After an overnight journey on the Malaspina, I close in on my last stop: Juneau. Finish with a short hike along the Treadwell Mine Historic Trail to Sandy Beach. Grab breakfast at The Salty Pantry before touring LaConte Glacier Bay via kayak or in the comfort of a heated powerboat, with guide Scott Roberge. Trips available from Whittier, Homer, Seward, Juneau, and Sitka. She’s waiting for me when I arrive at the University of Alaska Southeast, where she teaches English; a short woman with greying hair and the sort of charming self-assurance that comes from a life of challenges overcome. Don’t leave without ordering halibut beer bits in the diner at Coastal Cold Storage. There are no free stopovers allowed along the route and there are extra charges for Pets, and vehicles unaccompanied by a driver or over 8.5 foot wide. Built in 1963, the Malaspina has 83 cabins for overnight travel and can haul more than 80 vehicles on her lower deck, thanks to an 8,000 horse-power engine. You can of course take the AMHS, but it takes a lot if planning and logistical work in a normal year, yet Aline one that may have disruption like this one, and two weeks is a short timescale for that. Car, train, or group tour. There was a problem with your submission. Taking a ferry is an excellent way to see a huge swath of Alaska's coastline while visiting unique communities along the way. © 2020 Lonely Planet. With its southernmost port in Bellingham, WA, the Alaska Marine Highway extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with over 30 stops along the way. I have been … But also it was a seasonal thing. She runs her business, Fish from Trish, from a defunct cannery in Ward Cove, a moody, red-roofed outfit in the shadow of Signal Mountain. "His analogy is a garden hose that has a bend in it. All rights reserved. Alaskan ferry and cruise vacation packages include the Alaska Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, the White Pass Yukon Route and Alaska Railroad. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage. Like the rest of Tongass National Forest – at 16.7 million acres, the largest intact coastal rainforest in the country – the monument is blanketed with spruce and hemlock, the trees doggedly fighting their way up the granite wherever the slightest scrap of topsoil will allow. For more information, download our free PDF all about planning a trip on the Alaska Marine Highway. Tourism helped fill the void: the industry now employs roughly a fifth of the workforce in the southeastern part of the state, also known as the Alaska panhandle. Alaska Marine Highway System. Let us simplify it for you, How much does an Alaska summer vacation cost? Planning your dream vacation to Alaska is no small task. He speaks slowly, taking comfort in the silence he often lets fill the room. He carved one and then said, 'Copy this one,' so I did. Alaskan ferry and cruise vacation packages include the Alaska Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, the White Pass Yukon Route and Alaska Railroad. I can unsubscribe any time using the unsubscribe link at the end of all emails. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's famed Inside Passage—a network of waterways that snake through some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful wilderness in the world—Ketchikan is best known for three things: feisty salmon, idyllic scenery, and an incredibly rich Alaska Native culture. With its southernmost port in Bellingham, WA, the Alaska Marine Highway extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with over 30 stops along the way. Sample almost every major community up and down the Inside Passage in this comprehensive but unhurried seven-day itinerary of can’t-miss attractions like glaciers, whales, bald eagles, and steep-walled glacier fjords. JUNEAU | ALASKA. Southeast Alaska — a network of sheltered waterways, spruce-covered islands, snow-capped mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and small, beautiful coastal communities, all within America’s largest national forest and connected by the topnotch Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. I recall a line from local writer Ernestine Hayes’s unique memoir, Blonde Indian: "The smell of the ocean, the feel of the spray, the sound of the gulls, the taste of the salt, the sight of mountain behind mountain behind island behind island, falling back and back in shadows and grey and dark green… It was a good life, being on a boat.". We talk as rain slants against the windows and she signs the front of my book: "Gunalchéesh, Ernestine" (thank you, Ernestine). The Islands, wilderness and wildlife will capture your spirit. The next day, head to Mendenhall Glacier, just twelve miles from downtown Juneau. Using a series of high-tunnels, they grow fresh produce (a rare commodity here) from March to mid- September, sailing into Petersburg once every two weeks to sell their goods at the community market. The further north I travel on the Inside Passage, the more this emphasis on place, community and environmental stewardship comes to the surface. Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage Aboard an Alaska Ferry. A 407ft-long steel juggernaut, her buoyancy seems faintly miraculous. Vancouver’s airport, across the border in Canada, is closer – just over an hour’s drive from Bellingham. This is the gateway to the LeConte Glacier, which lies 25 miles east of town. Welcome to Ketchikan. For a less pricey excursion, take a kayak tour of the tranquil Tatoosh Islands. Alaska Vistas offers a package that includes a permit, guide and two-hour round trip jetboat ride through the scenic Back Channel. And I’m always surprised not everyone has that feeling. Below, the circle of life is compressed into a single setting. Her memoir, which explores – in part – the relationship between southeastern Alaska’s native people and their environment, has influenced my time on the Inside Passage. The next town I visit, Petersburg, is similar in size to Wrangell, but the streets feel a little busier, the shops a little brighter. While touring the vessel, we learned that the Kennicott was named for an Alaskan glacier, as are all AMH ferries. "I’m often asked," she says, "'Why was it so important for you to come back?' We finally land in a small, unnamed pocket of the Misty Fjords National Monument, and pilot Dave Doyon, whose white-toothed grin betrays his amusement, kills the engine. She has a brawn and sturdiness that commands respect, and soon the white masts in the harbor are little more than pixels on the horizon, giving way to awe-inspiring wilderness. "When I was younger, fishing was the main source of income. If you opt to miss the two-night trip starting from the contiguous US, you can also fly into Ketchikan from Seattle or Anchorage, and back to either of those bigger airports from Juneau at the end of the ferry route. There are roads within the communities themselves, but most of them are small enough to roam on foot. Carson Vaughan visited southeastern Alaska with support from Travel Alaska. 7559 N. Tongass Highway Ketchikan, Alaska 99901. The ferry is big enough to comfortably navigate the waters, yet small enough to pass through the most scenic and direct routes. "They say this job is 99 percent boredom and one percent terror," he says. The Alaska Railroad is your transportation method. Many of the Inside Passage towns and locations are not accessible by road, it’s either fly or ferry. The scent of cedar fills the air, and his scraper rattles as he draws it up and down the log. And many of those who live in and love Ketchikan say visitors help the city stay lively and keep the island feeling connected and relevant to the rest of the world. If you’re open to a chillier journey, you might avoid peak tourist season by waiting until after mid-August. The Mendenhall Ice Caves, part of a D.I.Y. Another tilt of the wings and I’m staring into the heavens; one more and I’m looking at a fingerling canal stained green with algae and snaking through the forest below. If not for them, I don’t think I could live here," he admits. The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is a 3,500-mile water “highway” from Bellingham, WA, through Alaska’s Inside Passage and on to Alaska’s Aleutian Chain. This is a very scenic way to launch your road trip to Alaska. Spend a quiet evening before your trip at the Fairhaven Village Inn, a quaint old hotel in the Historic Fairhaven District, and less than a ten-minute walk from the AMHS ferry terminal. Book entire boat for your family or group, or opt to bunk with other guests. Alaska is over 650,000 square miles and much of that has no road access. At Totem Park in nearby Saxman, a small Tlingit village, 24 towering poles tell stories of the area’s history. Book this trip: Misty Fjords Monument Floatplane Tour. Boutique, small ship adventure cruises in Alaska's Inside Passage, Cruises depart from Whittier, a 1 hr drive from Anchorage. In town, stay at the Squawking Raven B&B with its wrap-around deck, or Stikine Inn – its restaurant is the best in Wrangell. On nearby Franklin Street, grab dinner and beers at Devil’s Club Brewing Company. WRANGELL Be sure to visit the New York Café for meals or just a beer, while the Alaska Fish House serves the best local fish and chips. When the city’s pulp mill closed in the late nineties, more than 500 people lost their jobs overnight – a fate mirrored in other small communities up and down the Inside Passage. Ketchikan, Alaska is truly the beginning of the last frontier. A beautiful trip, nevertheless. When to go Back at the harbor, we bump into Scott’s bearded nephew, Eric Grundberg, who is selling fresh fish directly from his troller boat. The classic Alaska Cruise, offered by such companies as Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. A DIY trip through Alaska’s Inside Passage Following in the footsteps of John Muir — and millions of modern cruise ship passengers — one marine ferry at a time. Visit September to April to see the Northern Lights, Best Northern Lights Viewing Spots Near Anchorage, How to Travel to Alaska in January and February, The Best Large Family & Group Vacations in Alaska, How to Get from Anchorage to Your Cruise Port in Whittier or Seward (or the reverse!). Under a yellow-tinted solarium, passengers spread out on white plastic recliners, some of them settling in with coolers and sleeping bags, others pitching small tents in readiness for a longer journey somewhere further north. As if a cruise vacation to Alaska isnt amazing enough, you can arrive or depart on an extra special route through glacier lined, wildlife-filled and smooth-sailing waterway of Alaskas Inside Passage. Custom Alaska vacation packaged for the Inside Passage. Take a sunset hike to Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park and ponder the mysteries in the rocks. For reservations, call 1-800-642-0066, email [email protected], or book online. Cruises and land tours are great ways to see Alaska. Nathan Jackson is a 79-year-old master-carver with a boyish smile and bright white hair, shaving down his next piece in a large workshop ringed with iron tools. I am cold. 7-day Alaska Cruises . This popular Alaska cruiseship route usually features stops at a handful of Alaska and British Columbia ports and is known for its calm waters, boundless history and