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Every gallivanter has a wish to visit Alaska, at least once in a lifetime. After years and years of planning about serenading in Alaska, my dream finally came into reality last summer, and I got the opportunity to live that dream, and that too, with the love of my life. I do not remember when was the first time I fell in love with Alaska whether in my geography classes or when I was watching the exciting episodes of Ian Wright voyaging on the banks of Yukon River in Globe trekker during my teenage years. But as I have stumbled upon a book called “Into the Wild” written by Jon Krakauer, my desire to visit Alaska became even deeper. Krakauer’s electrifying narrations about Christopher McCandless’s audacious yet thrilling voyages along into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley left an indelible impression on me.
It was a bit overwhelming to plan a trip to Alaska, however, once you’ll jot down what are the things you are yearning to explore, it’s easier to decide your itinerary. After nearly 1 year of planning, as we prepared to leave for this long-awaited trip, the excitement soared. Finally, the day has arrived. After a halt at the Salt Lake City, we reached Fairbanks and I felt jitters before landing in Fairbanks.
As it was summer in Alaska, flowers were in the full bloom everywhere. With towering snow-capped mountain, sparkling glaciers and various interesting attractions, Fairbanks is a diverse city and a sight to behold. We stayed at a bed and breakfast hotel in Fairbanks. We took a local tour of Fairbank and visited some exciting attractions including Pioneer Park, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, and Ice Museum along with Fairbanks Gold Rush Town Walking Tour and Downtown Fairbanks History Tour in first three days.
On our fourth day, we left for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a small charter plane. Our guide had already trained us on basic wilderness survival skills. The unique vegetation and diverse wildlife were so intriguing that the 5-days trip was not sufficient for us. We had one of the most impudent journeys of our lifetime as we were rafting and hiking in the Upper Marsh Fork of the Canning River all the way north across the coastal plain. We lost ourselves in the beautiful trails of the Books Range. While enjoying a vacation in this region, it would be inconsistent not to mention about the mosquitos which are the only thing one should take care of and pack mosquito repellent and proper attire.
Our next destination was Chena River State Recreation Area which was also a memorable experience worth remembering for a lifetime. Adorned with rolling hills, wetland, the spruce and birch forests, the Park is one of the best places I would like to recommend for outdoor enthusiasts. We hiked through the Angel Rocks Trailhead and Granite Tors Trail for three days and relished the best of these finest of Alaskan trails. We also spotted mooses grazing around the forests a couple of times. One of the most entertaining experiences we had here was fishing when we caught a couple of Arctic grayling.
After we returned to Fairbanks, we headed to Barrow by renting a car the next day to get a glimpse of the subsistence lifestyle of the native Alaskan Inupiat Eskimos. Packed with excitement and exhilarating adventures, Barrow had a lot in store to surprise us. From getting our first glimpse of the impressive visuals of Aurora Borealis to getting to know a lot about the Inupiat history and culture at Inupiat Heritage center, Barrow was a visual treat. Here, we took the Tundra Tour and our guide Mike took us to a whaling village and the Point Barrow which is ten miles away from the city. We also spotted two polar bears in this trip. After spending two days in Barrow, we headed towards one of my most cherished destination, the Denali National Park. Denali National Park nestled between the Fairbanks and Anchorage is as gorgeous as I anticipated and took only three hours from Fairbanks to reach the Park. The highway from Fairbanks to Denali is exceptionally scenic and this road trip was one of the high points of my whole Alaskan sojourn.
We rented a vacation rental in Denali from which we could see the glorious views of the Mt. McKinley. Once we relished our dinner of Arctic Pizzas, we went out to see northern lights with our guide and reached a remote place at around 12.30 AM. We had witnessed brilliant views of Aurora Borealis that night which was way better than what we have seen in Barrow. We lost count of how many hours we spend snapping and viewing nature’s magical light shows. We spent exploring the amazing scenery and wildlife of Denali national park for the next two days. We took Denali Tundra Wilderness Tundra where we roamed around deeper into the park and witnessed a diverse terrain and a grand view of the Plains of Murie. The best thing this tour offered us is the awe-inspiring glimpses of Mt. McKinley up close. We had glimpses of incredible wildlife of the Park in their natural habitat including moose, caribou, Grizzly and black bears. Rafting in Denali was another superlative experience which gave us the thrill of rushing rapids in a quintessential Alaskan River.
Anchorage is the last destination of our Alaska itinerary and it’s a good five-hour road trip from Denali. After stopping at several scenic points en-route we finally reached Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. We took a day trip to Kenai Fjords National Park and its picturesque Vistas kept us mesmerized. As we departed from Seward in boats, we explored glaciers and diverse marine wildlife all along in addition to trying our hands on fishing Salmon, rainbow trout and grayling. We also took the scenic Alyeska Aerial Tram journey and enjoyed breathtaking vistas on top of the mountain. On our last day in Anchorage we savored some specialty beers including cask-conditioned ales and oak-aged beers in a couple of finest breweries with a great menu of local food comprising of handcrafted pizzas, reindeer sausage and some quintessential Alaskan Salmon dishes.
Finally the day has arrived when with a heavy heart we bade farewell to Alaska with promises of going back there to visit parts we couldn’t cover and a truckload of memories to last for a lifetime.
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