I’ve been in Alaska for just over 4 days now. I arrived on Saturday after a very long day of flying, exhausted but eager to explore the “Last Frontier.”
The first part of my trip, and my main reason for making the trip to Alaska, was to visit Katmai National Park, home to Brooks Falls and the infamous brown bears. Every year, countless brown bears flock to the falls to catch the migrating salmon as they swim to their upriver spawning sites.
It was… amazing. The park had not been over-hyped. Bears were everywhere! They were fishing in the falls, they were swimming in the lake, they were fooling around on the beach and they were playing tag and running through camp– and 10 feet away from the porch where my parents and I were standing!
It was a pretty remarkable experience and I’ll be posting a blog or two about that later on with LOTS of pictures.
But, I’ve still got half of my vacation left and today we made the 127-mile drive from Anchorage to the coastal town of Seward, where we’ll be spending the rest of our trip.
The drive between the two cities is an attraction in itself. A designated “Scenic Byway,” the Seward Highway features countless hikes, attractions and view points through mountain ranges, past lakes and rives, below glaciers and along the Chugach National Forest.
We spent the entire day exploring all along the route, and even managed to check #48 off of my 55 Places Bucket List.
Here are some highlights from the drive, and lots of pictures!
1st Stop: Potter Marsh, right outside of Anchorage.
This time of year, moose, muskrats and many types of birds can be found. We didn’t find much wildlife this morning, but instead found gorgeous early-morning views along the boardwalk.
2nd Stop: Crow Creek Mine in Girdwood
This was my one request for the day. I wanted to pan for gold an in effort to check #48 “mine for gold” off of my bucket list. After much research, I decided on the Crow Creek Mine, a historic site that feels like a complete hidden gem.
There’s a village of historical buildings dating back to the mine’s golden past, and blooming flowers that make for a pretty picture. It felt like much more than a “tourist attraction” and I felt like I really learned something about the region… while also getting a chance to try my luck at panning for gold. I didn’t really find much… but I had fun time trying.
3rd Stop: Portage Glacier Cruise in the Chugach National Forest
The Chugach National Forest is the 2nd largest National Forest in the United States. It’s over 5 million square acres… larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and the Grand Canyon COMBINED!
It also is home to countless glaciers, including the Portage Glacier. We took an hour-long boat ride out to it and I was blown away by the beauty of the glacier, and the surrounding mountains.
4th Stop: ice Cream stop at Summit Lake Lodge in Moose Pass
After all this adventuring, we needed a snack. We found the Summit Lake Lodge to be completely charming. We wish we would have known… we would have stayed there! But, alas, this visit we stayed long enough for coffee and ice cream, before continuing along on our way.
5th Stop: “Swan Lake” before Seward (on the left)
This random lake along the Seward Highway was a recommendation from a friend we met at Brooks Lodge. Mom wanted to photograph trumpeter swans, and at this “Swan Lake” we found a pair with some babies, as well as some really gorgeous views.