After 6 nights on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, we arrived in Homer with our friends Chris and Chris to start our month+ exploration of Alaska. Here is a Google mapped overview (generally) of where we traveled:
The darker blue lines are a roughly mapped itinerary of where we went. The yellow loops that appear to fly over mountains, lakes and glaciers, are flight-seeing tours. The lighter blue is a GPS track and may have a few photos attached along the way. If there is a big jump of blue or missing connections, the GPS was not recording and recorded a crow-flies view – or a gap where there was no GPS signal.
Ferry Arrival in Homer, AK
Once in Homer, we made our way to our waterfront campsite on the Homer Spit. Homer Spit is a natural gravel/sandbar extending out into the Kachemak Bay, an arm of the Cook inlet – just inside the Gulf of Alaska. The Homer Spit survived only because humans settled there. Time for us to explore the Homer area.
After a few days exploring Homer, it was time to head north and east to see more of the Kenai peninsula.
Before heading east and south again toward Seward, we took a detour to the town of Hope on the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. It’s a very historic and quaint town established as a mining camp in 1896. Some of the town was destroyed by the 1964 9.2 magnitude “Good Friday” earthquake. Many surviving buildings were moved inland a bit. Hope has a fun hippie, artsy, outdoorsy vibe.
The “gateway” to Denali. A nice tourist and adventure operations town down the road. We took our first “flight-seeing” tour with the highly recommended K2 Aviation.
Denali National Park
With a reservation in Denali National Park, we’re allowed to proceed into the park about 30 miles. Once into our campsite at Teklanika River Campground, we were not allowed to “drive” anywhere, other than out of the park on check out day. From here on, all exploring will be done on foot or by bus or some combo of both.
Just a quick trip up to Healy to re-provision, refuel and have an excellent lunch at 49th State Brewing.
Our vans are made for rugged 3-5 day “get away from it all” trips on roads many rigs cannot (or should not) navigate. The Denali Highway is a gorgeous 134 mile mostly dirt road short-cut from the edge of Denali National Park to the edge of Wrangell- St. Elias National Park on the eastern edge of the state.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Our last hurrah in Alaska will be the spectacular and huge Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Mountains, glaciers, lakes, historic mines and historic (almost) ghost towns – now being restored by the National Park Service in a state of “arrested decay” or in some cases full building restoration. McCarthy and Kennicott are at the end of a rough 60 mile “Road to McCarthy” – the re-purposed train-bed-now-road that leads to McCarthy and Kennicott and the Kennicott (or Kennecott) Mine area.
Fully rested and showered, it’s time to hit the road for another adventure away from civilization. After a quick re-fill of fuel and water and holding tank dump, we are ready for a few days at the remote end of the road near McCarthy. Once we cover the 60 miles of road, we’ll enter McCarthy via footbridge. We read the true scary/sad/horrifying book Pilgrim’s Wilderness before we headed up here, just to get in the spirit of things.
Cool, huh. Back on the ground again and treated to a little rain mixed with sunshine…
On our way out of Alaska we looped up along the northwest edge of Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Just before exiting into the Yukon Territory, there is another road to explore that dips south again into the park – Nebesna Road. Time for some more remote camping.
And that was our Alaska whirlwind tour in photos. A great time was had by all. Now it is off to Canada and to start the trek south. Winter is Coming.