Category Archives: Alaska

Alaska: Rafting the Taiya River.

During our stop in Skagway, Alaska on an Alaskan Cruise, we went on a rafting excursion through Skagway Float Tours. They picked us up in a van at the cruise ship dock…

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

…and we went on a forty-five minute ride along Nahku Bay and the Dyea Valley, a lot of the time on a narrow dirt road. We went through what was once the Klondike Gold Rush town of Dyea.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Along the way there was one eagle sighting after another.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

We crossed over the Taiya River, our rafting destination.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Once along the shoreline we put on waterproof boots and life preservers and we’re told the proper procedures to get in and out of the raft, as to not fall into the icy cold glacier water.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

It was then time to get out on the open Taiya River. Our tour guide did the paddling as we mingled with him and the six others sharing this adventure. He shared lots of tidbits about Alaska and the area, seeing greenery, the open river, snow-capped mountains, glaciers and more along the way. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 🙂

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

About an hour later and a few miles downstream we reached the end point. We took a few minutes to stare at all the Alaskan beauty around us, while enjoying the snacks and Alaskan salmon they provided us.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

The park bench and…

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

…raft were hanging out and soaking in the Alaskan beauty too!

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

It was time to head back out onto the open dirt Dyea Road and to Skagway.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Along the route was when I realized how far north we really were. It was only a short drive to the Yukon and Canada. On the way there we stopped for scenic and panoramic views of Skagway and the surrounding area. More on that in a future post. 🙂

It was a fun, memorable time hanging out on the Taiya River. Our tour guide was nice, giving us ideas on things to do back in Skagway. I would recommend checking out Skagway Float Tours and their Scenic River Float trip when looking for an excursion in the area.

What memorable excursions have you done when on a cruise? Any Alaskan adventures?

Photo(s) of the Week: All Signs Point to the Yukon.

While in Skagway, Alaska you’ll notice lots of signage that includes Whitehorse. Whitehorse is the capital and largest town in the Yukon in Canada. It’s a relatively short drive north. Twenty miles to customs!

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Alaska highway signage

In fact you’ll see travel signage pointing you to several Yukon destinations.

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

A Canadian road trip to the far north anyone?

Alaska: A Visit to Mendenhall Glacier.

A short drive north from downtown Juneau within the Mendenhall Valley is the glacier of the same name. People from all over the world, a lot of times via an excursion off of a cruise ship, head to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to checkout the glacier along with the mountains, wildlife, greenery and more.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

My fiance and I visited via an excursion in the early evening and immediately walked towards one of the vista points.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

The Mendenhall Glacier is currently twelve miles long carving it’s way through the Mendenhall Valley ending where you are viewing it from in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is part of the largest forest in the United States, the Tongass National Forest.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We were lucky enough to be there in during an unusually warm and sunny day. That led to some glacier reflection shots off Mendenhall Lake and time up close…

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

…with it’s cold glacier water.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

As you can see on the map above you’ll find plenty of walking trails to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness and different vantage points. It was a combination of tourists and locals walking their dogs and running.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Due to the warmer temperatures on average the Mendenhall Glacier has been receding faster from the front than it’s forming in the back. They say it might not be that many years before it will be hidden from view from the Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Off to the right of the glacier when viewing from the vista points is Nugget Falls, whose water falls into the lake, originating from the Nugget Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

All around the lake your bound to see mini floating icebergs broken off from the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Walk less than a mile on the Nugget Falls Trail from the Visitor Center to see the falls up close.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Be on the lookout for bears when in the park. No food is allowed within.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

It was a beautiful evening and time at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We got to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center by signing up for a tour/excursion through ShoreTrips and it was run locally by Orca Eco Tours. Our host and tour guide were very informative giving us lots of information about both the glacier and Juneau. Checkout other Juneau excursion options from ShoreTrips.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Some additional tidbits:

  • Checkout the history of the glacier in the Visitor Center. There is a $3 fee to enter. It sits up-top a small cliff.
  • It’s free to walk the trails, use the restrooms and visit the souvenir shop.
  • There are other trails going away from the waterfall and glacier where you’ll probably spot a bear and see lots of salmon swimming in the water.
  • The park is opened year around but just on the weekend with shorter hours during the winter and colder months.
  • Leave at least a few hours to explore all the trails and stare at all the scenery.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

What glaciers have you visited in your travels?

