Alaska The Last Frontier – Part 1

Denali National Park.

I LOVE ALASKA, so that will set the tone for you in how this series will read.  Some of the many reasons I love Alaska include the following.  First, it is still remote, the second, it has limited accessibility, third, nature, plus wildlife, beautiful scenery, it’s quiet, no traffic all puts Alaska on the leader board for places to visit.   Many of my best friends and clients have traveled, or are planning to travel, to Alaska.  Every single one has told me Alaska has been on a bucket list of places they wanted to visit for a long time.  I think I have heard every reason from them on why they waited until now to go to Alaska.  Let’s talk about a few of them.

Time – By far the leading fact to consider is you need to set aside time if you want to visit Alaska.  It is not a weekend trip for East Coast residents for sure.  Flights to Alaska are 99% one or 2 stops. The key access airports for Alaska are Seattle Washington, Vancouver B.C., Chicago Il.  It takes almost a full day traveling to reach Fairbanks Alaska, with the majority of flights into Fairbanks airport arriving between 8pm and midnight. There is a 3 or 4 hour time difference, so many flights coming back to the East Coast involve a full day, or “Redeye”, travel itinerary.  Someone told me “If it was easy to get there, Alaska would not be what it still is today – Unique.”

Inaccessible – Well not really but every place in Alaska is a challenge of its own.  There are many paved roads, both coming into the state and within the state.  These roads will take you to the most populous cities.  From there, single lane or unimproved, or natural roads are the norm.  Of course there is the Alaska Highway.  Don’t take my word for it, watch the TV Program about Alaska Highway Truckers and see the highway for yourself. Alaska does have a fine Rail system connecting some of the major cities.  Many of Alaska’s residents depend on the rail system to get around.  As a matter of fact, the Alaska Railroad actually stops along the tracks in certain areas, to pick up riders.  I have personally never seen another rail system in the world that still does that, but there may be.  Air is still the best way to get around to remote areas, and Alaska has a fair share of the worlds “Bush Pilots” as well as a myriad of special aircraft like “Otters” that function well here.  I saw a National Geographic article that estimated only about 10% of Alaska’s land mass is accessible by other than aircraft.

Weather – Yes indeed, you have to plan around the weather in Alaska.  Unless you are a real seasoned cold weather junkie, visiting Alaska is restricted to May through early September.  That one fact creates a short window of travel and a demand/supply ratio that is unique.  If you build a hotel anywhere except for two major cities in Alaska, your income will be derived within 4 months.  The tourism industry and the facilities that serve it exists only during those 4 months.  On the flip side, this creates a unique effect only seen here. Gorgeous flowers and plants “popUp” for these short weeks leaving a surreal landscape. Animals feed voraciously during those 4 months, creating a live nature landscape for tourists.  Nights can be cool, days refreshing with splendid views and surrounded by natures most beautiful starlit skies.