ALASKA - Your Summer Vacation Inspiration

 Alaska 2020

 

Your Summer Vacation Inspiration

 

First-Timerís Guide to Alaska
Find out what every Alaska-bound traveler needs to know before they go.

 

Vacation Inspiration
See, Stay, Eat, Do: Alaska
From seeing calving glaciers up close to exploring Denali National Park to dinner with a spectacular mountain view, see our picks for best things to do in Alaska.

 

Alaska is for wilderness lovers. Prepare to be awed. ShoreTrips is the leading provider of Alaskan shore excursions. Our unmatched, personalized trips will take you to Juneauís majestic Mendenhall Glacier, Skagwayís White Pass Train, Denaliís natural marvels, Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords of Ketchikan, and many more Alaskan destinations!

 

Alaska Articles

1. The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Juneau

2. Best Things to do in Juneau, Alaska

3. A Quick Start Guide for Traveling to Alaska

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Juneau

The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Juneau 

Anyone who has a travel bucket list likely has two things on their agenda: Alaska and Whale Watching. Why not combine the two with a Juneau Alaska Whale Watching adventure. Whether youíre cruising through Alaska or are just visiting by plane or car, you can still join a shore excursion of a lifetime to go whale watching in Juneau. 

  

Why Go Whale Watching in Juneau on a Tour Boat? 

 

Hereís the scoop on what you should know and look for before whale watching in Juneau.  Many travelers assume they can just stay on their cruise ship for spectacular whale watching in Juneau. But in reality, they could easily miss out on an amazing experience of getting up-close and personal with these amazing animals. Cruises leave plenty of opportunity to spread out, enjoy the amenities and onboard entertainment and dining but small whale watching boat tours are unmatched for getting eye-level with the whales. After all, whales are also known to swim up near a small tour boat in curiosity or rub their belly on the underside of the boat. 

 

What to Expect from a Whale Watching Tour 

 

Downtown Juneau is a perfect stop for sightseeing, food, and fun, but thereís more to see and do just a short drive away where Auke Bay harbor awaits. Travelers embark on a whale watching tour for the unique opportunity to see humpback and orca whales, Dallís porpoises, steller sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and more. And once onboard the boat, guests relax while a captain leads the way to whales and other wildlife.  The tour guides are highly knowledgeable about the area and the social circles of whales to show you where they congregate. And beyond whale watching in Juneau, a tour should also educate visitors on the habits of the whales and daily life in Alaska. Itís a fun and interesting way to learn something new with the opportunity to see whales playing or feeding nearby. 

 

Best Time of Year for Whale Watching in Juneau 

 

The big question is what time of year travelers should go whale watching in Juneau to get the most out of their vacation experience. Travelers with flexibility should look to the months of June, July and August when whales are the most active and easier to find. But that doesnít mean you wonít find the first whales of the season arriving in April. These majestic humpback whales gather near Juneau and southeast Alaska after a long journey from Hawaii. The whales head to the islands to breed or have their calves all winter long.  Instead of staying in Hawaiiís warm waters, the whales come to Alaska for the long periods of daylight and nutrient-filled water. They also nurse their calves throughout their long journey. Once they arrive in Alaska, the young calves learn to feed, swim, and get their flukes up for diving. Although those summer months can be ideal for whale watching in Juneau, thereís also nothing like seeing those baby whales practicing their new skills and getting their tails going. Itís a shore excursion youíll never forget. 

 

Best Time of Day for Whale Watching 

 

Unlike other wildlife excursions where the animals might be snoozing through the day, whales are cetaceans and have an incredible way of sleeping. According to Animal Planet, itís believed a humpback whaleís brain actually allows them to sleep with just half of their brain, while the other half is still active. Thatís good news for tourists looking for the ďbest time of dayĒ to see the whales. It turns out, any time is a good time!  Rain also isnít usually a factor when it comes to whale watching, so thereís no need to monitor the daily weather for precipitation. Most whale watching tours will run whether itís raining or not, and are accustomed to hitting the open sea in a variety of weather. However, rough waters and winds might warrant a cancellation or delay.  