Photo of the Week: The Alaskan Capital Skyline.

The Juneau, Alaska port of call provided this skyline view of the capital city. Notice behind Juneau how quickly the greenery and mountains go straight up!

Juneau, Alaska skyline, Alaskan cruise

Pre-Cruise Concerns, No Worries!

I’ve traveled a lot over the years by car, plane, train and on foot. Never exclusively by water. Never via a cruise ship. A new experience was in store for both my fiance and I as we got ready to go on a Celebrity Alaskan Cruise.

Celebrity Solstice cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska

There were a few things, concerns if you will, going through my head beforehand. I love being out on the open road traveling, being able to venture as far or as short a distance as I desire. How I would feel being so-called “trapped” in a small area, with water all around, for two days at a time?

Once on the cruise ship, I started walking and exploring going in a given direction until I met railings outside or a dead-end inside. I had the confined feeling.

Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Cruise

As time went on though I realized with the width of the cruise ship and the number of decks, there was more than enough things to checkout. With a library, multiple pools, bars, a theater and casino, an outside lawn and more, there was lots of exploration possibilities.

The Library and indoor pool, whirlpool on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship.

Being on an Alaskan cruise and going through the Inside Passage we were pretty close to land at all times so every time you looked the landscape and water were different and always spectacular. I thought to myself, I wasn’t trapped. There is the Tracy Arm Fjord right in front of us from our concierge room and the mountains from an outside deck with Skagway straight ahead.

Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska from concierge room

Lawn, Deck 15, Celebrity Solstice in Skagway, Alaska.

Another concern was the weather and the waves and the possible motion sickness as a result.

The first night while trying to sleep, the waves on the open sea didn’t help my thinking. It seemed to be much better when out-and-about and having fun than when parked in one spot or trying to rest in the room. Checking out the waves up close in front of night two seemed to help. 🙂

Throughout the week-long cruise I noticed a lot of people wearing wrist bands and patches by the ear to help combat the motion sickness.

Not packing enough was at the forefront of my thoughts too. Swimming, the excursions, having to pack for all seasons and the formal dinners and functions on the ship all lead to what if I forget to pack something.

It turned out to be warmer than usual so a lot of the heavier clothes never got used. The rain jacket turned out to be my best friend, when it was cooler, raining or just damp like at the Sawyer Glacier.

Wearing rain gear at Sawyer Glacier in Alaska.

While on the cruise ship you could hangout and enjoy everything at your own pace, even more than I realized. What about the formal dinners and other functions? The timing of those was somewhat loose and if you felt like getting soft-serve ice cream and random assortments of food for dinner wearing shorts and flip-flops, you could have at it. There were plenty of shops on the ship and at the ports of call in case something was really needed.

Now on the silly side before the trip I was thinking about what I was going to do about my morning coffee. The excursions and ports of call fun were thought out ahead of time so I knew that there were coffee opportunities off the ship. What was on the cruise ship was more of mystery until we got on it. The first morning put the biggest smile on my face when I read the ships daily newsletter and saw that they had a grind of the day at a coffee shop on board, Café al Bacio!

Café al Bacio, Celebrity Solstice cruise ship, coffee shop

What a sigh of relieve. With specialty drinks and more, that meant it wouldn’t be exclusively black coffee on the open water. 🙂

A lot of the worries and concerns I had beforehand turned out to be an afterthought as the cruise got going. The Alaskan Cruise was an amazing experience for the both of us and next time I can just say, “No worries!”.

What things or concerns were on your mind before your first cruise?