Alaska backpacking and camping is simply magnificent. This state encompasses over 238 million acres of land preserved by the federal government, which is more vast than any wilderness your imagination can conjure. Avid backpackers who have not yet experienced this wild back country get sweaty palms just thinking about heading for a trail head.
Alaska adventure camping vacations are not just for the seasoned outdoors men, but include a family looking for an adventure that is off the beaten path. Alaska backpacking for the entire family is exciting and enjoyable even without the adrenal pumping accompanied by hiking up Mount McKinley/ Denali.
Alaska’s vast and scenic wilderness provides Alaska backpackers with almost unlimited opportunities. This region’s natural beauty, landscape, and clean waters make it one of the most desirable hiking locations in North America. Take a minute and look at some pictures of Alaska.
Denali National Park is a great backpacking and camping region with astounding views. Vistas stretch over expansive tundra, rolling blue glaciers, and soaring peaks, including the magnificent Denali itself. While hiking you will have a really good chance to see Dall sheep, eagles soaring through the skies, arctic fox, caribou, and more.
Although Denali National Park has few established trails, they are well marked and maintained. Generally, backpacking through Denali is more independent wandering than hiking on a network of trails or routes. This area offers easy walking along ridgelines to challenging and possibly dangerous climbing.
You and your family can easily combine Alaska backpacking or hiking with fishing or just floating on a lake or river. From the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Alaska, the wild valleys of the Brooks Range to the volcanoes of the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” Alaska invites you to explore its vast and scenic wilderness areas. The “Ring of Fire” is an arc stretching from New Zealand, along the eastern edge of Asia, north across the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and south along the coast of North and South America. It encompasses over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.
Alaska backpacking in the Chugach Mountains might be your pick of the numerous Alaska camping adventure vacations. Chugach provides the ultimate alpine setting for glacier travel and ice climbing. You can camp high in Chugach and enjoy the excitement of ice climbing nearby seracs or ski Chugach well into July. The more adventurous – if there is anyone who needs more adrenalin – can even attempt to climb one of the nearby peaks!
Alaska backpacking trails are numerous in Chugach State Park. Several of the trails throughout the park also allow horseback riding and bikes. Alaska backpacking on The Turnagain Arm Trail is relatively easy, and it has beautiful overlooks of the Chugach and Kenai mountains. Beluga Point is located on the Turnagain Arm Trail, and it is the best spot to watch Beluga whales during July and August. This Point is an excellent place to see the daily bore tide, which ranges from 1/2 to 6 feet in height, traveling 10 to 15 miles-per-hour.
Explore the Matanuska Valley. Here, your Alaska backpacking trip might include hunting, fishing, hiking or just touring this magnificent wilderness. The long days of summer make the Matanuska Valley the breadbasket of Alaska. Deep winter snows provide moisture for lush vegetation and the oversized fruits and vegetables routinely grown here. The cabbages, for example, can weigh over 100 pounds.
Alaska fishing vacations in this valley will provide an abundance of Alaskan freshwater fishing opportunities for the skilled and the novice outdoorsman. Both the Fly Fisherman and the Spin Fisherman find great gratification in pursuing Alaska Trout fishing for the Native Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and all five species of Salmon found in Matanuska Valley. Alaska fishing trips this summer will be an excursion of a lifetime.
Alaska backpacking or hiking might include sea kayaking the shimmering, pristine marine wilderness of Prince William Sound. The Sound has 3,000 miles of shoreline, nearly 15,000 square miles, hundreds of islands, and it is surrounded by the Chugach Mountains to the east, west and north. Fifty-mile long Montague Island and several smaller islands form natural breakwaters between the Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. You will have a chance to see whales, sea otters, eagles, and calving blue glaciers when you explore the coastal waters of the Sound. Cutting silently through the water, you can make your way between camps and experience this beautifully lush place. There is no better way to see the Sound than in a kayak. You also might want to consider kayaking the Copper-Tonsina Rivers. It runs from Class II to IV rapids.
Unfortunately, Alaska backpacking opportunities around Valdez are limited to a few designated trails. Shoup Bay Trail is 12-miles, and it is the longest. It ends at Shoup Glacier. The trails are moderate to strenuous.
Most Alaska adventure vacations allow you to set your own pace. You can fish in the lakes, soak in a hot tub at a remote lodge, hike the nearby trails or spend the day floating and fishing on the river. You will experience fabulous sea kayaking, hiking and beach combing for the non-fisherman. Wildlife viewing in every direction including Bald Eagles, Humpback Whales, Orcas, and black bears feeding on the salmon runs. Whatever you choose, Alaska fishing vacations have something for everyone.
The Kenai Peninsula is loaded with the wonders of nature. It is a 125 mile drive from Anchorage on the scenic Seward Highway to Resurrection Bay and the town of Seward. This is the point of departure for kayaking and sightseeing cruises of Kenai Fjords National Park, which is rich with whales, waterfalls, brown bears, and calving glaciers. You can try saltwater fishing for Alaska Salmon and Alaska Halibut or take a river trip for Alaska King or Chinook Salmon, Silver or Coho Salmon, and Red or Sockeye Salmon, or the best of both by trying a combination of fishing. Known for its trophy-size Alaska King Salmon, there are two runs of these HUGE fish on the Kenai River. The first begins in the middle of May, and then in early July until the end of the month. Kenai King Salmon average 30 to 60 pounds, although numerous 60 to 80 pounders have been landed, and the current world record 97 pounder.
Alaska’s Cook Inlet offers fishermen the opportunity to catch the Halibut which are the largest Northern Pacific game fish. The average Alaska Halibut is around 20 pounds, although numerous 100 plus pounders are landed each season, and a 460 pounder was hauled in from this Inlet during the late 1980s. Two mountain ranges frame the Cook Inlet which include the volcanoes closest to the Bay of Mount Saint Augustine, Mount Redoubt, Mount Iliamna, and Mount Douglas. The most recent eruption in the Cook Inlet region was Mt. Redoubt with a spectacular series of 23 eruptions.
Indulge yourself with an unforgettable Alaska fishing vacation with a drift boating fishing trip for salmon on the beautiful Kasilof River. This river has the highest Alaska King Salmon success rate of any Kenai Peninsula river or stream. Beginning in August, catching some of the acrobatic Alaska Silver or Coho Salmon is an unforgettable experience. Alaska Silver Salmon weigh between 8 and 15 pounds with some up to 20 pounds. On even numbered years, a huge run of pink Alaska Salmon arrive along with Silver Salmon. The action becomes lightning quick. Alaska backpacking trails between Seward and Portage are some of the most spectacular in the whole state. The trails range from dayhikes to several days.
The more adventurous might want to tackle some trails in the Kenai Fjords National Park. The Harding Icefield dominates this Park. It covers over half of the 607,000 plus acres, and has 32 frozen rivers spilling into the surrounding mountains and valleys.
If fishing or even Alaska backpacking is not your main objective, there is no reason for despair, even when you are with someone who thinks it is just an Alaska fishing or backpacking vacation.
There are a host of other activities to pursue: river rafting, glacier hikes, flight seeing tours and one-day glacier cruises. Not to mention just enjoying the scenic splendor of the area with all of the benefits of wildlife viewing at the same time. Join us on some Alaska adventure vacations.