With staggering mountain peaks, enormous wildlife, and remote wilderness lodges – Alaska offers jaw-dropping experiences that every traveler should have on their bucket list. Read on for some of the most quintessential (and mind-blowing) Alaskan experiences.
A Stay at Sheldon Chalet
Accessible only by helicopter, Sheldon Chalet is the only five-star hotel inside of Denali, resting on the magnificent Ruth Glacier, having been grandfathered into the spot by Don Sheldon, who built a small outpost in the 1950s. It’s come a long way since then, and what began as a homesteading project turned into a family’s labor of love, with his ancestors opening up a five-room luxury property at 6,000 ft of elevation.
There’s no Wifi and no cell service. What there is, however, is gourmet food courtesy of Chef Dave Thornhill, who has cooked for the likes of Barack Obama, Justin Timberlake, and Neil Young. There’s also the mind-blowing Aurora Borealis, delivering guests a nightly show hosted by Mother Nature herself. If that’s not enough, guests can enjoy mini mountaineering ropes courses, trek across the glacier, go sledding or snowshoeing, or warm up in the sauna.
Flightseeing over Denali National Park & Preserve
One of the best ways to experience Denali is by air, soaring hundreds of feet over the diverse landscape. Take in everything from rolling meadows and fields of flowers to jagged peaks and glaciers. If you do take to the skies, keep your eyes peeled for moose, wolves, and Dall sheep.
Fancy an adventure? Your trained bush pilot can gently land on a glacier, in a meadow, or riverside for a picnic, giving you anything from impromptu fishing trip to a private hiking experience.
Cruising the Kenai Fjords
Rising from the water like something out of a science fiction movie, the tall moss-covered fjords and narrow rocky outcrops dot the waterways of the Kenai Fjords National Park. This national park contains the Harding Icefield, its outflowing glaciers, as well as coastal fjords and islands. Home to animals on land and sea, visitors to this region may spot black or brown bears, moose, gray wolf, or even porcupine.
Touring this region by boat is truly magnificent, and provides visitors with a unique vantage point with which to explore Alaska. During a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords, passengers may spot seals, Steller sea lions, orca, gray whales, humpback whales, or even harbor porpoise. If visitors are really lucky, they’ll get to witness glaciers calving, as pieces of ice crumble from the massive glaciers into the frigid waters below.
Dogsledding Across an Icefield
Dogsledding is embedded deep in Alaskan history, with the famed Iditarod race created to preserve and promote sled dog culture in Alaska.
Today, visitors to Alaska don’t have to compete in a grueling race across the great state, they can simply board a helicopter and touch down on the Juneau Icefield, where a team of friendly pups will be waiting. Expect kisses, cuddles, and an enthusiastic jaunt across the ice field by a team of friendly (and furry) locals. This is an experience you (and any young travelers) will never forget.
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