Thursday, August 9, 2018

Alaska Trip 2018

View from plane as we flew towards Anchorage.
 Alaska Trip 2018
Denali National Park and Preserve
“Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,310' Denali. Wild animals large and small roam un-fenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.”

Alpine Ground Squirrel
“Denali's abundant and diverse wildlife are just as famous as its tallest mountain, Denali, which towers above the landscape at 20,310’ tall. In truth, although the park’s namesake is a mountain, Denali was the first national park created to protect wildlife. Now, this park is home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and 1 lonely species of amphibian.” 
Willow Ptarmigan
We were fortunate to see the entire mountain on two separate days. Clouds often cover all or portions of it. The bus driver at Denali indicated that only 30% of park visitors get to see any portion of the mountain. And of that only 5% get to see the complete mountain. The park is huge and an incredible experience!

Dall Sheep very far away.
“It’s not just the mountain that makes Denali National Park a special place. The park is also home to 37 species of mammals, ranging from lynx, marmots and arctic ground squirrels, to foxes and snowshoe hares, while 130 different bird species have been spotted here, including the impressive golden eagle. Most visitors, however, want to see five animals in particular: moose, caribou, wolf, Dall sheep, and the brown, or grizzly, bear. See all five in the park, and visitors score what is called a “Denali Slam.” Denali is also home to black bears that inhabit the forested areas of the park, while grizzly bears mainly live on the open tundra. Most of the bears seen by visitors along the Park Road are grizzlies.”

View from Visitor Center
Nenana River

Denali State Park
“Some of the best views of Denali can be found at this state park.
Located adjacent to the southern border of Denali National Park, the 324,240-acre Denali State Park is the fourth largest state park in Alaska and almost half the size of Rhode Island. Denali State Park straddles the Parks Highway 147 miles north of Anchorage and is situated between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west.
While this state park lacks the amount of infrastructure and attractions of its national-park cousin, it does feature several campgrounds, awesome hiking, plentiful wildlife viewing and some of the best views of Denali – even better than those found in most parts of the national park. Byers Lake campground is great for camping, boating and easy hiking.”

Hope, Alaska
“Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the quaint and historic village of Hope is less than a two-hour drive from Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, yet a world away.”
“The community is made up of log cabins, gold rush-era relics and 148 friendly residents who have the time to stop and tell you where to find the best stream to cast for rainbow and pan for gold.”
“Hope enjoyed its heyday long before Anchorage was even founded. When the news of the discovery of gold in Six Mile Creek in 1895 reached Seattle it set off one of Alaska’s first gold rushes and within a year more than 3,000 stampeders were headed for this slice of the Kenai Peninsula. The community was soon a thriving commercial center with stores, hotels, social halls, community councils, post offices and saloons. Hope’s heyday was short-lived. By 1898, news of the famous Klondike Gold Rush in Canada’s Yukon had spread and most miners in Hope packed up for the Klondike. Among the original buildings still in use is the Hope Social Hall, which was built in 1902.”

Independence Mine State Historical Park
“Independence Mine State Historical Park is a huge, abandoned gold mine that sits at the top of Hatcher Pass, a photogenic alpine passage that cuts through the Talkeetna Mountains. The journey above the tree line and this intriguing 761-acre park make for one of the finest side trips in Alaska.”
“Independence Mine was actually two mines until 1938, when the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company united the Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain and Independence Mine on Granite Mountain to become the second most productive hardrock gold mine in Alaska. At its peak in 1941, the company employed 204 workers, blasted almost 12 miles of tunnels and recovered 34,416 ounces of gold, today worth almost $18 million. At the time, 22 families lived in nearby Boomtown, with eight children attending the territorial school.”
“Although World War II interrupted the mining operation - gold mining was declared a nonessential wartime activity - mining resumed briefly after the war until Independence Mine closed for good in 1951. Independence Mine State Historical Park was established in 1980 and since then the state has steadily worked to restore the buildings and tunnels to give visitors a fascinating look at Alaska lode mining amid spectacular mountain scenery.”

Alaska Law Enforcement Memorial
Located at the Alaska Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Anchorage, AK.

Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers Museum
“The Fraternal Order of the Alaska State Troopers (FOAST) Law Enforcement Museum is located at 245 West 5th Ave., Suite 113, in downtown Anchorage. We house the state's only collection of historical law enforcement memorabilia from not only Alaska but also the world. The goal of the museum is to tell the colorful story of a dedicated team of police officers who continue to bring law and order to one of the most unusual, rugged and far-flung jurisdictions in America. It features a wide variety of unique displays including an authentically restored 1952 Hudson Hornet automobile. Other displays include antique radios and communications devices, handcuffs and leg irons, early wire tapping equipment, old photographs and documents, and uniform items unique to Alaska.”
“Admission is FREE.”
“Within the museum, visitors will also find a well-stocked gift shop offering a wide range of Alaska State Trooper memorabilia and other unique Alaska souvenirs. Gift shop proceeds fund FOAST’s activities and museum upkeep including care and display of our historical artifacts.”


Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
“The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research and quality animal care.”
"Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care. AWCC is a nonprofit that provides comfortable, permanent homes for orphaned and injured animals. AWCC provides care for more than 15 different species on our large, 200-acre property, allowing animals to feel at home and display their natural "wild" behavior."

Whittier, Alaska
“Whittier is a small town of about 400 residents located on the western edge of Prince William Sound in south central Alaska. Whittier was established during world war two as a military supply port. Today Whittier’s economy is comprised mainly of shipping and port related jobs, fishing and tourism. Recently, a number of cruise lines have begun to use Whittier as a departure port for their Gulf of Alaska Cruises. Whittier is only 62 road miles southeast of Anchorage. One of the unique features of Whittier is that it is separated from Alaska’s road system by a 2.5 mile long tunnel that is shared by alternating one-way auto and railroad traffic.”

Chugach National Forest
“Roughly the size of New Hampshire, Chugach features a geographic diversity that is truly unique among national forests. The 5,940,000-acre forest is spread across three distinct landscapes, stretching from the Kenai Peninsula east across Prince William Sound to encompass the Gulf Coast surrounding the Copper River Delta, then east from there as far as Bering Glacier.
Chugach is one of the few places left in the world where glaciers spill out of the mountains and into the seas. When combined with the Bagley Icefield from which it originates, Bering Glacier is larger than Switzerland. Columbia Glacier is one of the largest tidewater glaciers in the world while Portage Glacier and its Begich-Boggs Visitor Center is one of the most popular stop for tourists in Alaska.”

Begich-Boggs Visitor Center

Eagle River Nature Center
“You’ll discover the beauty of the Eagle River Valley as you begin your drive along Eagle River Road. Residential areas will give way to breathtaking views of glacially-carved mountains. At Mile 12 you will reach the log cabin nature center – a threshold for connecting to the ever-changing landscape beyond.”

Black Bear outside of JBER.
We chose to drive after landing in Anchorage. There are several tour companies that will take you to Denali and beyond. The Alaska Railroad is also a great way to see the beautiful state. The key is to get there and explore!
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