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Outdoors Adventures
We recommend you rent a motorhome and see Alaska after your missions trip. Join us for Mountain Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Glacier River Rafting, Bush Plane Flying, Trail Rides, Glacier Walks, Brown Bear Photo Safaris, Salmon and Halibut Fishing, Gold Panning, Kayaking, Fjord Tours and Adventure!

 

 

 

Wade's Adventure Guide

 

Adventuring in Alaska
After or before the Alaska Wilderness Missions trip I suggest you try to add 3, 5, 7, or more days to your stay in Alaska. I am not a tour guide and the following is just some recommendations that I can make after spending 17 years exploring this great state.

I'm not trying to scare you but rather bring you to a realistic view of Alaska. Realize that this is not New Jersey. Alaska is tough unforgiving country. The unprepared often die here. Once you leave the road system you are in the real Alaska. We may have demanding weather that dips below freezing during the summer. We have a lot of cold rain. We have at least two things that can bite you;  mosquitoes and grizzly bears. You must be fit to leave the road system. Know that turning around when you've had enough is smart. Good gear is required here if you're off road. I always carry a pack with basic survival gear, good rain gear and extra tech layers and a hat and gloves plus some food. Water is everywhere. I want you to plan an adventure that will meet your expectations and also keep you safe. If your hiking make sure your boots are broken in and really waterproof. You can see an avalanche of great stuff from the road system. If you camp or catch a fish or stand on a mountaintop you will get more out of the experience. Know your personal limits and stay within them.

Alaska is huge!
It basically has about 4-5 roads so you probably won't get lost. You are going to need a few basics to adventure in Alaska. The most important is transportation. You can go online and rent a vehicle. You won't need a 4X4. You will need enough room for all of your stuff. If you rent a sub compact you will have a fishing rod in the back of your neck for a week. Lodging is expensive in most locations. It is not unheard of for a B-class room to cost $175 a night or more in Anchorage

RV Rentals
If you want to really be equipped and cost effective I suggest you rent a motor home or truck camper. I'll give you a few suggestions. A big one 24-30' will easily accommodate 4 persons. You could jam in 5 guys. They also rent smaller ones for 2-3 persons. A motor home gives you lodging, cooking opportunities, secure gear storage and transportation. They are brand new and everything you need to camp comes with the ones I suggest plus they don't ask you to clean them up at the end of the trip. They get 9-10 mpg but you can get unlimited mileage and you won't be going far. Gas will be around $4.25/gallon. You have to book way in advance or there won't be one available for you. Actually, you need to book today to get one of these deals. Some specials are running 30% to 50% off...that's as little as $90- $150/day for a big motor home. They also have good rates on vans and cars.
ABC Motor Home Rental 800-421-7456
You must book by March 31 for the specials and they are based on availability.

Car Rentals
Renting a car and bringing a tent is an idea and I've done a lot of this. But you must realize that it may rain 75% of the time and nights can be in the 40's. If you bring a tent you must have a great weatherproof tent, cot and sleeping pad/bag plus camping gear/cooking gear and you will need a propane stove for cooking as soggy campfires are not fun to cook on. Go with a motorhome.