 

What to Look for in a Whale Watching Tour 

 

Regardless of the time of year or day you take a whale watching tour, make sure it has a naturalist or highly seasoned guide to tell you exactly what to watch for including the whaleís blow, or spout. On a drizzling, overcast day, you can see the whales blowing for miles away, but sunny days are actually harder due to the glare off the water. Another reason why a rainy or overcast day may be an ideal time to take a tour. Ask the naturalist what to look for on your tour, and about spy hopping when the whale treads water and looks at whatís just above the surface. Whales also like to tail-lob, pectoral slap, and might even breach the water or sail through the air in a soaring jump.  Whale watching in Juneau is an experience of a lifetime for animal lovers, adventurers at heart, and anyone looking for a unique excursion theyíll never forget. Just make sure to bring a fully charged camera, you wonít want to miss a single shot. 

 

Have you gone Whale Watching ? Let us know about your experiences.

 

Best Things to do in Juneau, Alaska

Lucky travelers heading to Alaska will find a variety of things to do in Juneau Alaska from visiting a majestic Glacier to dog sledding across the snow. After all, Alaska is known for its rich wildlife, lush landscape, and unbelievable beauty. And the best activities in Juneau are all about enjoying nature on unique excursions and experiences. Whether you are traveling by cruise ship or driving through the countryside, there are dozens of guided tours and hiking trails to explore. Get started on your unforgettable Juneau vacation with these eight unique experiences:

 

1. Go Whale Watching in Juneau

 

Whale watching is a once in a lifetime experience that canít be found just anywhere in the world, and whale watching in Juneau is particularly magical. After enjoying the waters of Hawaii all winter, humpback whales return to to the area with their new calves in tow. There are plenty of things to do in Juneau, but start your vacation with a short drive through downtown to Auke Bay. A boat awaits to guide visitors to congregating humpback and orca whales, Dallís porpoises, steller sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and more. Once on board and ready to set sail, an experienced captain and tour guide share their knowledge and love of whales, area wildlife, and the wonders of Alaska.
 

2. Take Flight on a Glacier Flightseeing Adventure

 

Aerial view of the mist hanging in the Tongass temperate rain forest, Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska.
Glaciers top the list of things to do in Juneau, but why stop at just one when you can see five? Travelers climb aboard an authentic Alaska bush plane for a unique seaplane exploration. Once in flight from downtown Juneau, visitors soar over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. Thereís not a bad view in sight with visitors seated along window-seats while an experienced pilot soars near unparalleled views of the glaciers. Learn how these glaciers make up 1,500-square-miles of the Juneau Icefield, and how the Taku Glacier is one of the few in the world actually advancing and growing.

 

3. Embark on a Helicopter and Dogsled Tour

 

There are few places in the world where you can visit a real-life dog sled camp, let alone run the sled yourself. Add a combo helicopter and dog sled tour to your list of things to do in Juneau and see stunning views of Alaskaís glaciers before landing on Herbert Glacier. Eager huskies bark their greeting and are ready to take guests on a dog sledding adventure. After some instruction, guests take the dogs out on a 1 1/2 to 2-mile loop. Thereís even time to chat with real-life mushers about the Iditarod backcountry and snap some photos. Afterward, the helicopter stops at a lower level of the glacier for a walkabout to see even more of Alaskaís unique landscape. This tour typically runs from May 13th until August 30th, weather permitting.

 

4. See Brown Bears in their Native Habitat

 

If youíre looking for unique things to do in Juneau, make wildlife watching a priority. Many world travelers have never seen a bear outside of a zoo, let alone in their own native habitat. But instead of just seeing where the bears roam, combine it with a flightseeing and kayaking experience. Guests join this full-day adventure starting with a scenic, 25-minute float plane flight to Windfall Island. From there, hop in a sea kayak to Pack Creek or Windfall Harbor for views of a protected habitat dedicated to brown bears. This area is part of Admiralty Island, or ďFortress of the BearsĒ, where guests have the rare opportunity to see where upwards of 1,500 brown bears live, eagles, loons, and the incredible wildlife of this remote island.

