Have you ever seen the blue ice of a glacial cave, or heard a glacier calve? Have you ever watched a pack of sled dogs mush? Have you fished alongside a brown bear? What about walked across the sealed cap of an active volcano?
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Check all these and more off your list this summer by visiting some of Alaska’s national parks. Here are four of our favorites. Each park has its own special draw—and each of these is nearby an Alaska Tour Jobs location!
Denali National Park is six million acres of wild land. It’s the third largest park in Alaska. The centerpiece of the park is Denali, the tallest peak in North America, but there is so much more to see and do here. Novice and experienced hikers could spend months exploring the trails of Denali. Visit one of the many wildlife viewing spots in the park to see moose, bears, caribou, wolves, and wild sheep.
If you love dogs, visit the famous sled dog kennels of Denali. In the summer, the dogs give free demonstrations three times daily. (In the winter, they’re too busy mushing through the snow!)
2. Kenai Fjords
What’s a fjord? You don’t have to go to Norway to find out. Fjords are narrow, deep channels of water that cut between cliffs. They’re usually formed by glaciers, which is why you’ll find them in Alaska, too! Forty glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, and a trip to the Kenai Fjords means hiking on these mammoth ice sheets and kayaking the coves surrounding them. This natural beauty is only a couple hours outside Anchorage. Make sure you don’t skip a journey inside an ice cave!
3. Glacier Bay
If you want to observe marine mammals, Glacier Bay is the destination for you. You’ll find harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, orcas, dolphins, and humpback whales. Seals and sea lions are often seen sunning themselves on shore or hanging out on floating chunks of ice.
The ecosystem of Glacier Bay is a fascinating, but it’s the glaciers you’ll remember. There are nine tidewater glaciers here that calve. “Calving” is when a chunk of ice breaks off from the main glacier and floats freely. The resulting icebergs can be big—up to the size of Rhode Island! You’ll remember the ringing, gunshot-like crack of the glacier splitting for the rest of your life.
Katmai National Park is home to the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. You can visit the site of the Novarupta explosion of 1912, as well as the singular Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which was formed when ash and pumice filled the Ukak River Valley. The trapped water beneath the volcanic debris evaporated as steam from the surface of the land for decades after the eruption. There’s also the stunning caldera of Mt. Katmai—a lake of over 800 feet of blue water inside the blown-out magma chamber.
But there’s more to Katmai than volcanoes. It’s also an angler’s paradise. The salmon run begins in late June. You’ll see swarms of salmon and trout glutting the rivers here in the summer. But watch out for bears—they’re fishing too!
There’s no bad national park to visit this summer in Alaska. The only way you can go wrong is if you don’t go anywhere at all. Alaska Tour Jobs has locations across Alaska, so wherever you’re posted you won’t be far from adventure.