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The Must Do’s of Alaska

Embarking on an Alaskan adventure is a symphony of untamed nature, and for us, immersing ourselves in the mesmerizing world of wildlife takes the top spot on our “Must-Do” list. In Alaska, encountering the majestic Eagles, the regal Moose, formidable Bears, graceful Elk, and elusive Dall Sheep is as commonplace as the breathtaking landscapes that unfold outside your window as you journey through the rugged terrain. A highlight etched in our memories involves a heart-pounding moment as we witnessed a mother Moose and her two playful offspring racing alongside our Jeep—an absolute thrill that encapsulates the essence of Alaska’s untamed beauty. For those eager to forge a closer connection with Alaskan wildlife, our journey unfolded through various unforgettable encounters, and we’re thrilled to share a few recommendations based on our firsthand experiences.

1. Musk Ox Farm:
Embarking on a journey through the captivating world of Musk Ox, we found ourselves engrossed in two distinctive experiences, each unveiling the fascinating tale of these enigmatic creatures. Our first stop was The Musk Ox Development Corporation, a non-profit organization nestled 45 miles north of Anchorage, near Palmer, Alaska. Devoted to the gentle husbandry of musk ox, their mission encompasses education, public awareness, and the domestication of these magnificent animals for the production of qiviut—the inner wool of the Musk Ox. Shed annually during spring, the qiviut is meticulously gathered as the animals undergo their natural molt. The farm’s skilled workers delicately brush the musk oxen, and the harvested wool undergoes a transformative process to yield silky, luxurious yarn and garments—deemed the finest wool in the world.

Observing these creatures, once contemporaries of woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, is nothing short of captivating. Picture super hairy cows with diva attitudes, and you’re close to capturing their intriguing essence. Opting for a guided tour, we delved into an up-close encounter, witnessing their playful ball games, hindquarter scratches, grazing rituals, and spirited quarrels. The tour culminated in the farm’s gift shop, where we marveled at garments ranging from gloves to scarves and hats, all crafted from the exquisite quiviut. This unique experience proves to be immensely family-friendly and offers a profound connection to Alaska’s wildlife heritage.

Our Musk Ox exploration extended to the Robert G White Large Animal Research Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Housing musk ox and reindeer during our visit, this research station periodically hosts an array of large animals for diverse research and educational projects, spanning reproduction, nutrition, energetics, and behavior.

For an unparalleled experience in Alaska, delving into the world of Musk Ox is an absolute must. The journey unfolds as a unique blend of education, entertainment, and appreciation for these extraordinary creatures—a spectacle not to be missed.

Click Here for more information: https://www.muskoxfarm.org/

2. Interact with Sled Dogs:

In Alaska, a multitude of sled dog experiences awaits, offering a diverse range of interactions with these industrious canine companions. Whether they’re pulling you through the winter snow, navigating dirt trails in the summer, or simply enjoying head rubs and wagging tails, the options are as varied as the seasons. Our choice on this particular journey led us to the Sled Dogs of Denali National Park, where the rich cultural legacy of sled dogs has thrived for thousands of years.

The Sled Dogs of Denali hold a vital role deeply embedded in the fabric of Alaskan life. Since the 1920s, these dogs have collaborated with park rangers, contributing significantly to the preservation of Denali National Park’s sprawling wilderness, spanning over 2 million acres of designated natural space. Remarkably, they stand as the sole sled dog team in the United States entrusted with safeguarding a national park, embodying crucial chapters of the American narrative.

Beyond their historical significance, these sled dogs exude an irresistible charm. During our visit to their kennel, many graciously allowed us to shower them with affection through head rubs. Yet, their true passion lies in their work, evident in the anticipation that fills the air when their ranger steps into the kennel. Even in the summer, these dedicated pups don’t take a break; they embark on extensive runs with their rangers and teams daily. Their palpable enthusiasm upon the ranger’s arrival is a testament to their readiness for action, underscoring their commitment to the tasks that define them.

Click Here for more information: https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/meet-the-sled-dogs.htm

3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center —Portage, Alaska 

For those captivated by the enchanting tales of Alaska’s wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage beckons as a haven of wonder and preservation.

Perhaps you’ve tuned in to the Disney+ spectacle, “Alaska Animal Rescue,” and yearn for a firsthand encounter with the furry and feathered stars that grace the screen. This conservation sanctuary is a dedicated custodian of Alaska’s diverse wildlife, committed to their well-being through conservation, education, research, and exemplary animal care.

