Hear about travel to Alaska’s National Parks as the Amateur Traveler talks once again to Gary Arndt about his visits to each of the 8 National Parks in Alaska.
We talk about Alaska’s National Parks and in particular the 8 sites of the 24 sites in the state of Alaska that have a National Park designation: Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, and Wrangell – St. Elias.
To see all 8 you are going to need to get on some floatplanes, get on some boats and drive a little bit.
Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley are the most remote national park designated parks in Alaska. They are above the Arctic Circle. Gates of the Arctic, in particular, has no campgrounds, trails or even signs. It is a stunning park named after a series of mountains. They were named by an early explorer. Kobuk Valley has sand dunes. To get there you can fly there from Bettles. You can do both parks in one day. Your only other option is a couple of weeks of hiking or rafting.
They get maybe 800 visitors a year to Gates of the Arctic and 200 a year to Kobuk Valley. Gates of the Arctic is larger than 8 different states. If you try and visit all the 61 national parks these are probably the last ones you will get to. In the national park system, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is the least visited and it is also in Alaska. It gets maybe 100 visitors in the year and you also need to fly in.
Denali National Park and Preserve is the most visited park in Alaska. Denali is the highest point in North America and only 30% of the people who visit the park actually see the mountain. There is only one road into the park and you need to take one of the national park buses to the park. Gary stayed at Camp Denali and highly recommends staying in the park.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is the largest of the U.S. national parks and a UNESCO site together with Glacier Bay and 2 Canadian parks. It is part of the largest non-polar icefield in the world. Besides the glaciers, the highlight is a visit to the old mining town of McCarthy and the Kennecott copper mine which used to be the biggest source of copper in the world. Gary recommends a flightseeing tour and a glacier hike.
Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park and Preserve are southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula. In Lake Clark National Park, Gary went to Chinitna Bay on the Cook Inlet which is famous for its brown bears. He was amazed at how close you could get to them in the summertime. The reason people go today to Katmai is to see bears eating salmon. But the park was created because it was the site of a huge volcanic eruption in 1912 at the newly created Mount Novarupta. You can visit the volcano site today and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Kenai Fjords National Park is near the town of Seward Alaska. You can visit it via a boat trip from Seward or you can even do a day trip from Anchorage.
Most people who visit Glacier Bay National Park will do so on a cruise ship but Gary actually visited from the nearby town of Gustavus, Alaska. We also talked about Glacier Bay National Park on the episode Cruising Southeastern Alaska on UnCruise – Episode 473.
We also talked about some of the other national park sites including Yukon-Charley Rivers, Aleutian Islands, and Skagway.
Alaska has some of the remote and some of the most spectacular national parks in the United States. Learn more about these treasures in this episode.
Gates of the Arctic
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
Noatak National Preserve
Denali National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
Lake Clark National Park
Katmai National Park and Preserve
Bear Mountain Lodge
Kenai Fjords National Park
Glacier Bay National Park
Cruising Southeastern Alaska on UnCruise – Episode 473
National Parks in Alaska
Phil wrote about Travel to Boston, Massachusetts – Episode 630
He works at the Lowell National Historical Park which we talked about on that show to give me a heads up that the U.S. mint has created a series of commemorative quarters that feature national parks, including Lowell.
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