Re­mote Ex­plo­ration

Where Alaska - - The Guide -

End­less acres of Alaska State Parks and Na­tional Wildlife Refuges of­fer abun­dant op­por­tu­ni­ties for the re­mote back­coun­try ad­ven­turer. Raft the Kongk­agut River, float the Yukon River, back­pack through the Arc­tic Na­tional Wildlife Refuge or pack­raft down the Alatna River. Guid­ing ser­vices make this easy—just make your reser­va­tion!

BUSH ALASKA

Bush Alaska is also a mecca for those who de­sire pam­per­ing at an off-the-grid lodge with fly-in lodges near (and far) from larger com­mu­ni­ties. Ex­tra­or­di­nary fly-fish­ing and of­ten bear-view­ing is a fo­cal point for these lodges. Travel within the re­gion is typ­i­cally by small plane to smaller com­mu­ni­ties, (Alaska Air has flights to the noted com­mu­ni­ties be­low), boat, snow­ma­chine and even dog sled.

Bor­der­ing the Bering Sea, the Western Alaska coast­line is vir­tu­ally tree­less and bar­ren. Still the Western re­gion holds po­lar bears, musk ox, cari­bou, wood bi­son and wolves and mil­lions of mi­gra­tory birds nest in the area; this wildlife draws in­quis­i­tive visi­tors.

Called “the Bush,” the com­mu­ni­ties in Western Alaska are pri­mar­ily in­hab­ited by Alaska Na­tives who rely on the land in much the way their an­ces­tors did. Sub­sis­tence hunt­ing, fish­ing and gath­er­ing are com­mon prac­tices.

The Western re­gion fea­tures the na­tion’s largest state park, Wood-Tikchik, an area about the size of Delaware at 1.6 mil­lion acres. The largest wildlife refuge in the na­tion is also here, the 20mil­lion-acre Yukon Delta Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, and its ef­forts to con­serve wildlife pop­u­la­tions and habi­tats help to sup­port con­tin­ued sub­sis­tence in the re­gion.

KAT­MAI NA­TIONAL PARK

Vol­ca­noes and bears are at the heart of Kat­mai’s draw. Within the borders of the na­tional park and pre­serve are 15 vol­ca­noes (some still ac­tive) and North Amer­ica’s largest pop­u­la­tion of pro­tected brown bears at about 2,000 strong. You can hike, kayak, camp and ca­noe in the park or sport­fish in pris­tine rivers. And you can watch the best fisher of them all, the great Alaskan brown bear. At the end of the day—deep in the heart of wilder­ness—re­lax in a com­fort­able lodge.

KO­DIAK

Ko­diak (pop. 6,626) is lo­cated in the Gulf of Alaska on Ko­diak Is­land, a 50-minute plane ride 250 miles south­west of An­chor­age. Known as Alaska’s Emer­ald Isle, Ko­diak Is­land is the sec­ond-largest is­land in the U.S. It is home to the largest brown bears in North Amer­ica; world-class sport­fish­ing; the largest Coast Guard base in the na­tion; and is one of the largest com­mer­cial fish­ing ports in the U.S.

At­trac­tions in­clude Alu­tiiq Mu­seum and Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Repos­i­tory, Bara­nov Mu­seum, Ko­diak Is­land Brew­ery and the Ko­diak Mil­i­tary History Mu­seum lo­cated in a bunker from WWII. Visit in May for the King Crab Fes­ti­val and celebrate one of the is­land’s most lu­cra­tive fish­eries. A surf­ing des­ti­na­tion, Ko­diak Is­land waves have been com­pared to ar­eas of Hawaii (with a bit of a tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence).

BUSH COM­MU­NI­TIES

Unalaska/Dutch Har­bor (pop. 4,364) be­came fa­mous in the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s “Dead­li­est Catch” tele­vi­sion show about com­mer­cial crab fish­ing in the Bering Sea. It is the fur­thest west port for the State of Alaska’s ferry sys­tem.

Nome (pop. 3,695), on Nor­ton Sound, was a bustling gold-rush town from 1899 to 1903. To­day it hosts the fin­ish line for the Idi­tarod Trail In­ter­na­tional Sled Dog Race each March and draws prospec­tors for off-shore gold min­ing.

Other ma­jor com­mu­ni­ties in­clude: Bar­row (pop. 4,469), Bethel (pop. 6,241), Kotze­bue (pop. 3,153), and Dilling­ham (pop. 2,431).

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