 

5. Zip Through the Trees on an Alpine Adventure

 

There are many things to do in Juneau, but you canít beat a day of soaring through the trees. An Alpine Zipline Adventure takes visitors through Tongass National Forest to see a real Alaska rainforest. Take in the areaís unique flora and fauna before stopping onto an aerial suspension bridge. Of course, guests are securely strapped and clipped to double cables to ensure safety. During your journey, keep an eye out for Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees, Alaska wildlife, and old growth trees that date back nearly 400 years.

 

6. Canoe Past Alaska Glaciers

 

Getting close to a glacier is a bucket list experience on its own, but getting to do it by canoe is for the select few. Take a unique tour under a limited U.S Forest Service permit and travel by canoe to Mendenhall Glacier. First, climb into a traditional Tlingit-style canoe stretching 28-ft with all the safety gear youíll need. Now itís time to navigate past icebergs while paddling along Mendenhall Lake where arctic terns, eagles, goats, salmon, and even resident are known to make an appearance. But you wonít just see a glacier from afar, youíll come within yards of the towering Mendenhall Glacier for up-close photo ops.

 

7. Fish for a Catch of a Lifetime

 

Fishing enthusiasts dream of gliding along Alaskaís open waters for a chance at an epic catch. You can take a private fishing charter to find the best salmon or halibut for the freshest catch. Head out on a 30-ft custom designed boat complete with heated cabin and bathroom and get ready to fish for salmon or halibut. Afterward, the captains will even clean up your dayís catch and arrange to freeze and ship your catch home. Or you can take it to your accommodations and cook it up for a fresh fish dinner your family and friends will rave over.

 

8. Go on a Kayaking Adventure  

 

Getting away from the crowds and enjoying Alaskaís natural beauty is one of the best parts about finding things to do in Juneau. For a chance to glide along the water and enjoy amazing, gourmet food, join a Tongass Kayak and Gourmet Food Adventure. Expert guides launch visitors in a tandem sea kayak from the beach before guiding you through hours of wildlife and scenic viewing. Look for harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions, seabirds, humpback whales, and of course, plenty of fish. After a day paddling along the water, guests break for a gourmet Alaska lunch prepared beachside.

 

If youíre looking for things to do in Juneau, start with these bucket list worthy experiences. Which one is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts.

 

A Quick Start Guide for Traveling to Alaska

 

Finding that fantastical destination thatís ideal for a cruise, wildlife viewing, fishing, and outdoor fun sounds like a tall order, but is well within reach. An Alaskan vacation fits the bill for wilderness lovers and anyone who appreciates stunning scenery and plenty of fresh air. Alaska also makes for the perfect multigenerational trip, family vacation, adventurous singles or couples with something everyone will love. But it takes a little planning to create the perfect vacation for Alaska travelers. Hereís how to get started:

 

Best Time to Travel to Alaska

 

The best time to travel to Alaska starts with the right price point. Youíll find the lowest prices in early May and September when itís still cold and travel has dropped off. Although there are certainly ambitious people who travel to Alaska during winter months, you should be prepared for some intense cold and snow during scant daylight hours. However, if you want to travel Alaska during the best possible weather, June and July are your best bet for blue skies and a warmer climate to get outdoors. Of course, if youíre looking for more than just weather, you can refer to your bucket list. Got bears on your must-see list? Wildlife lovers should book their Alaska travel during July. Want to catch some glorious, award-winning King Salmon? Head to Alaska May through September to snag that ideal catch. Or maybe you want to hike the infamous Mt. Denali? Your ideal time to go is late May or early June when the weather is just right.

 

Best Time to Cruise Alaska

 

An Alaska cruise is a phenomenal way to see a diversity of landscape from snowy mountain peaks to icy glaciers. Alaska cruise season typically runs from mid-May to mid-September, with mid-June to mid-July being the peak season. This time period allows for optimum weather and daylight. Otherwise, you could end up with limited light to see and do everything Alaska has to offer. If youíre curious how long you should stay in Alaska, 7 to 10 days is usually a good bet. That range offers plenty of time to see and do a wide range of activities in Alaska. For cruisers, a lot of people go to the region three to four days before or stay after their cruise to pad in some time to explore further. However, itís important to look at the shipís itinerary before you book. Some ships only come into port for half a day, and that really doesnít leave enough time to explore Alaskaís beauty. Find a cruise that stays in port long enough to really enjoy a leisurely shore excursion in Alaska from dog sledding to rafting.

