This is by far the longest post I’ve ever written and the one of the most in-depth travel guides! I have no idea how to break up these Alaska posts. With an ten day trip where we traveled to a new city just about every two days, there’s a lot to share. The bottom line: it was the BEST TRIP EVER.
Day 1: Fly into Ketchikan
Lodging: we stayed at an Airbnb just outside of the city with a wonderful host, DeBorah and her two year old son.
I arrived pretty late on Friday, so Delaney and I didn’t do any activities together. She explored some of the town on her own while I flew to Ketchikan.
I landed in Ketchikan around 10 and while I waited for Delaney to get back to me on where to meet I got to watch this beautiful sunset after taking the ferry from the airport to to town.
Day 2: Ketchikan
Activities: Delaney and I woke up very early on Saturday, 5:30. We were not ready for the early daylight, but we got up and explored town before all the cruise ships let people off the ships. Our first stop was at the beach next to our Airbnb where we saw Bald Eagles.
After breakfast we walked around Creek Street, an antique boardwalk on wooden pilings over Ketchikan Creek. It has many unique curio shops, the ‘Dolly’s House Museum’, as well as some of the best salmon viewing areas in Ketchikan. Salmon season has not started yet, so we didn’t see any while visiting Creek Street.
We then hiked Deer Mountain Trail, which wasn’t a very easy hike, but we managed to get through it…kind of. We stopped at the 1 mile overlook and took in as much as we could before deciding to turn around.
The Rainforest and Canopy and Zipline was so much fun. We went through 8 zip stations and 3 Skybridges, but our landing was one of the best parts of the Zipline. We also were able to spot a black bear and her cub run through water while up in the canopy.
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is a must see show in Ketchikan! It’s an amazing competition of skill and strength and it reflects upon Alaska’s rich logging history. Your cheers will turn to roars of excitement as axes fly through the air, men free fall from tall trees, and then run atop spinning logs floating in the water.
We also joined in on the axe throwing challenge. We met some of the Lumberjacks for pictures and then got coached by one on how to Axe Throw!
Day 3: Ketchikan
Activities: Our first wildlife sighting occurred with Orca Kayaking. We saw many starfish and a seal swam close to our kayaks. We left a bit disappointed because we didn’t see any Orca’s and out Taxi driver that night said he spotted some earlier that same morning.
After kayaking, we enjoyed a large snack of smoked salmon with all the accouterments, the food they provided was outstanding.
Ketchikan is truly the totem capital of the world, and if you want to see the most standing totems in one location, a visit to Saxman Village’s Totem Park is in order.
Day 4: Ketchikan
Activities: The Misty Fjords Flightseeing was my favorite activity in Ketchikan. We had a perfectly clear day and a great pilot, Chuck, who landed our plane in a very serene mountain lake for a few minutes and had a played a great playlist during our flight.
Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary Wildlife and Eagle Center also runs Rainforest Canopy and Zipline (poor planning on our part). It’s a reserve so you must have a guide take you through the sanctuary. Our guide was very knowledgeable, knew all about the trees and plants in the area.
I wasn’t actually supposed to leave Ketchikan on this day, but I didn’t book my flight correctly…So, I left Ketchikan early and Delaney stayed and flew out the next morning.
Day 5: Anchorage, Drive to Girdwood
Lodging: We stayed at the Hyatt for 5 days. It’s a very nice hotel and practically new, it opened two years ago. If you’re flying into Anchorage they got a van that will pick you up at the airport and will drop you off downtown if your wanting to explore the city.
Activities: Delaney and I had agreed to rent a car while in Anchorage, but since I flew out a day earlier I booked a tour with PicTours Alaska and picked the car up when Delaney landed.
With PicTours Alaska we drove from Anchorage to Girdwood. The guide, Bob, was great. It rained all day but I still got some great pictures. Bob drove me to Portage Lake to see a growler and where I got to touch glacier water.
His tour also stops at the The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. I loved it there and it’s where I saw my first moose! We were in a hurry getting back to town so I was only able to see the moose, bears, and the wolfs. However, as soon as I picked up Delaney, I told her about the Center and showed her pictures. She added it to our itinerary right away.
Once I piked up Delaney we drove to Pablo’s Bike Rental. We didn’t meet Pablo, but met his son Pablo Junior who was running the shop. He was very friendly and even let us borrow his Bear Spray, since we hadn’t bought any yet.
We biked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which is known to have lots of wildlife activity. To our disappointment we saw none while riding the bikes, but we did get rained on. The trail is 22 miles (11 out and 11 back) we turned around at mile 6 since we were soaked.