spectacular scenery. Tour the Alaska Inside Passage on a custom vacation. Terminal location in Haines for the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System. Rent a car and travel independently on a set itinerary, with lodging and tours booked in advance. It’s a crucial link between different settlements, a major employer, a way for local schools to connect and compete. Alaska Railroad: Adventure Class or Goldstar Dome Car Service? Read about their experience. Self-drive vacations. Our Alaska Ferry Packages focus on the best Alaska has to offer. Ships pass Canada’s Vancouver Island and go through the Queen Charlotte Sound before re-entering US waters to arrive in Ketchikan and continue to other Alaskan ports. Because of mechanical problems, a three day trip turns into a 6 day trip, from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK, August 2015. Contact Information I’m 2000ft in the air, staring through the portside window at a wall of granite shorn by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Walk one block north for a nightcap of Alaska’s best gin and tonic at the Amalga Distillery tasting room. Alaskas Inside Passage is a water route between the Gulf of Alaska and Puget Sound. I want emails from Lonely Planet with travel and product information, promotions, advertisements, third-party offers, and surveys. I am sweating. Traveling the Inside Passage is especially pleasant in summer and early autumn, with temperatures around 59°F–77°F. Explore Glacier Bay National Park, take the White Pass Railroad, enjoy whale watching, dog sledding, Tracy Arm Fjords and sail aboard the Alaska … We are planning a trip for next September and would like to explore the small towns of the Inside Passage using the Alaska Marine Highway ferries. Find how many days you need based on what you want to see and do in Alaska. Most of the communities within the Inside Passage are located on islands, accessible only by boat or plane. With stops in 33 Alaska communities, here is why people love taking the ferry, Here’s what you’ll pay if you want to ride the ferries on Alaska’s Marine Highway, Two recent college graduates board The Alaska Marine Highway. In turn, the surrounding forests spawned a massive timber industry, supplying wood for salmon cases and a burgeoning port. The most intimate multi-day cruise option. Waiting for her "crab guy" to arrive at the dock and unload his haul, she explains the obstacles she’s overcome to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry: the competition, the cold-shouldering. However, the Alaska Marine Highway ferries offer none of the cruise ship features that we all know and love and fondly remember pre-pandemic. Enjoy Overnight Stays at Various Ports or Do some Island Hopping. After two nights on the ferry, you’ll be ready for a bed on land. Travel the world’s most scenic Inside Passage routes by ferry with a vehicle or as a walk-on passenger. Travel by small aircraft, railroad, ferry, water taxi to remote corners of Glacier Bay National Park, Sitka, Tracy Arm Fjord, Haines, the Chilkat Valley, Juneau and Skagway. "A professor at the university who’s been studying this glacier for a long time thinks it’s pinched," says guide Scott Roberge. The largest pink salmon run in the southeast part of the state, and it’s a magnet for brown and black bears. Travel Alaska onboard the Alaska Marine Highway State Ferry and cruise from Bellingham (Seattle) throughout the magnificent Inside Passage via Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Juneau and Glacier Bay to Skagway and Haines. We offer unbeatable priced Itineraries packed with activities, transportation and accommodations beginning in Bellingham, Washington or Anchorage, Alaska. They also do business with small cruise ships that travel up the bay, delivering produce by water using a small skiff. Juneau Shore Excursion: Whale-Watching Adventure, Why Lake Tahoe’s south shore makes a perfect Nevada getaway for responsible travelers, "Paris is overrated" - Lonely Planet fans share their unpopular travel opinions, US airlines are introducing tough new rules for emotional support animals, You can now do a COVID test at home before flying to any of these 14 US destinations. I am ready to vomit. One of the rainiest cities in North America, Ketchikan was bathed in sunshine on the day I arrived, the temperature well into the 20s. We pull ashore an hour later, walk the half-mile boardwalk to a viewing platform over the creek. Although it is large, it is much smaller than todays cruise ships which generally carry 2,000 to 3,000 passengers. Founded in the middle of the 20th century, the AMHS now runs a total of 3500 miles and serves visitors and locals alike. Enjoy the charms of the Silverbow Inn, a downtown boutique hotel. JUNEAU She never knew her father, experienced a childhood on the margins of Juneau society, and stints of homelessness in San Francisco before finding her place in life. Lured to Alaska by Jack London novels, Kevin Dickman left his home in Massachusetts and slowly worked his way up what crew call the "hawse pipe," a phrase that otherwise refers to the duct through which an anchor’s chain passes. NOTE: AMHS fall, winter and spring schedule information will be available mid-summer. The Alaska Ferry System charges separately for walk on passengers, vehicles and Cabins/Staterooms (places to sleep). KETCHIKAN Sign-up for any of the following email series to help plan your Alaska trip. Traveling Alaska by ferry is an excellent option for independent travelers and families, and allows you to bring your car, RV, bicycle or kayak along for the ride.
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