Alaska Vacation Ideas

 

You already know Alaska is bursting at the seams with beauty and wilderness, but what kind of vacation should you actually plan? An Alaskan cruise is always a popular option so you have a home base right on the boat with the freedom to get off and on for shore excursions and Alaskan adventures. Of course, a cruise isnít the only way to get an up-close look at Alaskaís wilderness that you canít always get to by car. A trip along the Alaska Railroad also offers unparalleled views into the backcountry. You can extend your trip and span across multiple cities and explore more of Alaska. Or you can opt for a shorter excursion that takes passengers through Alaskaís White Pass. Guests see glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, and trestles while a historic narration details captivating tales, local lore, and stories from the Gold Rush era over the course of a few hours.

For an opportunity to see the Yukon unescorted and on your own time, a Skagway Jeep Rental gives you the freedom to explore basic roads and rough terrain. The area is renown for its gold rush days when prospectors would show up and brave sub-zero temperatures and waist-deep snow and trudge along the same path. Make extra time to plan stops at glaciers, lakes, mountains, deserts, valleys, and flats within a 75-mile range.

 

Travel Adventures to Alaska

 

Once youíve worked out your vacation details, itís time to choose your Alaska travel experiences. Alaska is big on outdoor fun and offers truly unique experiences you simply canít find anywhere else. Here are some of our favorites:

 

Experience Helicopters and Dog Sleds First Hand

 

From May 14 until September 7 (weather permitting) guests take a completely captivating Helicopter and Dog Sled tour for a journey through glacier-carved mountains. A short flight takes your group to Herbert Glacier where the sounds of barking dogs greet you. These pups are eager to get going, and after some instruction about sledding, youíre off on a 1 1/2 to 2-mile loop. The dogs are thrilled to run through the snow before ending their day at the dogsled camp house among 40 huskies and crew members. Youíll feel like a member of the family by the time youíre done!

 

Witness Sea Crab Fisherman at Work

 

Have you ever wondered what life is like for sea crab fishermen on Alaskaís notorious waters? Take a tour and see for yourself in Ketchikan for an adventure on the great ďAleutian BalladĒ. This crab fishing vessel was even featured on the Discovery Channelís Deadliest Catch Guests choose between a heated and sheltered amphitheater or panoramic upper deck to soak up the landscape around them. The tour glides alongside Alaskaís islands where a porpoise or whale may swim by and say hello. Youíll even see a live catch up close and personal as the Aleutian Ballad crew hoists up their nets. Afterwards they place them in a tank for everyone on the boat to see before gently releasing them back into the sea.

 

Go River Rafting at Canyon Run

 

River rafting isnít just a sport, itís an exhilarating adventure through Alaskaís Canyon Run. Youíll kick off your bucket list experience at the entrance of Denali National Park and head 11 miles downriver to Healy. A seasoned rafting guide helps navigate the waters and can tell you more about the area. Although the waters are ideal for intermediate to advanced boaters with medium-sized waves, fast currents, and obstacles; expert guides determine the safest way through the water so even novices can enjoy the ride. Get ready to get wet, this adventure takes you through rapids like the ďCable Car,Ē ďCoffee Grinder,Ē and the infamous, ďIce Worm.Ē

 

Enjoy a Private Sitka Wild Paradise Adventure

 

Go deep into Alaska to the Sitka Sound where the sea breaks against the edge of the wild Tongass National Forest. Visitors see glimpses of humpback, gray, and minke whales along with curious orcas. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and puffins also abound. The Tongass National Forest area is also abundant with brown bears that roam the forest and surrounding coastline. Take a Private Sitka Wild Paradise Adventure that glides safety by on a safe 31-foot welded aluminum vessel designed especially for challenging waters. Tours can be tailored to your personal preferences and hit the areas that matter to you most whether whale watching or visiting playful sea lions. Remember that an adventure in Alaska starts with your wish list from wildlife to unique dog sledding excursions and ends with sparkling stars and cool nights. Choose an Alaskan vacation that leaves plenty of room to indulge in your must-see bucket list and time to soak up the surrounding beauty as well.

 

Whatís your idea of an over-the-top perfect Alaska vacation?

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