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The Top Alaskan Wilderness Sights Part 6

Updated on February 26, 2010

These waterways offer a pathway into another world. The water is alive, and it's never the same twice. One river excursion may be memorable for the clouds of pesky mosquitoes. Another trip on the very same river may be remarkable for balmy weather and abundant wildlife.

But these are merely incidentals. The real focus on these trips is the water and where it leads: a journey that is always good for the soul. There are few things on this planet that can place your entire life into clear and sharp perspective as a trip on the waterways of Alaska. The sheer purity and scale of it all will change you forever. You will never know what is waiting for you there until you go and experience it for yourself.

Float Trip Locations:

Prince William Sound

Sea kayakers may choose from two points of entry that are road-accessible: Valdez (eastern Sound) or Whittier (western Sound). The region is an ideal choice for novices on a one-day excursion. Veteran kayakers will enjoy the challenge of an extended trip combined with backcountry camping. Unique to this trip is the opportunity to paddle among crackling icebergs. Be prepared for some of the best wildlife-viewing afloat. Watch for bald eagles, puffins, sea otters, and orca whales. Keep an eye on the mountainsides for mountain goats and Dall sheep.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Sea kayakers can put in at Seward and paddle through one of the most wildlife-rich regions of Alaska. This trip is rated easy to moderate. Depending on your available time, you can plan for a single day on the water or book an extended kayaking/camping excursion. Get ready for spectacular views of fjords and sea arches. Listen for calving icebergs. Watch for seals and sea lions dozing on ice floes and for colonies of seabirds. Birders will find this an excellent opportunity to add to their life list.

Misty Fiords National Monument

Sea kayak through protected waterways out of Ketchikan along the Inside Passage. Make it as easy or difficult as you like, depending on whether you go out for a day, a week, or longer. Novices should seek out a guide for multiday trips. Load your waterproof camera for fantastic shots of the Inside Passage, where mist hangs moodily over glacier-formed fjords and volcanic formations. Sit back for a leisurely and scenic paddle through one of the state's largest wilderness areas. Depending on the season, you may spot a whale or two.

Copper River

Drive to Chitina in south-central Alaska for the put-in, and raft or kayak this exciting glacier-fed river. Pass between snowcapped mountains, view Childs Glacier, and drop into a broad river valley. The river is rated Class II with Class III sections (moderate with some difficult stretches). The ratings often are upgraded one more level to account for the danger of extremely cold water. This is Alaska's fourth-largest river, flowing from the mountainous interior to coastal rain forest. In some places, it is broad and lazy; in others, wild and challenging. Guaranteed, you'll enjoy the jaw-dropping cross section of scenery, including 16,000-foot snow-covered peaks.

Continued In The Top Alaskan Wilderness Sights Part 7

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