The southeast panhandle of Alaska, including Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, differs sharply from the more northerly sections of the state. Precipitation here is high, comparing with Washington state, so the trees, such as Sitka spruce, grow to great heights and can be harvested for lumber or pulp.
Some smaller cruise ships and ferries call at or explore Prince Rupert, Ketchikan, Tracy Arms, and Haines. Here are portraits of four lesser-known ports and destinations in Alaska.
Nothing captures the magic of Alaska better than the adventure of flying across the vast wilderness in a small bush airplane. Consider flying Fairbanks to Anaktuvuk Pass in Gate of the Arctic, plus Denali National Park around Mt. McKinley, and then with Ketchum Air to remote fishing lakes near Anchorage.
From my tent on Growler Island in Prince William Sound I gazed at vast expanses of the Alaska wilderness. Prince William Sound offers a visitor the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Captain Stan Stephen's Cruises, Bligh Reef, Cordova, Eyak Indians, clear cuts, salmon, halibut, Valdez, Glacier Island, and zodiac boats.
If you plan a ski trip or adventure outing for next winter, don't overlook Alaska. February in Anchorage is an option with some surprising attractions. Alyeska downhill skiing, cross country at Kincaid Park, the Fur Rondy or Fur Rondezvous, Eskimo Blanket Toss, Fur Auction, Crafts Fair at Egan Center, Pioneer Pancake Breakfast, Northern Lights, and Alaska Zoo are all good things to experience.
The return of wolves to Yellowstone and the proliferation of humpback whales in Alaska are two antidotes to environmental pessimism that I have experienced.
Grizzly or brown bear viewing takes place at Alaska Bear Viewing Camp at Lake Clark National Park in Alaska. This was formerly Wayne Beyers' homestead.
Getting Away from It All in Alaska: Flying in a Bush Plane from Anchorage to be Dropped at a Wilderness Lake. Ketchum Air flew me for an hour to Trail Lake and left me there.