Denali National Park
I will offer some suggestions concerning Denali National Park, where I have lived for two years and worked as a professional photographer for fifteen years. I know the park well and suggest you try to include a visit there. The park is located between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It will likely take you about 4.5 hours and its about 250 miles. You won't get lost as there is only one road to follow. Once you get there, you'll find a lot of hotel rooms for rent (expensive) and book early. Google accommodations/ Denali Park to investigate and book. Another idea is to tent or RV camp. The RV motorhome idea is my favorite as it gives you lodging, a place to cook and store gear plus mobility. Make sure you have a campfire in your agenda.  This is cheap and requires advance registration for camping and RVing. You must pre-pay and have advance registration or not have a place to stay. This booking service also schedules your bus ride (Shuttle bus) and any other activity you may want to participate in while you're there. Here is the web site. Here is what I like to do when visiting Denali. You can only drive your personal vehicle about 18 miles into the park. I suggest you book a shuttle. They go to a variety of destinations along the only dirt road. The road is 90 miles long and traverses true Alaskan wilderness. I was once a tour driver along this route. I suggest you book the 11-hour Wonder Lake bus and leave early. On a good day it is the best wildlife drive on the continent. You may see Grizzly, Fox, Caribou, Dall sheep, Moose, Wolves, and Golden Eagles etc.  If it is clear, you will get to see Denali, the largest mountain in the world and the tallest in North America. There is also a neat visitor center and they do a wonderful dog sled demo that you must schedule in advance. If you are adventuresome, you may want to schedule a hike in the park. Note there are grizzly bears here so you must get informed on accepted bear etiquette if you're hiking. Talk to a ranger first but there are some great day hikes I like including Primrose Ridge, Igloo Mountain, and a day hike out from Eielson Visitor Center. Realize that you have to time the shuttle busses so you can get off  one and then onto another later that has room for you. You can easily spend two day or more days in the park but be aware that it takes time to drive up there and back.

Kenai Peninsula
Another idea is to travel down the Kenai Peninsula and do most or all of your adventuring there. There is enough adventure on the Kenai that I didn't get it all done in 17 years.

Hiking
If you like to hike I'm going to suggest a couple of options that I've done and endorse. Leave Anchorage and travel south along Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, which hosts the 2nd largest tides in the world. Sometimes the water floods in here so fast that we see Bore Tides. Stop and look for Beluga Whales. We sometimes see dozens from the road. They are hunting salmon. The town of Girdwood is my hometown (36 miles south of Anchorage on Route 1). It is also the home of Alyeska Ski Resort. The best restaurant in North America is located there. It's called the Double Musky. We have a great hiking trail at the end of Crow Creek Road (6 miles of gravel). It is where we filmed some of the Alaska Missions Video Clip. The trail is called Crow Pass Trail. It is only 3-4 miles long but it gains elevation every step of the way. There is a trailhead parking lot at the beginning and I have taken a motor home back the road. This is my top choice if you want to really climb a mountain that is not life threatening. There is a well-marked and maintained trail and most of it is above timberline. I've seen Brown Bears, Black Bears, Wolves, Moose, Mountain Goats and Dall Sheep while hiking. Half way up there is an old abandoned gold mine, which is interesting. At the top, a forest service cabin is for rent for about $35/night. Book it early or take a tent. There are nice camping locations across the pass from the cabin. In late August, you may get snow flurries up there. Across the pass is Raven Glacier, which you must see. You can do the entire RT hike from the Girdwood trailhead in one day but know that it will kick your butt. This trail goes much further over the pass to Eagle River trailhead, which is about 26 miles. I'm suggesting the 4-5 mile version from the Girdwood trailhead to Raven Glacier and back. Don't even try this if you haven't trained in advance with 5 miles walks carrying a pack. You will need great raingear; seasoned waterproof hiking boots with vibram soles a pack and lots of layers of tech fabric...no cotton. If you are going to overnight, think it through. Allow 8-10 hours for a RT. Google Crow Pass Trail, look and learn.

Gold Panning
On Crow Creek Road is an old gold mine that you can visit and pan for gold. I have panned many nuggets from this creek. The mine is a real neat place to visit.

Around Girdwood
The best restaurant in Alaska is located on Crow Creek Road and my favorite restaurant on earth. It's called the Double Musky. Try the pepper steak that is ranked #1 in the US. You'll drive by it soon after you get onto Crow Creek road The ski resort offers rides to the top of the mountain via their gondolas...which is fun. Just down the road from Girdwood 11 miles is an amazing valley that you need to see. It's called Portage Glacier. Spend some time here. The glaciers visible here are about as good as it gets. There is a nice undiscovered campground along the Portage road on the right (one mile in) that is suitable for RV's. This campground makes a nice RV base camp when climbing Crow Pass or visiting Girdwood.

