Families looking to cool off in Alaska this summer can take advantage of increased air access, hotel packages and plenty of new high-adrenaline activities.
Getting there from the East Coast has never been easier with a new United Airlines direct route from Newark (EWR) to Anchorage (ANC), July 6–Sept. 8, with daily round-trip departures.
Once there, join in the festivities celebrating Alaska’s 60th anniversary of statehood with new experiences designed to showcase its massive mountain peaks, oceans, 135 miles of paved walking and biking trails and unique wildlife — including 1,500 moose.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, for example, will unveil the first via ferrata, or protected climbing route, in Alaska this summer. Located on the edge of the Triumvirate glacier, the route also features two suspension bridges. The property, reopened in February 2019 after a multimillion dollar renovation, offers such new summer activities as helicopter-accessed, fat-tire mountain biking; salmon fishing; kayaking; canoeing; white water rafting; glacier hiking; wake surfing; waterskiing; and wildlife viewing.
Or, take the kids to the 5-star Sheldon Chalet, located on five private acres inside Denali National Park overlooking the Alaska Range. The five-guestroom property offers expedition-style glacier treks, rappelling, igloo building, skiing around the Nunatak and sledding on Denali.
Perched 6,000 feet above the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre on Denali’s Ruth Glacier, the Sheldon Chalet is only accessible by helicopter from Anchorage or Talkeetna. The chalet, available at $2,300 per person per night, has an expert team including two guides, a chef and a concierge.
Explore Alaska by yacht with Pelorus onboard one of its exclusive custom wildlife viewing expeditions for a look at brown, black and grizzly bears and wolves. Wake up in a new location every day and spend time watching orca and humpback whales breaching the water, paddleboard around the icebergs and relax in the yacht’s hot tub.
The Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery train departs Anchorage daily during the summer months headed for the Grandview area and Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, both only accessible by train. Stay onboard to explore the loop district, a broad mountain valley, or step off the train to explore Spencer Glacier. Try glacier kayaking, trekking and rafting the nearby Placer River before rejoining the train in the afternoon.
Phillips Cruises and Lazy Otter Charters operate out of the port town of Whittier, where you can spend the summer exploring more than two dozen glaciers in Prince William Sound. The protected waters are home to otters, seals, shorebirds and you might even see orca, grey or humpback whales.
Take a road trip following the Cook Inlet Coastline south from Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm to look for belugas, bald eagles and Dall sheep. There are many turnouts along the road that are great for photos of the water and surrounding mountains, as well as day-use parking lots for trails and hiking. In Portage, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is home to bears, moose, musk oxen and many other Alaskan animals.
Finally, the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center showcase Alaska Native cultures and history. The museum’s art collections include a Smithsonian gallery filled with Alaska Native art and culturally significant items. The Alaska Native Heritage Center focuses on Native culture through live song and dance performances, as well as life-sized examples of traditional buildings. Using the Culture Pass, there’s a combined admission for both attractions and free shuttle linking them to downtown.