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Why we’re going to Alaska (and why you should too)

Alaska has always stood apart from the rest of the US states, with its national parks as large as many nations. This place invites you to feel the call of the wild, offering an incomparable adventure for travellers looking for something away from the beaten track. So, here’s why we’re going to Alaska (and why you should too).

Anchorage

The largest city in Alaska is still infused with its wild spirit, and Anchorage really is a metropolis like no other, wedged between spectacular mountain ranges and stretches of water populated by whales. This rugged state capital is a gateway to the nearby National Parks, and the people who live here share their wild landscape with families of wolves, moose and bears. Stop for a bite in one of the city’s many restaurants and you’ll always find ridiculously fresh seafood.

Denali National Park

Denali is home to six million acres of wild land. The beautiful taiga forests give way to a sparse tundra with snow capped mountains and America’s tallest peak, Denali Mountain. Known as ‘the roof of America,’ Denali stretches over 20,000 feet above sea level, and is a sight to behold on a clear day.

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Mount Denali ! Alaska! Highest peak in North America!

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MacLaren River Lodge

The Maclaren River Lodge is situated in high alpine country, near the base of the Maclaren Glacier. When we visit, we meet our hospitable hosts Alan and Susie, who know the local landscapes better than anyone. They take us on a glorious boat ride up the glittering waters to the Wilderness Glacier Camp, before heading back for a stay at the cosy lodge nestled on the banks of the river. Save your Insta snaps for upload later, ‘cos there’s no phone reception here – just camping, exploring and hiking in the wilderness.  

Wrangell - St Elias National Park

One of the National Parks we camp at in Alaska is Wrangell – St Elias. Rising 18,000 feet from the ocean, this place is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite and Switzerland combined. From lush forest to sparse tundra, with moose, caribou, hares and millions of birds to spot, when you visit St Elias you have options to pick up a pair of axes and go ice climbing, or take a hike over a glacier.

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Of all the parks in the system, I think it is fair to say that Wrangell-St Elias had one of the most profound effects on me. I really had no idea what to expect when coming to this park. I knew there were no roads nor trails, and that digging into this park was going to be difficult. I knew that it was huge…you can fit ALL of the other 59 National parks INTO Wrangell-St Elias, and still have land leftover. I knew a lot of “facts” about the mysterious park, but that stuff only goes so far. How were we going to get INTO this park and figure it out for ourselves? We ended up doing a 5-day backpacking trip into the heart of the park (including some ice climbing on day 1), and had a bush plane come pick us up at the end. What unfolded over those days blew me away. The sheer beauty of this park is outstanding..one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in my entire life (and I’ve traveled quite a bit). If you are looking for an off the beaten path mountain experience, look no further than Wrangell-St Elias. For guiding, we went with @StEliasGuides and they were fantastic..highly recommended! · @WrangellStENPS (the 42nd U.S. National Park) in Alaska was established by the @NationalParkService on December 2, 1980. · Stay tuned as @istefpayne and I count down all 60 of the U.S. national parks, sharing previously untold stories and/or photos from our epic road trip to visit all the parks during the 2016 centennial of the park service #onassignment for @natgeo and @fujifilm_northamerica. · While we are counting down, you can get your hands on a copy of our gorgeous 240-page National Park coffee table book for 25% off! Just go to the link in my bio and order a copy through Amazon. No coupon code needed, discount already applied! Price is as marked.

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