Video

Heading towards Seward
There is also a tunnel through the mountains at Portage that goes over to the tiny town of Whittier on Prince William Sound. Google Whittier for info on the tunnel. Beyond here you snake along Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet and then up over the pass. Stay in this road until you come to a Y, the left arm leads to Seward. It's well marked. Seward is my first choice for adventure central. Seward is 2 1/2 hours south of Girdwood. Seward is what I describe as a non-commercialized Alaskan town. In my opinion, it has everything you need for adventure. I suggest you consider making this a base camp location. This is home to the Kenai Fjords National Park and the Harding Ice field. There is a lot of lodging options here in Seward but I'm going to make a few tested suggestions. For a upscale bed and breakfast base camp location I suggest Bear Lake B&B. The owners are friends and their prices are reasonable and service are top drawer. We stay with them when we are visiting Seward.

 

Millers Landing

Another location that I highly recommend ranges from fancy to basic but the location and people are quality. This place offers lodging that ranges from fancy beach houses to log cabins that rent for $90/night for 6 guys. They also offer the best fishing opportunities I know of in Alaska. It's called Millers Landing and its run by Mike and Chance Miller. They can arrange stream or bay fishing from shore or off shore fishing for salmon, halibut and lingcod. Tell them (Wade sent you) and receive special RV discount. If you don't reserve a spot you won't be fishing with them. They also have ocean front RV sites and camping as well kayak rentals and guided trips.
Another thing to put on your to-do list is to join the Millers Landing Pot Luck on Saturday night on the front deck overlooking the snow capped mountains. Captain Mike will be cooking fresh Black Bass filets for you. Bring a dish or kick in a few bucks and sit on the porch and spend time with the local captains and guides. You'll think you're in a movie!



The Fjords
If you base from here or Bear Lake you can choose from a dozen hikes along the salt-water fjords or above the glaciers that feed the valley. There are glacier tours that take you out into Prince William Sound where you'll see Calving Glaciers, breaching whales including Killers, Gray and Humped-backed Whales. If you want to go out just to see the wonder of the Fjords, you can schedule a day with these folks.

Salmon Fishing
Silver salmon fishing is getting hot by late August when Alaska's most looked forward to run of Silver Salmon floods in to Seward's Resurrection Bay. Pink Salmon will be choking some to the streams feeding the valley as well. Note: I recommend researching fishing gear needed for this fishery and possibly purchasing a salmon combo complete with rod reel and line for about $29 in Anchorage rather than bringing your own. You will need hip boots. If you're in a motor home you can cook up filets the night you land them. There are nice grocery stores in Seward to get supplies and great sporting good shops.

Exit Glacier

An incredible hike you can do from Seward is Exit Glacier. There is a hiking trail on the north side of the glacier that is spectacular and not all that difficult if you have been getting off of the couch in prep for this. If you really want to do something special schedule a guided trip onto the glacier. Its not very expensive but a real memory maker.

Kenai River

Another option for adventure is to bear right at the Y on Route 1 and head toward Soldotna and Kenai. Here the Kenai River is the centerpiece and there is a dynamite run of Red salmon that runs up toward the Russian River in Aug. Check with ADFG Soldotna for info on runs. You can buy fishing licenses at many sporting goods and grocery stores. Here are the prices.

Russian River Brown Bears
Another very Alaskan thing to do is visit the Russian River during Aug/Sept and see the giant Brown Bears catching salmon. If you spend a day at the Russian River you will see lots of these big bears. Know that these are not tame bears and occasionally they bite. Follow the posted bear viewing procedures, stay in a group and someone should be carrying bear spray or a firearm. There is a boardwalk along the stream that both people and bears use. If you are respectful of the bears private space and yield right of way to the bears you may have the most memorable day of your life.
There are some silvers that run up the Kanai and there are a zillion guides available in Soldotna. Google- Kenai River fishing guides Silver Salmon.

