From road-and-sea level up to 20,320 feet, visitors continue to explore the places that make Alaska spectacular. Beginning in 2012, a multitude of anniversaries mark some natural and man-made creations that keep visitors coming back to the 49th state.
Starting with a single vessel before statehood, and growing to its current fleet of 11 vessels, the Alaska Marine Highway System is now carrying hundreds of thousands of people and vehicles to communities throughout the state of Alaska each year, and will commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2013. One of the newest stops along the marine highway system, Gustavus, also known as the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park, is now is accessible by ferry departing from Juneau, making it the first time Glacier Bay National Park and the city of Gustavus have ever been linked to the road system. For detailed ferry information on rates, booking and schedules, please contact the Alaska Marine Highway System at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/.
Traveling to Alaska with a vehicle can be a worthy venture of its own, especially if it includes the ultimate North American road trip up the Alaska Highway, which marks its 70th anniversary in October 2012. Also known as the ALCAN, the Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II and runs from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to the junction with the Richardson Highway in Delta Junction, Alaska. Travelers can research the various routes between the Lower 48 and Alaska as well as find maps, points of interest, travel tips and more at www.northtoalaska.com.
Katmai National Park and Preserve will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the eruption of the Novarupta volcano on June 6, 2012. The eruption created the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, a spectacular 40-square-mile, 700-foot-deep ash flow and was the basis for the creation of Katmai National Park. Today, Katmai is famous for its dramatic landscape, brown bear viewing and pristine waterways abundant with fish. Visitors travel to Katmai to camp in the backcountry, kayak the chain of lakes and rivers and fish for Alaska’s five species of salmon as well as rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling and northern pike. Day trips can be arranged from Kodiak, Homer and Anchorage. Read more about Katmai at www.nps.gov/katm/index.htm.
A highlight of any Alaska vacation is a trip to America’s crown jewel of the National Park system, Denali National Park and Preserve. Towering over the Alaska tundra an impressive 20,320 feet above sea level, Mount McKinley is fast approaching the 100th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the main or South Summit on June 7, 1913. Visitors to the Anchorage Museum this summer can explore what drives more than 1,000 climbers to attempt to summit North America’s highest peak each year through the exhibit, “The High One: Reaching the Top,” on view April 6 through Oct. 21. Historical and contemporary climbing gear, videos, first-hand narratives and photographs tell the history of McKinley mountaineering from the first recorded attempt through today.
For more information on visiting Alaska, go to www.TravelAlaska.com.