Captivating Alaska by Land and Sea
Alaska is a land of towering snow-peaked mountains, miles-deep bluish glaciers, never-ending evergreen forests, countless whales and eagles, and a hard-edged beauty that defies even the most determined attempts to subdue it. A trip to Alaska is an adventure, a journey of discovery.
Along the scenic Inside Passage, a 1,000-mile stretch of waterway, cruise passengers marvel at majestic glaciers, calving into deep, steely blue-hued waters where whales, porpoises, and sea otters frolic. Bears, deer, and other wild animals can be seen roaming along the densely forested shoreline, as bald eagles soar above. And with each turn of the bend, yet another incredible view of mountains, sea, and sky unfolds.
Each community in Southeast Alaska clings to its cultural heritage. In Ketchikan, the ancestral home of the Tongas tribe of Tlingit, travelers find the world’s largest collection of totem poles. Museums and cultural centers provide native dancing, carving, and artifact exhibits.
Sitka unearths its Russian and Tlingit cultural roots at Sitka National Historical Park and at St. Michael’s Cathedral, which houses priceless icons. While Skagway, which lies in the heart of Gold Rush country displays its colorful history at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, where wooden boardwalks and false-fronted buildings still stand. From Skagway, you can take a scenic and historic journey on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, built-in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush.
The capital city of Juneau, accessible only by air and sea, is easily recognized as a product of the 1800 Gold Rush. About 12 miles from the city sprawls the famous Mendenhall Glacier, which is approximately a half-mile wide, with ice up to 1,800 feet deep.
Glaciers cover nearly 5 percent of Alaska’s total land surface, adding an extra “wow” factor to the cruise experience. The Gulf of Alaska, also known as the “Route of the Glaciers,” holds the highest concentration of glaciers in the state. In Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve you can observe whales, stellar sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and harbor seals. The bay also provides a home for several other species of wildlife, such as black and brown bears, mountain goats, moose, and wolves.
The best Alaska vacations combine a cruise with an equally memorable adventure by land. Both Princess Cruises and Holland America Line offer luxury glass-domed rail car transportation to Denali National Park, as well as exceptional lodge accommodations within the park.
Denali is a true wilderness experience. Home to Mount McKinley, it’s one of the best places on earth to view animals in their natural habitat. Travelers are certain to catch sight of foraging caribou, Dall sheep, foxes, moose, wolves, and brown bears. Learn about Denali in-depth on a natural history tour or tundra wilderness excursion.
Land adventures are also a wonderful way to see Alaska’s major population settlements – Anchorage and Fairbanks. Land journeys invite travelers to venture off the beaten path, showcasing destinations such as Dawson City in the heart of the gold rush country, and Whitehorse, where you can follow the route of Klondike gold stampeders and see historic Minto.
Memories of Alaska are of course stamped by personal experience. For some visitors, the essence of this scenic state can be found hiking along scenic forest trails. For others, it may be felt while peering over a ship’s deck in the nighttime stillness and fragile light of the midnight sun. Where you find your treasured Alaskan memory is simply up to you.