Alaska tour operators are gearing up for summer by outlining new excursions and special celebrations. For some, it marks a return to full service after three years of pandemic-related interruptions.
Skagway's White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) will commemorate 125 years of service in 2023 while also resuming outings into Canada. The pandemic halted the company's excursions to Carcross, Yukon, and to Fraser and Lake Bennett in British Columbia.
The cross-border journeys retrace a route taken by Klondike gold rush stampeders in the late 1890s. One-way and roundtrip tours are among varied options on this year's WP&YR schedule. Additional outings spotlight the White Pass summit, offer bus connections to Whitehorse, Yukon, and provide wilderness access for hikers.
WP&YR will host a May 27 celebration to mark its 125th anniversary, and subsequent summer events will also commemorate the milestone.
A totem at the Sealaska Heritage Institute Arts Campus. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Travel Alaska
Several other Alaska companies are also expanding tours this summer.
In April, the Sealaska Heritage Institute
will unveil the first 11 installations on Juneau's new Kooteeya Deiyi
(Totem Pole Trail). The nonprofit hired 10 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian
artists to create works for the 30-pole trail that will eventually run
from the downtown waterfront to Heritage Square, on the Sealaska
Heritage Institute Arts Campus. Signage accompanying each installation
will identify the clan, crests and artwork-related information.
In honor of its 100th anniversary in 2023, the Alaska Railroad is offering the 12-night Centennial Special travel package between late May and early September. The package highlights all three of the railroad's daily summer routes and includes sightseeing adventures in two national parks, a visit to the remote Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, a guided float trip, a sled dog kennel stop, entrance to an Anchorage Museum exhibit showcasing the railroad's centennial and other activities. President Warren G. Harding drove a golden spike into the ground in Nenana in 1923 to mark the track's ceremonial completion. Today, the Alaska Railroad's main line carries passengers and freight 470 miles between Fairbanks and Seward. Branch lines extend service to Whittier, Palmer, Healy and Eielson/North Pole.
Brothers Dan and Chris Morris founded Alaskan Footprints to spotlight the culinary highlights and history of Anchorage. The company offers walking tours of downtown and the Spenard neighborhood along with Matanuska Valley van tours and customizable private outings.
Palmer-based Revel Treks & Tours now leads daytrips and overnight adventures for explorers at all levels. Options include local cultural tours, nature and history walks, hike and brew outings and a seven-hour backcountry tundra trek. This summer, the company will also partner with Yoga Untamed on two five-day yoga and backpacking retreats.
The Seward Hospitality Group's new Alaska Adventure Park features a family-friendly ropes course, aerial challenges, obstacle runs, climbing walls, mountain bike trails and other activities.
New Juneau Lighthouse Tours excursions explore Auke Bay and travel to Sentinel Island, where guests will view a 1902 lighthouse and stroll a boardwalk loop with scenic views of the Lynn Canal fjord. Guides share lighthouse stories and point out wildlife ranging from bald eagles and Steller sea lions to humpback whales and Dall's porpoises. The tour includes narrated transportation to and from downtown Juneau, with a stop at the Brotherhood Bridge viewpoint overlooking the Mendenhall Glacier.
Klondike Electric Bicycles opened in 2020 and continues to expand its roster of e-bike and electric car rentals and tours. The new Skagway Trail and Sail outing is a nine-mile, guided e-bike adventure that showcases waterfalls, glaciers, scenic overlooks and wildlife on a three-hour tour. It includes lunch, a gold-panning experience and a sailing session on the Taiya Inlet. Visitors can also rent a Ford Mustang Mach-E electric car and cruise the Klondike Highway into the Yukon in Canada.