Glaciers to Gold Rush: Alaska Travel!
The Forests and the Wilderness
Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley (Denali), at 20,300 feet, the tallest peak in North America. This vast six million acre park offers a wide expanse of wilderness filled with the Alaskan Big Five – grizzly bear, moose, caribou, wolf and Dali sheep, a real plus for an Alaska tour. A Denali Park Tundra Wilderness bus tour lets you safely see the wildlife while the driver guide points out interesting aspects of the park. Over a hundred years ago, two men spent the winter in a cabin in this area and were changed by what they experienced. After a decade of hard work, in 1917 Charles Sheldon and Harry Karstens persuaded Congress to create Mount McKinley National Park, the world’s first national park established to conserve wildlife and allow visitors to experience wildlife in this pristine setting during their Alaska travel.
The Gold Rush Is On!
Skagway is where the Gold Rush began; a thriving staging point for prospectors hell-bent on getting to the Klondike gold fields, and a vital stop on a cruise to Alaska 2012. In 1896, gold was discovered in the Klondike, and more than 100,000 prospective miners flooded through towns like Skagway! Between 1897 and 1898, Skagway was a lawless town, described by a member of the Northwest Mounted Police as “little better than a hell on earth.” Fights, prostitutes, and liquor were ever-present on Skagway’s streets. Stroll the weathered boardwalks and drop into old-time saloons or shop for gold nuggets. On vacations to Alaska learn about the rise and fall of the legendary outlaw Soapy Smith, a colorful and sophisticated thief who swindled prospectors with cards, dice and the shell game. Smith was shot and killed in the famed Shootout on Juneau Wharf.
Skagway was also one of the settings for Jack London’s book The Call of The Wild. During an Alaska, tour follow along historic paths by riding in a vintage parlor car up the historic White Horse Pass – the prospector’s path to the gold fields – via the narrow gauge railway. In Dawson City on Alaska vacations, enjoy an evening’s entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s gambling hall, or the Gaslight Follies show at the Palace Grande Theatre. As part of travel to Alaska, visit miner’s cabins and the abandoned town of Fortymile, prominently featured in the novels and short stories of Jack London, an engaging aspect of the best Alaska cruises.
The Many Charms of Juneau!
Nestled at the feet of snowcapped Mt. Juneau, Alaska’s stunning state capital is nicknamed “Little San Francisco” because of its narrow streets and flights of wooden steps hugging the hillside on which its multicolored houses are built (no need to go to San Francisco to see it, you have it all in Alaska). On many Alaska cruise deals you can take the Mt. Roberts Tramway up 1,800 feet to see sweeping views of downtown and the Gastineau channel, then explore the mountaintop complex with its extensive trail system, Nature Center, the bald eagle exhibit, bear viewing platforms, shop and craft displays.
Try salmon baked over an alder wood fire, or try your hand at panning for gold. Flights the Juneau Ice Field, where you visualize stepping back two million years to the era when shaggy mammoths roamed the West. Walk up to the Mendenhall Glacier just outside the city limits, looking across an iceberg-dotted lake at an enormous ice field flowing down the valley in a glacier that ends at lake’s edge. Liven up your Alaska cruise and try your hand at sea kayaking on Mendenhall Lake. Go whale watching, hoping to see some of the 600 humpbacks which inhabit local waters, or possibly an orca, or killer whale, common to Juneau. There are plentiful choices available in Juneau when you ask when to cruise Alaska!
Alaska travel is beautiful any time of year. If you are wondering when to cruise to Alaska, consider visiting in the summer.
About the Author: Carol James is an EssayLab psychology department writer and senior editor. She has MA degree in social sciences and is an excellent specialist in this field. Carol worked with numerous materials on the subject and is eager to share her knowledge with our readers.