The Great Alaska Adventure

Written by Willie Karidis
    Monday, 05 November 2018
The Great Alaska Adventure

Nothing prepared me for the first time I went to Alaska. Mountains everywhere, turquoise blue rivers, friendly people and yes, a seemingly unending expanse of wilderness that captured my heart and changed the way I viewed the world. It is a true pleasure to be able to share the best of Alaska with all of you. My friends from Premier Alaska Tours and the Denali Education Center, both Alaska owned and operated, will be our hosts for the eight-night, nine-day experience. Our visit will include some of my favorite adventures including a trip from Anchorage to Seward on the iconic Alaska Railroad, a boat tour into magical Kenai Fjords National Park and a bus ride all the way to Eielson Visitor Center deep into the wilderness of Denali National Park.

Kenai Fjords is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. Fjords are glacial valleys that have been submerged below sea level by a combination of the land sinking and rising sea levels.

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The Holgate Glacier. Photo by Willie Karidis

After our time in Seward we will take a motor coach up through the interior of Alaska giving us the opportunity to see the fertile Matanuska Valley transitioning into the Alaska Range. Our destination will be the Denali Education Center a beautiful 10-acre campus located on the banks of the Nenana River. The campus is the home to Riverside Hall where all guest meals and all learning programs take place. 20829652214 f78db96261 o Copy 1024x683 The twelve guest cabins are located on either side of a wide gravel path that have two private rooms with private baths and a shared front porch. There are no TV’s, coffee makers, microwaves or mini fridges however there is wireless internet and AT&T cell service to keep track of family and friends.

Each day while in Denali we will have the opportunity to go on guided walks in the National Park, learn about the subarctic ecosystem and unplug from life in the lower 48. Our time will be highlighted with a bus trip 66 miles into Denali National Park to Eielson Visitor Center.

I love this trip. I’ve literally been on this trip over 100 times and each time I know there is the chance of seeing something, I have never seen before. (I am still waiting to see my first Wolverine!) Our eyes will be peeled to the landscape marveling at the beginning of fall colors and seeking both the large and small inhabitants that call Denali home. We will have the chance to see Dall sheep, Caribou, Moose, Grizzlies, Wolves, Red Fox and Golden Eagles but I would be remiss to not mention the Alaska State bird, the Willow Ptarmigan whose call distinctive call is unlike any other.

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A moose at the Denali Education Center. Photo by Kent Miller

If we are lucky we will see Denali, the High One, all 20,310 feet of majestic glory. Start rolling the dice now because there are no guarantees. But no matter what, it will all be special, rain or shine. Speaking of luck, August will also bring the opportunity to see the Northern Lights as it will be dark enough and warm enough if the conditions are right.

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights shine above Bear Lake in Alaska 050910 F MS415 009

Northern Lights. Photo by Joshua Strang

Be prepared for an active vacation and to be overwhelmed with the beauty of the Big Country, the 49th State… I’m excited to share my love for Alaska with you!

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis was born and raised in Milwaukee then took off for Denali National Park, Alaska, spending 25 years enjoying the wilderness of the Big Country. Gold mining in the bush, roofing in the Aleutian Islands and discovering the furthest inland whale in North American history were adventurous days. Working as the Executive Director of the Denali Education Center for 16 years was a time of wonderful exploration. 


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