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5 of the Best Alaskan Adventures to Try

Alaska

From bears to ice fields, mountains to moose, Alaska has everything an adventure enthusiast could hope for. Away from the stresses of the city, towns like Homer and Seward provide the perfect combination of nature, excitement and authenticity. If trekking through the wilderness and white-water rafting are your cup of tea, then look no further than this guide to the best Alaskan adventures.

Alaskan Moose - Image: Kirsty Warner

Alaskan Moose

Image: Kirsty Warner

Hiking the Harding Icefield

Now this hike isn’t for the faint hearted. Beginning at the Exit Glacier Nature Centre, the hike winds through forest before providing you with the first glance of the Glacier. From this point you begin the climb to a staggering 3,366 feet crossing streams, ice patches and fields of flowers. The beauty of this hike is truly amazing. Allow between six to eight hours to complete the trail and make sure you are prepared for the elements. The only shelter after breaching the treetops is a HIT emergency shelter at 3458ft. The view from the top of the glacier varies depending on the weather, but even though we got soaked through and our view was hindered, the hike was well worth the effort.

Harding Icefield - Image: Kirsty Warner

Harding Icefield

Image: Kirsty Warner

Whale Watching in the Kenai Peninsula

One of my favourite experiences was the first time I got to see a Humpback whale, while taking a wildlife cruise around the Kenai Peninsula. The excitement began 10 minutes into the cruise with sightings of Steller sea lions, puffins and Harbour seals and only increased with the sighting of a Humpback whale flicking its tail. Whilst wildlife watching is unpredictable, a full day tour provides you with the best opportunity for viewing. Turning at the point where the glacier reaches the sea, the cruise provides a perfect view of giant ice walls and fractured glaciers. With the sounds of shattering icebergs surrounding you, baby sea otters on their mother’s stomachs swimming past and bald eagles flying in the sky around you, this adventure truly is once in a lifetime.

Top Tip: If you catch the right boat, they might even fish out a chunk of iceberg and mock you up a locally famous cocktail featuring glacier ice.

Ice Wall in the Kenai Peninsula - Image: Kirsty Warner

Ice Wall in the Kenai Peninsula

Image: Kirsty Warner

White Water Rafting in Hope

Having rafted in Thailand and the USA I know my rapids, but these were by far my favourite. With safety marshals spread all down the river you felt really quite safe although still a little nervous. On the way to the start we’d been shown a few of the drops we would be going down and I can tell you now these class IV and V rapids are not to be underestimated. The challenge really was staying in the boat. This six mile run of rapids allows for four hours of jam-packed fun. Running through three canyons, with crosses between narrow spaces and vast open pools of water this experience truly was exhilarating.

Ice Climbing - Image: Kirsty Warner

Ice Climbing

Image: Kirsty Warner

Ice Climbing in Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Starting off in an abandoned miner’s town (which is worth a bit of exploring if you find yourself with some spare time), you’re guided on a short hike down to the ice fields. One minute you’re in the forest and the next all you can see is ice and sky. So bright you’ll need sunglasses, the beauty of this place will amaze even the most seasoned of travellers. Strapping on the crampons and stepping on to the icefield, the ground beneath you changes drastically. Lead by an expert guide, navigating the ice becomes second nature. The first attempt at climbing is the hardest, getting the technique takes a little time but then you’ll find yourself racing to the top. Having mastered a smaller climb we moved on to bigger harder ones, even abseiling from the top then climbing back up. This is the first time I’ve tried ice climbing and whilst the outfit wasn’t very flattering the views from the top of the climb were worth the wardrobe disaster.

Kayak Views from the Sutton-Alpine River - Image: Kirsty Warner

Kayak Views from the Sutton-Alpine River

Image: Kirsty Warner

Kayaking the Sutton-Alpine River

One of the more relaxing parts of the trip, this Alaskan adventure started with a speedboat ride upriver to our camping location for the night. With no running water or electricity and just the beauty of the mountains surrounding we spent the night under the stars, sitting around the campfire toasting marshmallows. The next morning, we were rested and ready. My partner and I jumped in our kayak for the long paddle back. Dodging weeds and shallow verges, this adventure was a test of fitness and teamwork. Kayaking as a group really brought out the competitive streak in us and by the end we were racing to the finish. But despite the competition, it was impossible not to notice the views during our paddle. They were outstanding, and having the chance to spend the day out there in the wild surrounded by mountains was one of the most incredible experiences. 

Written by Kirsty Warner

Based in London, Kirsty likes to spend her spare time planning epic trekking trips in the wilderness. With the odd triathlon or music festival thrown in, she’s always looking for the next big adventure. Follow her on Instagram at @kirsty_1308 to view her latest travel pics.

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