Sled dogs in Denali National Park

Motorized transport is prohibited in many parts of Alaska’s Denali National Park, but that’s not really a problem. Why? The Denali dogs are there to help you get around in the winter! Denali is the country’s only national park with a working sled dog kennel, and this video by Great Big Story shows what it’s like to explore it thanks to these helpful huskies. Is there a better way of discovering this vast, federally protected wilderness?

What to do with a day in Anchorage

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Breakfast

At the western end of downtown Anchorage Snow City Café has some of the best breakfast food in town. There will likely be a worthwhile wait for a table, but there is drip coffee available in the waiting area. Try the eggs benedict with salmon or crab cakes.

Or if you’re in more of a hurry to get into the outdoors then stop by one of the many Kaladi Brothers Coffee locations in Anchorage. The coffee is locally roasted in Alaska and truly the best around.

Mid-Morning

Hike up Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park. On a clear day you can see much of the Chugach Mountains, Anchorage, the Cook Inlet and maybe even Denali in the Alaska Range far to the northwest.

 Flattop MountainAnchorage, United StatesSuch a great #hike! The #goodviews are so worth the climb to the top. #hiking #alaska ❤️💪🏻👍🏻😎

The Flattop Mountain Shuttle will take you up there from the city if you don’t have a car. Or rent bikes from Pablo’s Bicycle Rentals or Anchorage Bike Rentals and cruise around Kincaid Park…Just be sure to watch out for moose.

Lunch

The fish tacos at the Bear Tooth Grill are delicious and the location is conveniently close to downtown, but my favorite lunchtime spot is Midnight Sun Brewing. Daily specials include taco Tuesdays and posole on Thursdays, but everything on the menu is amazing. Their beer is also some of the best in town.

Afternoon

If you decide to stay in the city for the afternoon, check out the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn more about the cultural history of the state.

 Alaska Native Heritage CenterAnchorage, United StatesAmazing walk around the property to experience the culture and how the different tribes lived. Walked through different styles of homes and native structures #gallery #statue #history

Another option is to visit the Eagle River Nature Center and learn about local and endemic species.

 Eagle River Nature CenterAnchorage, United StatesThe ponds at eagle river nature center have beautiful reflections of the mountains. It’s a great place to spend an hour or two just walking around in nature.

If the Boar Tide is changing in Turnagain Arm, there are a number of scenic pull-offs along the Seward Highway to watch paddle boarders and surfers catch the wave…Yes you can surf in Alaska! While along Turnagain Arm keep an eye out for bald eagles and white beluga whales.

 Turnagain ArmAnchorage, United StatesSurfing the bore tide in turnagain arm between anchorage and girdwood. A really good wetsuit is a must and local knowledge about the current tides and sandbars is the difference between a ton of paddling and a ride that can last minutes!

If you are in the area for more than a day, carry on up the Seward Highway to Seward the following day.

 Seward AlaskaSeward, United StatesI love Seward. Cute ocean front Alaskan town with beautiful mountains and a beautiful bay full of wild life and fun bars. I will move back here one day. Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and the beautifulness that is the Kenai Peninsula. Lots of salmon and halibut fishing here too.

Dinner

Remember you’re in Alaska so stick with the seafood. Fresh crab, halibut, and salmon should be your go-to’s. Humpy’s Great Alaska Ale House is your stop for fish and chips and other local food.

Photo: awyman

For a higher end dining experience reserve a table at Simon & Seafort’s and cross your fingers that Halibut Cheeks are on the menu that day. If you are not a seafood fan Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria is another safe bet.

 Moose’s Tooth Pub & PizzeriaAnchorage, United StatesCan’t go to #alaska and not stop at the #bestpizza pizza place in the state! #sogood my #favorite #pizza and #brewhouse in Anchorage

Drinks

There are a number of micro breweries in Anchorage such as Glacier Brewhouse, the aforementioned Midnight Sun Brewing, Anchorage Brewing Company, King Street Brewing Company and the Broken Tooth Brewing Company.

 Glacier BrewhouseAnchorage, United StatesAwesome Alaskan lodge with kickass brunch and dinner. They have their own flagship beers brewed in house. If you are hanging out at the bar chat with the bearded boys. Derick with the brown bears in the pic as born just south of downtown in his mom’s tub. Great conversation starter.

If beer isn’t your style head to South to try a custom crafted cocktail. Their Moscow Mule is my favorite, but they are also famous for their gin cocktails.

Sunset

Keep in mind that sunset might be as late as 11:30pm in the middle of the summer. If you’re still awake, check out the show at Lake Hood or Point Woronzof Park. Lake Hood is the largest seaplane base in the world and reflects the sun perfectly if you sit on the deck or grass in front of the Lakefront Hotel.

Alaska during sunset in the winter de srongkrod kuakoon en 500px.com

Photo: srongkrod

If you have a car then head around the north side of the Anchorage airport, past Earthquake Park, to Point Woronzof Park to watch the sun set behind Sleeping Lady (the mountain to the west) and prepare for the roar of jets taking off right over your head.

