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Like a Local: Alaska

Like a Local: Alaska

Close the guidebooks and let a local lead the way.

By Loren Holmes


Alaska has a name for recent transplants to the 49th state: cheechakos. It’s only after you’ve spent a winter here that you become a local, or a sourdough. Luckily for me, I was born in Anchorage more than 30 years ago, so I’ve been a sourdough all my life. My job as a photojournalist for Alaska Dispatch has given me the opportunity to visit almost every corner of the state, from the temperate rainforests of the Southeast to the arctic tundra of the North Slope. Alaska, the country’s largest state, has an overwhelming array of amazing things to see and do. So here are a few tips to make the most of your time and experience the Alaska that you won’t find in a guidebook.

Alaska Tourist Tips

Cruisers to Alaska will only scratch the surface. The popular ports of call, such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka, have beautiful downtowns, but the adventures that few get to experience lie just a little further afield.

From Juneau, take a five-hour catamaran ride into Tracy Arm, a quiet fjord where you can listen to the sound of a glacier calving and watch seals play among the icebergs. If you have time before or after your cruise, kayak into the arm, camping during the three-day round-trip from Juneau.

From Ketchikan, take a quick 45-minute floatplane ride to nearby Anan Creek, where you stand a great chance of seeing wild bears feeding on salmon. It’s also one of the few places where you might see both brown and black bears together, and with a mere 60 passes allowed per day, it’s bound to be peaceful.

Alaska: Off the Beaten Path

Alaska is set up to efficiently whisk tourists from Seward straight up to Denali National Park via train. That ride, especially from Seward to Anchorage, is spectacular, but it’s hardly off the beaten path. For some pure solitude, rent a car. Thirty-five miles south of Denali Park, heading east, is the Denali Highway. It’s a 135-mile dirt road with few services along the way….

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