Suggestions: Things to do in Alaska
Travelers often ask me: “Cruin, I know that going on tour with you is the most fantastic thing to do in Alaska, but after I've done that what else is there to do in Ketchikan, or in the rest of Alaska?”
Alaska is a big place, and I have not done everything! In fact, I've not hardly done nothin' here. But here are a few of my own personal favorite tours, places, and things to do. From South to North:
Come on tour with me, of course.
Go fishing. Duh! I don't know many fishing guides here. The one I do know, Chip Porter was almost as famous for his great guiding as he is for his fantastic photography
Chip took me out and helped me catch my first King Salmon here in Ketchikan, it is a memory I shall always cherish.
Alas, Chip Porter has retired as a fishing guide now (he still does fantastic photography). So there are no other fishing guides I have personal experience with, but if you contact me looking for a fishing guide, in Ketchikan, I'll see what I can do to help you find one.
Other than touring with me and going fishing, there are other types of tours I really recommend. I know the people involved, and I can, in fact, arrange and book you into these if you like.
My friend and fellow Scot (although he is more handsome), Devon Bitner, has a great Kayak and Electric Bike tour company.
Bering Sea Fisherman's Tour
I remember, on the only “Deadliest Catch” episode I ever saw, the Aleutian Ballad got smacked by a big rogue wave. I am happy she is now in calmer waters around Ketchikan, doing a tour that everyone loves.
You can contact me to help book this one, if you like, and I can fit it into one of my tours.
Great Alaska Lumberjack Show
When I met my wife-to-be in Ketchikan, she told me that she knew the words to the Lumberjack Song (from Monty Python's) in nine different languages. I convinced her to marry me by telling her I could sing it in Scottish Gaelic!
“Oh! – 'S e fiodhair a th'annam, agus tha mi ceart!”
Yes, yes, when people are in Juneau, they all want to go see the Mendenhall Glacier (and I do that sometimes). But when I am in Juneau, what I really like to do is go for...
at Chilkat Cove in In fisherman's Wharf, (2 Marine Way).
I think the best ice cream in Alaska, wrapped in a gourmand wafer cone that is imprinted with the native art of a Chilkat blanket. Chilkat Cove is the creation of Tony Tengs, who is a musician, a real character, and was, for many years, the famous bartender on the Alaska State Ferry, Columbia. That, in fact, was where I met him. He was the first Alaskan I ever met on my way up here. I consider that a lucky sign, and he has been my good friend ever since.
In Ketchikan, I have worked as a Naturalist aboard Alan Marine Misty Fjords tour boats and whale watching boats. Alan Marine is a reputable company, so I have no hesitation in recommending them.
But because I have heard only good things from a number of travelers about them, I must also recommend" Dolphin Jet Boat Tours. https://alaskawhalewatch.com/
Upside-down tree watching?
Weird as that sounds, I have heard from a number of travelers that they went here and just loved the tour:
The Upside-Down Forest of Glacier Gardens
Upside-down trees serve as natural flower pots in this hanging garden of Alaska.
On reading this blog, a friend on facebook D. J. Harrison, sent me two words: "T R A I N Skagway."
I tend to agree, just because I love train rides, but (despite being in Skagway numerous times) I have never myself managed to catch that train. Just remember, though, you are not just taking a train as a passenger here, this is a tour, and so is priced like a tour. I have seen prices range from $80 to $250 per person, depending on the type of tour and the duration.
D.J. also says this:
Port side on train going up. Starboard coming back. Take a coat. Take own snacks.
Tours by Locals Private tour:
There are a number of Tours By Locals tours in Skagway (although, strangely, none in Juneau). I don't know any of the operators personally, but one tour I myself have often wanted to do is the one with Raymie E:
I just think it looks good. I have had brief email contact with Raymie E., and she seemed very nice. As an option, Raymie E, can also visit the Tutsi Sled Camp (see below)
Tutsi Sled Camp
This is a fun tour. As well as Jamie E. I have some other friends in Skagway who go to the Sled Dog (“mushers”) Camp. You get to play with the puppies, and ride along a gravel trail pulled by the dog team -- there will not be snow there in summer (it is hot in the interior, and when there is snow, for instance in April, it is almost impossible to get into), but the dogs still need to exercise in the summer, so the musher (Iditarod racer Michelle Phillips), she is happy to work them out pulling travelers around in a wheeled cart.
The tour goes from Skagway, takes 4.5 to 5 hours, and sees a lot of other neat stuff as well as spending an hour at the musher camp. I do believe it goes into Canada, so you will all need to have passports with you. Here is a link to a description:
Price is: $159/adult, $139/child, and seeing as this is, in fact, a sister company to my own, I can book you in for this tour and would love to do so -- (we have a cooperative booking agreement).
Getting right up onto a glacier is certainly doable, but, I must warn you it is Expensive, because it involves a helicopter ride. Typical prices are about $340/person. They go from Skagway or Juneau, but might be a bit better from Skagway, I am told. If you want, I can set you up with one, or put you in contact with someone who can.
I also have a friend in Talkeetna, who conducts ATV tours over the tundra. I have not taken his tour (yet), but I know him, and he is a really nice guy. His tour has excellent reviews. He has only ever had one bad review, and that was from a lady who was upset she got muddy on the tour! Who would have thought that an ATV tour through the wet tundra could get you muddy? So I warn you right now, if the kids go on this tour, they will get muddy! Aside from mud, (actually, in part probably because of the mud) everyone says this is a great tour, and I am betting the kids would love it – the muddier the better!
$195 per rider, a15years or older, an extra $50/ride-along younger kid. About 3 hours. Around the tundra, up the mountains, lots of sights and wildlife, and if visibility is good you can see Denali.
I don't know much about Anchorage but there is one unique store and cafe that I love.
This place is great. Right in the heart of downtown anchorage. Has dolls, fish clocks, fur goods by Ketchikan native hunter and furrier Christy Ruby, and award-wining baked goods, and Haggis in a Can!! – what is not to love here?