Alaska 2018 National Parks trip Preperation

Visiting all eight national parks in Alaska is an enormous planning operation and a once in a life time opportunity. To be able to see all natural wonders it is absolutely necessary to plan ahead and make sure you are ready for what is coming.  Visiting all 8 national parks is an expensive journey which costs at least 7.500$ and could reach 10k$ easily.

There are three national parks easy accessible by car:

  • Denali National Park
    • In Denali I plan to ride a bike over the Denali park road and enjoy the amazing views of the mountain area. After 15 miles on the park road you are not allowed to drive your own car any further. A good alternative is riding the bus with your bike and bike back to your car. Denali campground starts taking reservations in December (Reserve Denali )
  • Wrangell St. Elias National Park
    • Wrangell is a beautiful national park but also extremely big. To get a good idea of the size of this park and have a stunning view of the glaciers I plan to take a flight-seeing tour over the southeast part of the park
    • Stay at Jumbo Creek Campground
    • Kennecott Mill Town Tour
    • Scenic Flight from MccArthy or Nabesna (Wrangell Mountain Air
    • Hike Glacier (Kennicott GuidesDay hikes) 
  • Kenai Fjords National Park

The other 5 park are much harder to reach and you need to book a small bush plane flight to access these parks.

  • Katmai National Park
    • Accessible with a commercial airline to King Salmon
    • From King Salmon you take a bush plane to Brooks Falls
    • Early January of each year, the NPS reservation system (Recreation.gov) opens for Brooks Campground and the lodges.
    • Amazing views of bears feeding with Salmon in the river.
    • Valley of 10.000 smokes -> hike with ranger over the ash landscape created by the Novarupta Volcano in June 1912.  More info see Katmailand
  • Kobuk Valley ParkGates of the Arctic National Park
    • Both Parks can be visited on flight-seeing tours from Kotzebue in the west or Bettles (North of Fairbanks)  In both places you can get the National park passport stamps for both parks. I decided to join a 12 day Kayak and backpack adventure with Alaska Alpine Adventures. During this 12 day trip I truly experience the beauty of these two Arctic parks.
      • Alaska Alpine Adventures (12 day trip for twice the money of a 1day flight-seeing tour) Leaves from Fairbanks and returns with a commercial flight from Kotzebue to Anchorage.
    • Other Day tour options to both Arctic national parks

Weather
The weather in Alaska is very unpredictable. When you travel up north to visit all national parks, make sure you have some headroom in your schedule  when the weather forces you to change your plans.

July is the best month to visit Katmai to see bears due to the Salmon run.
August is a better time to visit Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Park. The first darkness reappears and there are less mosquitoes compared to July. When you would like to see whales in Glacier Bay it is better to visit this park after mid June when the whales return.

Watch Alaska Live (PBS and BBC production)
During my planning phase in 2017, I was lucky that the PBS and BBC started a new documentary season called “Wild Alaska Live”

 

 

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