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Alaska outdoor activities (trekking, kayaking, fishing, etc.)

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • In Gold Rush days, prospectors sifted $3 million in gold from Nome’s beaches.
  • Lake Hood is the world’s busiest floatplane base, averaging 800 takeoffs and landings on a peak summer day.
  • The world’s largest sport-caught king salmon (97 lbs. 4 oz.) was pulled from the Kenai River.
  • It took 450 tons of explosives to make way for the 110-mile White Pass and Yukon Route rail line.
  • The Iditarod commemorates the rush to deliver serum to Nome during a diphtheria epidemic (1925).

An outdoors for all seasons

Alaska, a vast, sparsely populated land of pristine natural beauty, is no place to be cooped up inside. The only question is which activities to pursue in the outdoors.

This is America’s largest state, and the choices for outdoor activities are just as sweeping, ranging from panning for gold, sea kayaking and fishing for salmon to hiking, mountain biking or even riding a few miles of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Venturesome travelers are the most enthusiastic about the state’s outdoor activities, but Alaska’s outdoors can be enjoyed in many ways. All personality types like to see glaciers, for example, but the most active might trek across a grand slab of ice while other tourists choose a cruise for viewing and photography purposes.

Numerous tour companies are on hand to offer a similar variety for visitors who seek to be awed by Alaska’s abundant wildlife and the beauty of its mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and coastline.

In addition, although the state is in America’s far north, Alaska doesn’t forfeit its winter tourist season. It lures prospective visitors in the colder months with unique festivals, such as Cordova’s Iceworm Festival and annual outhouse races in Fairbanks, and activities like dogsledding, ice fishing, skiing (cross-country and downhill) and snowmobiling. Not only that, the Northern Lights perform best when nights are longest and darkest.

Alaska has the terrain to accommodate all sorts of outdoor activities, but it’s a particularly compelling vacation choice for anglers. The state boasts of more than 3 million lakes, 3,000 rivers and more coastline than the entire lower 48 — plenty of places to go looking, with fishing rod and a license in hand, for some of the hundreds of fish species, including nearly 30 game fish, in the state’s fresh and salt waters.

There also is a wide choice for accommodations that cater to the fisherman or woman, from the rustic to the luxurious.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Fly into the wilderness to stay at a specialist lodge and go fishing.
  • Hike the famous Chilkoot Trail, a 33-mile route between Dyea, Alaska, and Bennett, British Columbia. The former Tlingit tribe trade route was traversed by gold-crazed prospectors in the thousands more than 100 years ago.
  • For another ambitious plan, take a multiday whitewater rafting trip on the Alsek or Tatshenshini River.
  • Book a multiday dog mushing experience into one of Alaska’s remote areas. Or, make a bid, in a telephone auction, to participate in the Iditarider program, which allows winning bidders to ride in a musher’s sled for the first few miles of the Iditarod.
  • Get active in Gustavus. Your choices include mountain biking, a guided hiking tour, sea kayaking, fishing, rafting or wildlife viewing.
  • At Wrangell, take a jetboat up the Stikine River. Or, at Haines, sign on for a float trip or a jetboat trip through the Bald Eagle Preserve.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Try your skills at ice bowling during Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous, in late February or early March.
  • Participate in one of the several fishing derbies staged in Alaska’s coastal communities. Most are halibut or salmon derbies in spring or summer, but Soldotna has an ice fishing derby in February, which includes a prize for the ugliest fish. Seldovia’s spring derby is designed for anglers in canoes and kayaks.
  • Look at the vast glaciers from the sky, on a flightseeing tour. Or, if your centric self is finding its venturesome side, go glacier trekking, or traverse the ice via dogsled.
  • Charter a boat out of Deep Creek, Dutch Harbor, Homer or Seward on the Inside Passage to fish for halibut. Or, fish for salmon on the Kenai River.
  • When the tide is low, go clam digging in Clam Gulch on the Kenai Peninsula. The season is year round, and a fishing license is required as for other, more traditional fishing activities.
  • If you travel in late February or early March, position yourself to cheer the participants in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race or the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Be awed by the Northern Lights, which ride the sky at 60 or 70 miles above land, about 10 times higher than a jet’s path. Colors are most often yellow-green but can be blue, purple or red. The lights are generally visible from late August through early April.
  • Take a scenic journey on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad from Skagway in Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia, one way or roundtrip. Shorter excursions are available, too. The White Pass Summit excursion does not leave Alaska and, therefore, Americans don’t need a passport.
  • Board a day excursion boat for a close look at glaciers in Prince William Sound.
  • Pan for gold near the Discovery Claim at Nome. Or, pan for gold at any of several other sites in the state.
  • Book yourself on a wildlife viewing excursion at sea. This will offer options to watch whales and, depending on location, look for seals, sea lions, sea otters and walrus.
  • At Nome, see a dogsled demonstration on the Iditarod Trail.


Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Alaska Travel Industry Association at