Exploring Alaska

Hi guys

We are back from our trip to fabulous Alaska and Yukon Territory. What a breathtaking part of the world. As I couldn’t write for the blog from our trip (not much internet in the wilderness…) I would like to share our experiences in Alaska with you in today’s post and all about the Yukon in one of the next.

We were traveling for two weeks, from Anchorage in Alaska/USA to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory/Canada. For the first time, we hired a camper and not a normal car –  best decision ever (minus the low degrees during the nights… but hey, what do you have three blankets for?!)

We stayed in Anchorage for only one night and drove down Turnagain Arm. What a beautiful drive.

turnagain arm 2

turnagain arm 1

turnagain arm 3 turnagain arm 6

Our first stop was Seward, where we took a boat to see a glacier. It was really foggy but the trip was great anyway. We saw puffins and dolphins and whales..

seward glacier tour 4 seward glacier tour

and a real glacier! Cool (literally! ;-P)!

seward glacier tour 2

seward glacier tour 3

But as it was raining and quite cold in Seward, we cancelled our plans of staying on Kenai Peninsula for some more days and left for Denali National Park. We stopped in the beautiful town of Talkeetna for the night and had a look around. Nice, relaxing atmosphere, cute little shops and you can even see Mount McKinley from the river if you’re lucky.

talkeetna 2

talkeetna 1 talkeetna 3

talkeetna 4

If you stay there, visit the little silver trailer and have a spinach bread. Delicious!! Smiley

Our next stop was Denali State Park where we did one of the most beautiful hikes of our trip, around Byers Lake.

byers lake 1

byers lake 2

byers lake 3 byers lake 6

byers lake 4

Now we were ready for THE National Park of Alaska… Denali.

We stopped at the first viewpoint and got rewarded with this:

McKinley 2

McKinley 1 McKinley 3

Breathtaking Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America (Elevation: 20,322′ / 6,194 m).

There is only one road leading into the huge wilderness of Denali National Park but you’re not allowed to drive in with your own vehicle. You have to take a bus. So that’s what we did! I am not the biggest fan of bus tours but I have to admit that this system makes sense for Denali NP. The road is very narrow most of the time and it would be crazy with heaps of individual cars. We took the first tour in the morning at 7 am and were lucky enough to get the amazing Mike as our driver. He knows everything and sees every wild animal.

Denali NP 2

Yes, it can get crowded inside the bus when there is wildlife or a cloud free view of Mount McKinley around…

Denali NP 3

…but that’s what you do it for:

Denali NP 5 Grizzley

Denali NP 6 Reindeer

Denali NP 7 Grizzley cup

Denali NP 13

Denali NP 12 McKinley

Well worth a crazy bus ride, right?! Smiley And the scenery is just stunning out there:

Denali NP 1

Denali NP 8 Denali NP 9

Denali NP 4

There are not many marked hiking trails in Denali. We only did the Tiaga Trail…

Denali NP Taiga Trail 2

Denali NP Taiga Trail 4

…and the very short Mountain Vista Trail:

Denali NP 17

Denali NP Mountain Vista Trail

And off we drove again, towards Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

About driving in Alaska: Soooooo realaxing! There’s not much going on on the highways…

P1110100

And the views are stunning. Best “sight driving” ever.

alaska highway

Make sure you get yourself a “Milepost”, the bible of the north. This magazine knows everything about the street and attractions of Alaska!

milepost

On the way, we passed the town of Northpole and met Santa…

northpole

..and this moose Smiley:

northpole moose northpole moose (2)

Finally, we arrived in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Fun fact: This is the largest area managed by the US National Park Services with 13,175,799 acres / 53,320.57 km2 . But again, there are not many marked hiking trails. We did the Boreal Forest-Valdez Loop…

wrangel st elias boreal forest loop 1 wrangel st elias boreal forest loop 2

… and the Aspen Trail –  both very short hikes actually.

wrangel st elias aspen trail 1 wrangel st elias aspen trail 2

Even though we couldn’t do much hiking there, we enjoyed this place very much. This huge wilderness around you is really impressive. Plus, we knew that we will visit the second half of this national park in a few days because it goes on in Canada, carrying the name Kluane National Park! Smiley

But I have to share one more hike with you. A very special one. It is not located in the park but only a short drive beyond it’s borders. Starting point is the Tolsona Wilderness Campground (where we stayed anyway, right next to a little river – gorgeous!). It’s a bit tricky to find but once you spot the first tin circle, you’re on it. Watch out for these “signs”, or for CDs.

wrangel st elias tolsona trail 1  wrangel st elias tolsona trail 3

I liked this hike so much because it was so wild:

wrangel st elias tolsona trail 2 wrangel st elias tolsona trail 4

More than once we had to stop and play pathfinders.

wrangel st elias tolsona trail 5

But in the end we made it: We arrived at the mud pool.

wrangel st elias tolsona trail 6

A lot of wild animals come here to drink so we saw hundreds of footprints.

wrangel st elias tolsona trail 8 wrangel st elias tolsona trail 7

Great place, adventurous hike! If you get the chance – do it! Smiley

We left Wrangell –St. Elias and headed towards the Canadian Border – via the “Top of the World Highway”.

We passed the very strange “town” of Chicken…

chicken alaska 1 chicken alaska 2

… and were at the top of the world:

top of the world highway 1 top of the world highway 2

They let us into Canada and just like that we had left Alaska and where in the Yukon Territory!

yukon territory border

Stay tuned, I will write about our adventures in the Yukon Territory within the next few days… Smiley

More information about:

Denali National Park

Talkeetna

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

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