Cook Inlet and Homer
Just south of here is easy access to Cook Inlet. Google- Halibut fishing Cook Inlet for info. At the end of the road is Homer, Alaska. This town is about as pretty as towns get. The bay is named Katchemak and there is a gravel spit that reaches 2 miles out into the bay. The spit is fun to explore. RV campsites abound. There are lots of commercial halibut and salmon charters out there and you can charter bear viewing trips and sightseeing trips to some small villages across the bay from there. I especially enjoy hanging around the harbor where hundreds of ships and fishing vessels call port. The Time Bandit ports here when not at sea after the "Deadliest Catch".

Gear List for various activities

Plan on daily temps to range between 40's for lows and 60 for highs.

Cell phones will likely work in Alaska. I have use Verizon and it works in many places. The carrier in Alaska is AT&T Alascom.

Rain gear - top and bottom - it will rain before, during and after the missions project.

Foot wear - If your fishing you'll need hip boots, hiking- waterproof hiking boots that are well broken in with vibram soles, for daily use and working- tennis shoes that you should waterproof. If your boots are leather I suggest you treat them with Sno-Seal.

Clothes - blue jeans are fine for most applications, but I also wear six pocket 60-40 pants that I waterproof with Permanent Waterguard. I also strongly recommend polypro base layers both top and bottom, Stay away from cotton. Long sleeve tech tops are the best plus a Polypro jacket and maybe a vest. I like a windproof jacket the at least repels water. (I work with a company that makes the best waterproofing in the world. They have 3 products that I totally rely on. Permanent Waterguard- which I treat my pants and fleece jackets with and can also be used on windproof jackets, hats, gloves. Silicone Waterguard for treating my shoes and boots ( Sno-Seal) and I wash all of my tech base layer clothes with Sport-Wash. Go to Atsko to purchase.

Towel and wash cloth/soap

Bring gloves and stocking cap plus baseball type hat.

Daypack - which I waterproof. If overnight hiking an internal frame pack 55-60 liter size, which I suggest you waterproof.

Sleeping bag is necessary for everyone. If camping you'll need an inflatable Thermarest pad. I also bring my own pillow.

Tent - If you're tenting bring a 3 season tent that can withstand wind plus a ground cloth.

You'll want binoculars and a digital camera. I have had great luck with the Cannon Powershot Series cameras.

Survival - If hiking you should have minimum survival gear that resides in your pack. Rain gear. One of the most important pieces of equipment should be a heavy 55 gallon garbage bag which can be used as shelter, parachute cord, fire starting gear, water bottle and high energy food. A signaling device such as a whistle, knife and folding saw. Stocking hat and wool gloves. Basic first aid. GPS works great in Alaska.

Bears - It's a hassle to bring a firearm to Alaska. I typically make sure someone in the party has a firearm if in the backcountry. You can purchase Bear Spray everywhere, if it makes you comfortable. Bears will likely not interact with you if they know you are there. Make noise and talk when hiking. Never travel alone. Traveling in a group is the best of all plans. Let someone know where you are and when you'll be back.

Shore/River/Bay Fishing - If you are going to be fishing for salmon you can either bring your own gear of you can purchase salmon rod and reel combos in Anchorage at Wal-Mart or Sportsman's Warehouse for $39. Someone will be able to help you with terminal tackle. Spinners such as Vibrax and Pixie spoons are popular for Silver Salmon. Hip boots a must. These can be purchased in Anchorage for around $25-30. Day guides available for $85/1/2 day at Millers Landing, Seward.
Off-shore Charter fishing for Halibut/Salmon/Ling Cod/Black Bass/Yellow eye. Your guide will outfit you. I suggest Millers Landing Seward but book early. 6 to a boat/ 12 hours/ around $235. ( I'd try to include this into your budget if you enjoy fishing...it's the best)

Halibut Only Charters available in Deep Creek and Homer. Approx. $235/day

Fishing License purchase can be made in any sporting goods store/ Grocery stores. One day fishing license $20, 7-day $55.

Although we are not offering to be your guide, we are available to answer questions via email at the Missions site. wildalaskamissions@gmail.com Alaska is the best.