6 tips for visiting Anchorage

Vanlife in Alaska

Vanlife in Alaska

 

 

A three-week summer road trip through the mountainous interior of the largest — but mostly road-less — US state beckoned. We picked up our privately rented Black 2015 VN Body Mercedes 2WD Sprinter 2500 in Anchorage. It’s a sleek, sexy looking ride, no doubt about it. The contemporary interior with swiveling front seats speaks of modernity. This first experience of vanlife did not provide photos nostalgic of journeys from a different era, our choice of vehicle saw to that.

 

Sabina and I have travelled and pursued outdoor activities through much of the western US where a trusty old Ford Explorer Sport and simple camping set-up gets us by. In Australia, I work as an ER doctor but I fund our yearly US travels with income from photography. While Alaska has always stood out as our ‘must do, next place’ to explore, we weren’t keen to drive the Ford way up north and we knew the weather would be variable, if not downright unfriendly. Being able to retreat to the comfort of a van felt luxurious. We lived the high life on the road.

Brett Winterbottom, a glacier guide at Matanuska Glacier in Alaska, walks a slackline set up between the ice.

 

Day 2

We enjoy the taste of juicy, ripe, yummy raspberries this morning. We collected them from the bush around the van at our first overnight stop in the tiny and secluded Caribou Creek Recreation Area. The Alaskan landscape is a generous provider of berry-based nutrition, for humans…and for Ursus arctos, the brown bear.

Photographing the landscape and wildlife of interior Alaska is my aim and luckily my friend, Alaskan landscape photographer Carl Battreall, was up to the task of sending us on our way with a list of places to explore. At the impressive terminal face of the Matanuska Glacier, I photograph two crazy dudes — off duty Glacier guides — slacklining above a freezing pond of melt water. Fun stuff if you have nerves of steel.

 

Day 5

I surface gasping from a dive into cool Long Lake, along the rutted, potholed, dusty McCarthy Road. This is as good as it gets for a refreshing ‘cleanse’ as far as I am concerned.

On the drive back from visiting the old mining area at the end of the road, the van suspension handled the dodgy surface with aplomb although even at a sedate and safe 25 miles per hour the overhead cupboards rattle open, dropping clothes all over the place. We continue onward to reach bitumen again and stop for the night in a pull-out with a view of Mount Blackburn, the highest peak in the Wrangell Mountains.

One of the best aspects of vanlife in Alaska is that pulling over to spend the night is possible (and legal) at any roadside clearing or rest area. There is a myriad of unofficial, and often scenic, camping spots to be found along small tracks leading off the highways.

We barely scratched the surface of the enormous Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve on our little jaunt out east from the Richardson Highway. The immensity of the Alaskan wilderness is truly hard to comprehend.

A herd of Caribou is silhouetted on a ridge near the Denali Highway, Alaska, USA

 

Day 9

The fire I lit outside when it was clear but overcast ten minutes ago is fizzling. Now, fog swirls around. The Delta Mountains are visible for a few seconds and gone again. Inside the van, dark-tinted windows are misting over and the heater is purring away. It’s cozy and warm while I tap away on the computer and Sabina makes another cup of tea. We are well cocooned from the harsh Alaskan weather.

Last night we camped out in a small valley a few hours’ hike away from where we have parked along the gravel access road to the Gulkana Glacier. It was exciting to see Caribou for the first time. I hadn’t expected them to be so shy and skittish. Hunting season opens in a few days; perhaps the animals know the date!

 

Day 13

No change in the weather. We slowly drove west along the length of the unpaved Denali Highway these past few days and didn’t get a glimpse of any big peaks because of cloud and fog.

Today, we headed up the George Parks Highway nursing a slowly leaking tire that will get fixed in Fairbanks tomorrow. We are stopped now with friends of friends for the night. A hot shower and freshly-caught salmon is on the menu for tonight as Ian is just back from getting his yearly quota dip-netting in Chitina. He has a VW van fetish and we feel like intruders parking a Sprinter into his driveway but he is drooling over our sleeck van.

 

Day 18

Denali National Park is one of the jewels in the crown of the US National Park Service and, in this centennial year, would have been remiss of us not to visit.

We got lucky grabbing a 3-night spot at Teklanika Campground at late notice. This is the furthest into the park one can drive to camp but only with a booking. Beyond, to the end of the park road some 60 miles further, travel is only possible on one of the many park service buses that ply the road stopping frequently to view wildlife. We got our fill of that frustrating gig in our first two days, so today we set off on foot from the campground to explore locally.

From the bus we had seen a couple of brown bears (grizzlies) and today we saw evidence of their presence with plenty of berry-containing scat along the river banks — but no bears in view.

The sunset to send us heading in the direction of Anchorage tomorrow is simply off the charts for color and beauty. A digital camera sensor cannot do justice to our view by the river.

