Native girl with husky puppies
Welcome to Alaska The Great Land
The State of Alaska is 365 million acres which is one fifth the size of all the lower 48 states. At one time, Alaska was connected to Siberia during the early glacial period. The Russians settled on Kodiak Island in 1784 and by 1867, the US purchased the state from Russia for 2 cents an acre. In 1959, Alaska became the 49th state. This vast state is divided into five regions.
The Far North is a land primarily in the Arctic Circle where the Eskimo inhabitants lead a subsistence lifestyle with herds of caribou and polar bears. They endure months of darkness in the winter and endless daylight in the summer. Most visitors do not make it to the Far North.
Moving southward is the region known as the Interior where you find the city of Fairbanks and the continent’s tallest peak, Mt. McKinley. Denali National Park & Preserve is a popular destination for visitors to see the expansive tundra and forests where wildlife is abundant.
The Southwest region of Alaska has the diversity of volcanoes and the Aleutain Islands, including Kodiak Island and the National Widlife Refuge. Brown bears and 240 bird species call this place home and do not share it with many tourists.
To the east is the Southcentral region, home to over half of Alaska’s population who enjoy world class fishing and hiking. The city of Anchorage is easy to navigate and offers many museums, biking trails, hotels, and dining experiences. Anchorage enjoys 18 hours of daylight or more in the summer months and surprisingly is considered a year round destination. There are nearly 2,400 moose that thrive in Anchorage! The city of Anchorage is connected to many points in the region and beyond by the 500 plus miles of government owned rail transportation. The Southcentral region borders the Gulf of Alaska to the south and the cruise lines use Steward or Whittier as their beginning or ending port of call.
The region most seen by tourists on cruise ships is the Inside Passage region. This area was shaped by glaciers millions of years ago and is a haven for sea lions, bald eagles, porpoises, and whales. Most cruise itineraries stop in Juneau, which is the state capital and where you have the opportunity to ride the Mt. Roberts Tramway and view Mendenhall Glacier. Skagway is the port of call that gives you a chance to experience the Klondike Gold Rush adventures and even take a trip into the Yukon of Canada. Most of these ports are bursting with cruise passengers during the summer months and the local business strive to capitalize on the influx of disposable income. Be sure your itinerary includes time at one of the glaciers, possibly Hubbard or even Glacier National Park. This is a must to see the beauty of Alaska from your luxury cruise ship.
All the Major Cruise Lines offer sailings in and around Alaska from May through September with four basic itineraries available….Roundtrip from Seattle, Washington… Roundtrip from Vancouver, Canada….Northbound or Southbound routes starting or ending in Vancouver and Steward or Whittier. Cruise passengers embarking or disembarking in Steward or Whittier enjoy the beauty of Alaska either by motor coach or train on their way to or from Anchorage. Passengers schedule their air transportation from Anchorage airport. Flight times to the east coast are usually 8 to 10 hours with one stop somewhere in the “Lower 48”. Anchorage is four hours behind Eastern Time. Flights in and out of Vancouver usually take 6 to 8 hours to the east coast and their time zone is three hours behind Eastern Time. Climates vary throughout the state of Alaska, but expect summertime cool temperatures and somewhat rainy conditions.
Cruise Lines offer passengers the opportunity to see more of Alaska by extending their cruise on land for at least two nights but usually more. This adventure is called a Cruisetour and includes motor coach or train or some flights to areas in the Interior regions of Alaska. What a great way to see Alaska from the sea and land.
Many folks return to Alaska for land tours to explore more of what they sampled the first time or some seek the high adventure of the Alaskan land. Opportunities abound for these experiences either by train or motor coach tours often taking travelers through the Canadian Yukon. Other visitors fly into the cities of either Anchorage or Fairbanks to begin their land journey.
Whether you explore Alaska by land, sea, train, or motor coach, it is an adventure you will never forget. Call us at Bay Winds Travel Agency to help you plan the perfect Alaskan experience for you and your family or traveling companions.