Day 6: Anchorage, Drive to Girdwood (Part 2)
Activity: During our drive to Girdwood we stoped to looks at some of the waterfalls. Our first stop was to McHugh Creek Falls, it’s right off the Seaward highway, no hike necessary. We then drove to Virgin Creek Falls. This was a little hike, super easy. It was really muddy, but the waterfall was beautiful.
I already told you how much I loved this place and I’m pretty sure I can say Delaney loved it as well. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was so much fun. I got to see more of the center and all the other animals. If you’re there on a cold morning try the hot chocolate, it has to be one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever tasted.
After our stop at the Wildlife Conservation Center we drove to Alyeska. Alyeska is a skiing resort in the winter time and a mountain bike/general outdoor resort during the summer time. It’s located about 45-60 minutes south of Anchorage.
We took a great hike called Winner Creek Hike. This hike was the best! It’s shady, not too strenuous, and the views are aplenty. There’s even a hand tram that you can pull yourself over the Gorge with– a highlight of the trip for sure.
You can turn around and head back or you can continue the hike up. If you decide to continue the hike up, like we did, there’s a free shuttle that will pick you up and take you back to the resort.
After our hike we stayed at the resort, relaxed, and then changed for dinner. We took the large tram to the top of the mountain. The views from the mountain are spectacular. It’s a bit expensive to pay to go up to the top, but if you get a reservation at the restaurant the ticket is free.
Day 7: Glacier Cruise, Drive to Seward
Activity: The glacier cruise we did in Seward was unreal! It was a 6 hour glacier cruise through Kenai Fjords Tours. This was a fantastic experience. The pace was great and they would slow the boat down if we spotted any kind of wildlife, even driving the boat closer for the best views. We saw multiple humpback whales bubble netting, a dolphin, puffins, sea lions, seals, and otters.
The coastline and trip were beautiful, we saw multiple glaciers including Bear and Aialik Glaciers from a distance but we drove right up to Holgate Glacier where we witnessed calving of the glacier. The sound of the ice breaking off and landing in the water sounds like thunder and is quite an experience to see in person.
We also got to hold a chunk of ice that had broken off and the crew served us an iced drink made with ice from the glacier. It was thrilling!
Day 8: Denali
Lodge: The Denali Lakeview Inn was perfect. It’s about a 5-10 minute drive to the McKinley Chalet Resort where most Denali tours leave from and it’s right next door to ATV Denali Wilderness Adventure. It’s also right next to a beautiful lake.
Activity: We didn’t have the Idatarod in our plans, but when someone mentioned it while talking to us about their Alaskan trip while on the glacier boat we added it. She mentioned that we got to hold puppies and were SOLD.
Our first stoped towards Denali park was at the Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters in Wasilla. It was a short stop. We got to pet a dog and went in to the gift shop.
Our next Iditarod stop was fantastic. If you’re looking to really learn about the Iditarod I book a tour with Husky Homestead. Husky Homestead is owned by Jeff King, a 4 time Iditarod winner. Immediately after stepping off the shuttle busses we each got handed a puppy. It was precious. They were all so small and cuddly. Definitely a great start to the tour.
Our last activity of the day was with ATV Denali Wilderness Adventure and we both loved it. 100% recommend so much so that I think it’s a MUST DO in Alaska.
Day 9: Denali
Activity: Denali is the third largest national park in the United States with hiking trails or you can go on wildlife tours by bus like us. Delaney and I choose to go on the 7 hour bus tour, Tundra Wildlife Tour, and it was so much fun!
If you’re looking to see Wildlife in Alaska I recommend booking this tour! We saw SO MUCH wildlife. We saw Alaska’s “Big Five”Animals and other animals.
After the full day on the bus we went to meet the Denali Sled dogs. The park hosts 4 shows during the summer, where you get to meet some of the dogs, see them pull the sleigh, and hear the difference between their dogs and those you may have met at Husky Homestead.
Our last activity in Denali before driving back Anchorage was horseback riding. We booked a tour with Denali Horseback Tours. We rode with owner Ivanka and her intern Erin. They were great! She took us through her trails, we stoped at the top and she took pictures of us on the horses. We asked a ton of questions about her horses, her living out in Alaska with no running water or light.
Day 10: Anchorage, Fly home
Lodging: Hyatt House Anchorage
Activity: We had a few more hours left in Anchorage so we opted to sleep in, pack, and make one last drive to Palmer. In Palmer we went to a Reindeer Farm.
We went on the guided tour, where we learned all about the animals, feed reindeers, pet Dolly the Bison, and kissed Rocky the Moose.