For the nomads
Alaska is truly the chefs kiss of the United States. Every where you turn you'll notice a picturesque landscape that most only dream of. During August of 2018 I had the privilege of traveling with Alaska Wild Land Adventures on a 9 day photography tour. I traveled through Valdez and Anchorage, took a boat to Kenai Fjords National Park, traveled back up through Talkeetna, finally landing in Denali National Park where we took a train back to Anchorage. The pictures I captured are memories I will hold dear forever, but they certainly don't do the massive scenic landscape justice!
Anchorage to Valdez
After traveling nearly 4,000 miles from Little Rock to Anchorage, I settled into a cozy bed and breakfast near the airport. The Alaskan Frontier Garden Bed and Breakfast is owned by the kindest host, Rita. The area is surround by gardens and wildlife; a breathtaking experience especially for a first-timer. After a breakfast of coffee and reindeer sausage I headed to meet my guide and took a scenic drive along Turnagain Arm then through the Chugach Mountains to Cooper Landing. I stayed two nights at the Kenai Backcountry Lodge where the view of wildlife and mountain ranges were endless. I luckily caught the tail end of salmon fishing season and spent a day knee-deep in the Kenai catching and releasing. If you're a fan of fishing, one day won't be enough. Consider planning for two or more!
Cooper Landing to Kenai
After spending time exploring Cooper Landing, I took a bus headed to Seward where a glacier cruise bound for Kenai National Park was waiting. On the cruise you can expect to see Sea Lions, Humpbacks/Orcas, Otters, Puffins, and so many more different species of wildlife. Not to mention the Exit, Holgate, and Aialik glaciers! Once arriving at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge I settled into my cozy cabin on the lagoon. Be prepared to say goodbye to your phone because you'll be completely off grid at this point. I spent my three days there kayaking, hiking, photographing wildlife, and getting to know other guests. The dinners are family-style meaning everyone gets to know each other quickly! You'll want to fit every excursion into your short stay, so try to figure out the most effective way to spend your time there without being overwhelmed.
Kenai to talkeetna
After my short time in Kenai Fjords, I headed back to Seward with a group of other guests. We stayed at the Seward Windsong Lodge that night after enjoying a dinner prepared by the chef. Early the next morning we ventured through the Chugach State Park to the small town of Talkeetna. I must say, this was one of my favorite stops. If you are a quirky person at all, Talkeetna is the town you need to visit next! Wandering through downtown and enjoying local craft brews was so refreshing. I learned about mountaineering, the beginning days of the town, and Stubbs the cat. Stubbs was the mayor of Talkeetna from July 1997 until his death!
Talkeetna to Denali
After breakfast in Talkeetna, I continued to travel by bus to Denali Nation Park. We stopped for lunch and the continued our 6 hour venture towards the untouched landscapes of Denali. On the way I studied carbou, moose, grizzly bear cubs, bald eagles, and countless other views. If you are lucky enough to be driving down Talkeenta Spur Road while the clouds are clear, you might get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley in all her glory. Thankfully I was passing by at the right time and stood in awe of the range for what seems like an eternity! After a long journey I arrived at Denali Backcountry Lodge, had dinner, and settled into the cabin. While staying there I explored the Kantishna Region on bike and foot. I hiked to Wonder Lake, fished in the river by my cabin, and ate dinner with the friendliest group of people you'll ever meet. The cabin has no electricity and only a wood burning stove. You'll also be using a outhouse for the duration of your stay in Denali.
The long way home
After the long days and short nights in Denali, I took a lengthy bus ride alongside bears and bald eagles that led me to the entrance of the park once again. I boarded the Alaska Railroad and made the beautiful journey back to Anchorage in complete comfort. I arrived back in Anchorage around 8:30PM and stayed one more night in our AirBnb. While on the train I had time to reflect on my journey and the people I met along the way. There is something about the unescapable silence you encounter when you stare into the evergreens that leaves you wanting more. I even considered working in Alaska for the summer just so I could get a taste of that air again!