 

Day 20

The high (van) life has made us soft. Setting out late yesterday to spend the night camped on Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park, we anticipated some rain showers but not the deluge, lightning, and muddy slippery track that greeted us near the top of the ascent. If we had been returning to a car and tent set up at the trail head, I know we would have continued hiking up to find a camp spot but with this comfy van waiting for us we took the easy option and turned back. Soft…as I said!

 

The van is a superb way to explore interior Alaska. We drove around 1500 miles in total. It is well insulated and equipped with a large raised bed base and mattress, a power inverter, a fridge and a freezer, down-lights, tons of storage space and, best of all for a 6-foot-2-inch guy with a dodgy back, it is high enough that I can stand fully upright with room to spare in the main cabin. The owners are generous people and put a lot of thought into including extras. The list is long: a large water container, binoculars, bear spray, firewood, table and chairs, blackout shades for all windows (it doesn’t get dark at night during summer in Alaska), propane for the two-burner Coleman stove, ground coffee for the French press, bedding and towels, Bluetooth portable speaker, a cold six pack of Alaskan beer, an Alaska topographic atlas and a copy of ‘The Milepost’ (an indispensable mile-by-mile detailed description of the roads in Alaska).

 

Happy 150th, Alaska

WILLIAM SEWARD WAS AN interesting man. He was one of the earliest prominent Republicans — he was expected to run as their candidate in the 1860 Presidential elections, but he was beaten in the primary by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln appointed him as the Secretary of State, which he remained throughout the Civil War. When John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln, one of his co-conspirators stabbed Seward in the face and neck times, nearly killing him along with the President.

Seward survived, and under President Johnson, negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The move was called “Seward’s Folly” by his critics, but on March 30, 1867, William Seward signed the agreement, and six months later, the territory was ours.

Anyone who has been to Alaska knows that the move was anything but folly — the state is spectacular. Alaska’s landscapes are so lush and immense that one can’t help but feel small in their midst. The wildlife in unparalleled. The Parks are among the most beautiful in the country. We dove into our archives and into our travelstoke app for proof that Alaska was the best purchase ever. We think you’ll agree.

Bear fight

Photo by Drew Hamilton

 Eagle River Nature CenterAnchorage, United StatesThe ponds at eagle river nature center have beautiful reflections of the mountains. It’s a great place to spend an hour or two just walking around in nature.

Photo by Michael Dyrland

 Bodenburg ButtePalmer, United StatesThis is a view from the top of Bodenburg Butte near Palmer Alaska. The hike to the top is just 3 miles roundtrip but it is a steep hike up.

Photo by Michael Dyrland

 Portage Pass TrailWhittier, United StatesThis photo is from a hike in March up Portage Pass Trail. It is a 4 mile roundtrip hike. #hiking

 Russian RiverCooper Landing, United StatesBest place to grow up #fishing in #alaska ever! personal #favorite #camping and #salmon spot = #kenaiPeninsula #hiking Watch out for bears, though!

Sunset

Photo by Scott Sporleder.

 Deep Creek State Recreation AreaNinilchik, United StatesDeep creek is about as Alaskan as places can get. It’s great frozen or thawed! #alaska #camping #snow #hiking #fishing #boating

Northern lights

Photo by Scott Sporleder

 Glacier Bay National ParkYakutat, United StatesTen locations that prove Alaska is as amazing as you think!

Breaching humpback whale. Kenai Fjords National Park tour.

Photo by Aya Padron

 Graveyard CoveYakutat, United StatesProbably one of the most spectacular backdrops to a surf spot that I’ve even seen. Clear days are pretty rare but when they come along and you’re out waiting for a set staring at Mt. St. Elias it’s nothing short of jaw dropping.

 Hubbard GlacierYakutat, United StatesTaking a boat across the bay from Yakutat to the base of the Hubbard glacier was a great way to spend a day. On the way we fished for halibut, saw some giant elephant seals and motored past massive icebergs. Highlight was watching school bus sized chunks of ice calving off and falling hundreds of feet. A powerful sight. #alaska

Photo by Cody Doucette

 Arctic Getaway Bed & BreakfastFairbanks, United StatesIf you get a chance, take the trip up to the Arctic Circle to the town of Coldfoot with Northern Alaska Tour Co. I learned so much about Alaska’s landscape on the drive up, and it reminds me of the last frontier. While you are there, head on up to the community of Wiseman and take the Aurora tour with Jack Reakoff.
Pro tip: bring a good book because this place is out there, no cell phone service or Internet. #extreme #hiking #snow #explore #NorthernLights #Aurora #Fairbanks #Alaska #ExploreFairbanks #Photography #ArcticCircle #Coldfoot

Bear at sunrise

Photo: Drew Hamilton

Watching a glacier melt in Alaska

In Seward, Alaska, Exit Glacier is melting at an astonishing rate. Local guide Rick Brown has witnessed first-hand how the glacier’s rapid disappearance has affected the local community. This stunning short film by Raphael Rogers, Paul Rennick, and Kristin Gerhart examines Exit Glacier’s dramatic impact and gives a voice to one of the many people affected by climate change.