As you navigate the center’s expanse, spanning a 1.5-mile loop around the sanctuary, various avenues unfold for an immersive wildlife experience. Whether by bike, on foot, or behind the wheel, the choice is yours. During our visit, we opted to stroll, reveling in the proximity to rehabilitating animals on the path. For those seeking a more profound understanding of the center’s history and wildlife, a 90-minute guided tour offers an enlightening journey—with the added bonus of feeding an animal along the way. Given the popularity of these tours, early booking is advisable for those eager to secure their spot.

The roster of residents we encountered during our visit comprised eagles, porcupines, bears, reindeer, mountain lions, moose, caribou, and the iconic musk ox. Each visit contributes to the center’s noble mission of ensuring the health and vitality of Alaskan wildlife. If the cause resonates with you, consider both visiting and contributing to this commendable effort. Your support plays a crucial role in sustaining the splendor of Alaska’s wildlife for generations to come.

Click Here to Learn More: https://alaskawildlife.org/

4.  Alaska Sea Life Center—Seward 

The Mission: Exploring Alaska’s Marine Wonders at the Alaska Sea Life Center

At the heart of Seward, the Alaska Sea Life Center stands as an educational beacon, dedicated to generating and disseminating scientific knowledge that fosters a profound understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s mesmerizing marine ecosystem. It distinguishes itself as the sole facility in the state seamlessly blending a public aquarium with marine research, education initiatives, and wildlife response efforts.

While its primary focus revolves around marine research and education, this nonprofit center also proudly holds the title of Alaska’s sole permanent marine rescue and rehabilitation facility. Yet, beyond its critical role in safeguarding marine life, a visit to the center unveils a captivating world where exclamations of “those are the cutest things I’ve ever seen” reverberate through the halls.

The Alaska Sea Life Center is a treasure trove of marine marvels, offering a plethora of enchanting sights. From the endearing Sea Otters (especially the charming baby Sea Otters) to the graceful Octopus, the spirited Penguins, the lounging Harbor Seals, the charismatic Sea Lions, and the whimsical Puffins—the diversity is astounding. The experience extends beyond observation, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in touch pools teeming with sea urchins and other delightful, squishy sea life.

A visit to the Alaska Sea Life Center is a must-do while in Seward, not just for the joy it brings but also for its role in contributing vital funds. By stepping through its doors, you play a crucial part in supporting the dedicated staff’s ongoing efforts to protect and rescue these remarkable marine animals, ensuring their well-being for generations to come.

Click Here to Learn More: https://www.alaskasealife.org/

5. Kenai Fjords National Park Tour—Seward 

Embark on the Ultimate Adventure: The Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

Indulge your wanderlust and make a beeline for the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour—an expedition we wholeheartedly recommend. In our view, it stands out as the premier way to immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of glaciers, picturesque landscapes, and the abundant wildlife thriving in their natural habitat.

With a legacy dating back to 1974, the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour has earned its stripes as Alaska’s most sought-after wildlife and glacier cruise. Opting for the 6-hour tour departing from Seward, we were treated to an informative and engaging narrative by skilled captains, ensuring we didn’t miss a single detail while navigating the enchanting waters.

The journey unfolded against a backdrop of tidewater glaciers, coastal rainforests, and remote Alaskan islands, creating a tapestry of awe-inspiring scenery. A delightful lunch served on the boat complemented the experience, with the surroundings reaching a pinnacle of spectacular beauty.

Nature unveiled its wonders throughout the cruise, treating us to intimate moments with puffins gracefully skimming the water’s surface, seals basking in the sunlight, humpback whales making majestic appearances, sea lions engaging in spirited disputes on massive rocks, and numerous pods of Orcas gracefully keeping pace with our boat. The Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise emerges not just as a tour but as an immersive odyssey into the heart of Alaska’s untamed wilderness, leaving indelible memories of breathtaking beauty and wildlife encounters etched in our minds.

Click Here to Learn More: https://www.alaskacollection.com/day-tours/kenai-fjords-tours/

In the vast wilderness of Alaska, our journey unfolded like a captivating chapter in the book of nature. From the iconic Musk Ox farms, where the spirits of these once-endangered creatures grace the landscape, to the heartwarming interactions with the Sled Dogs of Denali, embodying the ancient spirit of Alaskan culture. Our exploration extended to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where dedicated efforts ensure the well-being of diverse wildlife, and the Alaska Sea Life Center, a haven of marine wonders that stole our hearts. As we embarked on the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour, cruising through glaciers and pristine landscapes, the enchanting tales of puffins, seals, humpback whales, sea lions, and Orcas etched a mesmerizing finale to our Alaskan escapade. The call of the wild echoed through every experience, reminding us of the importance of conservation. Alaska, with its untamed beauty and extraordinary creatures, leaves an indelible mark on the soul, inviting all who venture here to become stewards of this pristine wilderness.

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