The end of winter brings a lot of discovery. That deck chair I thought blew away? It was in the yard under the all-concealing snow. But we find more than just wayward lawn furniture in the spring sun. We also learn about the new trips, attractions and tours heating up in Alaska for summer. So if you’re looking for a new way to see the state, you’re in luck!
Two new day cruise trips ply the waters of Prince William Sound this summer; Major Marine Tours and Phillips Cruises and Tours add new voyages from Whittier. Major Marine’s new half-day Surprise Glacier cruise transits the seabird and sea lion rookeries of Esther Passage before heading for Harriman Fjord and the face of Surprise Glacier, a stunning tidewater glacier. Phillips adds a new vessel to the fleet in 2012 and sends it to the glaciers and wildlife of Blackstone Bay. The Glacier Quest departs daily on a three hour, 45 minute trip.
Climbing McKinley (the Easy Way)
No, I haven’t developed a new “escalator-only” route up the continent’s tallest peak, but a slew of new exhibits at the Anchorage Museum give everyone a view of Alaska climbing. The High One: Reaching The Top shows off climbing gear through the ages. Checking out early climbing gear cobbled together from everyday clothing and hefting packs from three eras gives one a very weighty look at how climbing changed. The historical photographs in Ascent: 20,320 show almost 100 years of climbing Mount McKinley through the lens of the National Park Service.
The popular works of photographer Bradford Washburn return to the museum as well. Washburn captured his black-and-white photographs of the landscape hanging out of an airplane, tethered by straps while aiming his camera. The photos are beautiful taken on their own, but they also provided climbers with some of the first accurate maps of Mount McKinley.
Downtown Derby Details
Salmon returning to Alaska waters is a big part of summer, and the return of the Slam’n Salm’n Derby is huge news. The annual fishing derby took a break in 2011 as the event’s organizer, the Downtown Soup Kitchen, focused on construction of a new building. The competition returns to Ship Creek June 8-17, 2012. With divisions for visitors and kids, not to mention specially tagged fish, you don’t need to reel in the biggest fish to land great prizes.
Stow the heavy coat, break out the sunglasses and enjoy a new look at Alaska this summer!
By Jack Bonney, Visit Anchorage, for Coast Magazine, May 2012 issue.