Be it acrobatic silver salmon or huge halibut, you could reel in a winner in one of many fishing derbies held in some of Alaska’s coastal communities throughout the season. Contact the local chambers of commerce or visitor bureaus for the area.
The impact of the 800 miles of 48-inch pipe on Alaska’s economic and social conditions has been enormous and is on many visitors’ "must see" list. Construction of the $8 billion pipeline took place between 1974 and 1977. Slightly less than half of the pipeline is buried. The remaining pipe is on 78,000 aboveground supports, located 60 feet apart following a zigzag pattern to relieve stress from the traveling hot oil. Over 800 rivers and streams had to be crossed as well as three mountain passes.
Winding from the Arctic region of Prudhoe Bay to the ice-free port of Valdez, the pipeline is visible near Fairbanks, Glennallen, Delta Junction, Valdez and along the Dalton Highway. The Dalton, which is known in Alaska as the North Slope Haul Road, is a 414-mile road built during construction of the pipeline to provide access to remote construction camps. The highway begins at milepost 73.1 on the Elliott Highway and ends at Deadhorse. Permits are no longer required to drive the gravel highway. Services are very limited and are only available at milepost 56 and milepost 175 at Coldfoot. Travelers should be prepared to drive slowly as the gravel road is very rough. There are four designated campgrounds along the Dalton Highway, and several informal campsites.
In many rural villages and communities throughout Alaska, visitors can learn about the Native lifestyle through guided tours and cultural centers. Authentic Native arts and crafts, including ivory carvings, totems, beadwork and baskets, are widely sought as gifts and souvenirs. Traditionally these products were produced for ceremonial purposes, but today many Natives craft their items for sale.
Alaska’s Native peoples can be divided into five principal groupings: Aleuts, Northern Eskimos (Inupiat), Southern Eskimos (Inuit), Interior Indians (Athabascans) and Southeast Coastal Indians (Tsimshain, Tlingit and Haida). Nearly 16 percent of the state’s population is Native. You may experience the Native lifestyle by visiting the many cultural centers and exhibits. Many of the centers provide live performances of dance and storytelling as well as exhibits of artists’ work.
The Russians were interested in the flourishing fur markets during their ownership of Alaska, and were typically not well liked by the Natives. Battles between indigenous peoples and Russians were disastrous for Alaska Natives, as were the foreign diseases that white explorers brought to the land.
Although Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, the Russian influence is still seen today in the communities of Sitka, Kodiak, Unalaska and Kenai, where onion-domed Russian Orthodox churches still remain.
State Parks, National Parks and Monuments, National Forests Alaska’s parks, monuments and forests offer extensive recreational possibilities - hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife photography, canoeing, kayaking or just sitting and taking in the breathtaking scenery and crystal clear waters. Not surprisingly, Alaska’s state park system is America’s largest, boasting almost 3 million acres and one-third of the country’s state park lands.
Clam digging is a popular local activity in Clam Gulch, just south of Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula in Southcentral. The season is open year-round. Check local listings for low tides. A fishing license is required.
Visitors travel from around the world to witness one of Alaska’s famous sled dog races, including the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, sprint races held during Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous, the Kuskokwim 300 and the Yukon Quest
International Sled Dog Race. Thousands of spectators gather to watch the excited sled dog teams race down the trail.
If you would like to experience dog mushing for yourself, you can take tours ranging from half-hour rides to weeklong excursions into remote areas. The ultimate mushing experience is the "Iditarider" program. Winning bidders in a telephone auction get to ride in a musher’s sled for the first 8-9 miles of the Iditarod.
Quaint bed and breakfasts and rustic lodges are two ways to experience the last frontier. Whether you are looking for homespun hospitality or the outdoor encounter of a lifetime, every region of Alaska has something unique and extraordinary to offer.
Photos and wording courtesy of the Alaska Travel Industry Associations