When your idea of getting away from it all has nothing to do with spa treatments and golf resorts, it’s time to start digging into the backwoods of the Internet to discover hidden gems like Alaska. While your friends may have taken a touristy Alaskan cruise and came back with pretty iceberg pictures, this type of vacation isn’t really your style. Instead, here’s your guide for getting off the boat, off the grid and enjoying America’s final frontier.
Heli-skiing, bald eagle preserves and ATV tours are just the start of the outdoorsy, off-road adventures you can get into in Haines, Alaska. Even getting there is a breathtaking adventure, whether you travel by plane, ferry or car.
Heli-skiing is a big draw in Haines and a great way to get away from long lines, chair lifts and bunny slopes. It’s not for the faint of heart with vertical drops over 5,000 feet and 1,200 miles of mountains, so it is the ultimate experience for hard-core snowboarders and avid skiers. You can go for a single run for less than $200, and a full day of avalanche-avoiding insanity will run you around $1,100. Check out Alaska Heliskiing’s website for current snow reports and to submit an application for a reservation.
Drive an ATV through the wilderness in Haines to check out beavers, moose, bald eagles and the occasional bear for an outdoors version of sightseeing. Top it off with a fresh halibut and barbecue chicken lunch. You can even strap in the kids and bring them along on this adventure.
For around $1,500 per person, Alaska Outdoors lets you choose your own adventure from a multitude of state parks. It also includes activities, such as sea kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding and world-class fishing. The company works with small groups (less than 10) and provides the real-deal experience, meaning you’re camping out, not hiking from hotel to hotel. Meals, equipment and a well-seasoned tour guide are included. Tours are available June through August.
What to Bring
What you need to pack and the gear you need to bring is a little different in Alaska. As with any outdoor paradise, preparation is key. A rain suit and rubber boots are an important part of your wardrobe in Alaska, no matter what time of year. Between your kayaking, canoeing and snow excursions, you need gear that will keep you warm and dry. Rain suits made of coated nylon with factory-sealed seams are a better option than heavy rubber or plastic that easily rips. Don’t forget bug spray, a down sleeping bag and high-tech base layers of clothing that wick away sweat and keep you well insulated. A two-way radio and a GPS device couldn’t hurt either.
If you want to document your epic adventures, invest in a waterproof camera or a waterproof phone case. Better yet, get a GoPro and a body harness to create awe-inspiring YouTube videos. It’s best to come prepared, so don’t plan on being able to find high-tech gear once you get there — not for a reasonable price anyway.