so thick a week or two before we got there – Yuck!
Top Ten "Must-Dos" for a trip to Alaska
- See the Space Needle in Seattle
- Amaze yourself at the creations in Chihuly Gardens and Glass – Seattle
- Get a view of Mount McKinley – it’s elusive, but worth it!
- See brown bears in Denali National Park
- Travel the Great Alaskan Railroad
- See whales at play in their natural habitat – Juneau
- Dine at the Chef’s Table on the Sapphire Princess (pre-booking essential)
- Watch a black bear catching his salmon at Ketchikan
- Listen to Hubbard Glacier calving.
- Sip a Kodiak Beer – “Like true Alaskans, we aren’t afraid of the dark!”
My Reading List
My reading material for this trip was “Alaska Bound – One Man’s Dream, One Woman’s Nightmare, by Tammy Jones – www.AlaskaBoundTammyJones.com.
It is a true story about building a log cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. Intense cold, dark, icy water and bears all feature in it. True stories are always the best aren’t they – and it doesn’t come much more gripping than this one!
My Packing List
The luggage restrictions are really daunting for a trip with this much variety. Packing was a real challenge – made harder by the fact that we were cruising for part of our journey, so we needed to pack evening dress as well as all the practical cold weather gear and hiking boots.
Don’t travel without:
A really good torch – there are no lights in the Alaskan wilderness!
Flora and Fauna
This is just a checklist of what I actually saw – to inspire you to go – but there is potentially so much more to see here! Search for “Flora and Fauna” to find the relevant posts.
- Black bear
- Brown bear
- Humpack Whale
- Orca Whale
- Bald Eagle
- Mountain tundra
- Tiny fir trees
Tips for Future Travellers
- If you do take a cruise with Princess Cruises as part of your Alaska trip, Dining at the Chef’s Table is a great experience. You need to sign up right at the start of your cruise though – before you unpack even – because the numbers are very strictly limited.
- Leaving the car at home was a great idea – doing the whole trip on public transport and finishing with the cruise made it a very relaxing holiday and there was nothing we missed as a result of not having a car with us.
- If you stay at Denali Backcountry Lodge, you need to get your name down very promptly as hiker numbers are strictly limited to preserve the wilderness feel of the place.
- The luggage restrictions on Alaska Airlines flights need to be checked carefully before you travel. Their planes are small which cuts down what you can pack – quite a challenge if you are incorporating a cruise into your trip as we did. Given that we did the trip on public transport though, packing light was a good move.