This is a retrospective post from year 2013,
when we decided that dream should come true!

Visiting Alaska has never been a goal for me. Rather, it was a dream… Like, once.. I might visit this place. But once it became a goal. First I saw cruises around Alaska for 500 USD all-inclusive. This was the beginning. Shortly I was searching for other options, with more opportunities to hike and visit more remote areas, as cruises usually include just a short stay in each town. Soon I found Alaska Marine Highway with pictures of backpackers putting their tents right on the ship’s deck.

In a few days I had plenty of information about places to see, possible routes, flights, ships, trains, etc. In a few days dream became a goal. And like in a week I already had sketch of the future trip. As a start and finish points I selected Seattle. It has good connectivity to Europe and it is main gateway to Alaska at the same time.

From Seattle we had to fly to Ketchikan — our first point in Alaska. It wasn’t quite easy to estimate time for each of the destinations, without knowing much about them and with pretty little information on the net. Actually that’s not really true — there are a lot of information, but most of it is from cruise ship tourists. So it wasn’t really what I looked for. Now, after doing the trip I may say that it was estimated almost perfectly. It could be better if we would visit it month or two later.

So, going back to itinerary. Ketchikan was our starting point and one of the sights there is Misty Fjords. We took a flight tour around it, but I think it doesn’t worth its money. Maybe the weather could be better in later months.

After the flight we departed to Ward Lake and stayed their in a campground.

Our next stop on the trip was the capital of Alaska — Juneau. And here I decided to use Alaska Marine Highway — one of the most authentic scenic ways to move around Alaska. It is not big cruise ship — it is just a regular ship with 4-5 decks, with one cantine, lounge bar and observation deck. Very cozy. The best part of it is that you may just put your tent on the back of the ship. And it was one of the best experiences 😉 At the same time doing whole Alaska Marina Highway might be boring, so we took only this part.

Nevertheless Juneau is a capital, it is a pretty small town. We had full day to see Juneau and around. And it is more than enough. As it is typical for many cities in Alaska after about 4 pm it totally dies as all cruise ships leave the port.

Juneau was our starting point for a tour to Tracy’s Arm Fjord. Nice place for those, who want to take a look at a glacier. Next day was fully dedicated to pretty strenuous hike on the West Glacier Trail and day after we had one more trail as well.

After return from Tracy’s Arm Fjord we departed to Mendenhall Glacier for a short trek and for an overnight stay in the campground.

There are different options to move from Juneau to Anchorage has options — flight or ship. We took flight as it had the same price, was faster and we had ship experience already.

So, in Anchorage. Renting a car is almost a must. Another option might be to take Alaska Scenic Railroad, but it doesn’t go everywhere and is pretty pricey. So car was our choice.

First point from Anchorage and one of the main points in the whole Alaska was Denali National Park. It has the highest mountain in the North America — McKinley. The only thing that we haven’t took into account was the season. As the northernmost point of our trip, it was the coldest as well. Plus long winter this year made it even colder, especially in the night. But now, seating in a warm airport of Helsinki and writing this, I’d say this part was the most amazing anyway.

After Denali Park we’ve done few more points around Anchorage. Just as kind of final relax after pretty extensive and exciting trip. From Anchorage we took a flight back to Seattle and then home.

Now almost 2 weeks passed after the trip. And each day I think about it, it looks better and better 😉 Probably Alaska is not the most spectacular place go to. And definitely it does contain less sights per square meter than Argentina, for example. But it is still very nice and interesting place to go to. There is just one important concern for the trip — weather. If I for some reason would do it again, I will choose August or September instead.

_DSC0608

As usual, below is a full itinerary…

Seattle – Ketchikan
Around Ketchikan West End
Totem Bight State Park

Blue Line Bus, 1 USD, 40 min ride

Ketchikan Downtown

Creek Street, Married Man's Trail

Eagle View Hostel

Amazing Location, 29 USD

Misty Fjords Flight Tour

Booked with Seawind Aviation

Blue Line to Ward Lake
Trails around Ward Lake
Signal Creek Campground

5 USD per site

Perseverance Trail

Full Day Trek

Ketchikan — Juneau

Alaska Marine Highway, 109 USD

Juneau Downtown

Downtown Streets and Harbour

Juneau International Hostel

12 USD

Tracy's Arm Fjord Tour

Adventure Bound Alaska

Downtown — Mendenhall Campground

Route #3 or #4

Mendenhall Campground

5 USD per site

Mendenhall West Glacier Trail
Mendenhall Campground

5 USD per site

Mendenhall Campground — Downtown

Route #3 or #4

Perseverance Trail
Juneau International Hostel

12 USD

To Airport
Juneau — Anchorage
To Denali National Park

Rent a car is the only option to get around without problems. Check few viewpoints on the way.

Riley Creek Campground

5 USD per site

Park Bus to Toklat River

Polychrome Pass, Toklat River Check for availability of longer buses from June.

Drive back to Anchorage
Alaska Backpacers Inn

25 USD per person

Drive to Matanuska Glacier
Hiking on Matanuska Glacier

Entrace Fee to glacier 10 USD

Drive to Eklutna Lake
Eklutna Lake and Twin Peaks Trail
Alaska Backpacers Inn

25 USD per person

Drive to Eagle River Valley
Eagle River Nature Center
Crow Pass Trail

Till Echo Bend, 6 miles roundtrip

Alaska Backpacers Inn

25 USD per person

Drive around Turnagain Arm

Potter Marsh, Beluga Point, McHugh Creek

Drive to Airport
Anchorage — Seattle