Alaska Photo Journey

I’ve been thinking back to our Alaska trip last summer (2023), and I’ve realized I don’t have a single, encompassing compilation of our memories. Here goes!

British Columbia in May

The Alaska Highway connects the Lower 48 with Alaska, and it’s really the only way to get to Alaska. Like a lot of road-trippers, we stopped at its southern terminus, Dawson Creek, B.C., parked the rig (behind at right) and hopped out to celebrate the start of our journey with this iconic pic.

Which, in a way, is not all that significant, seeing as how we’d come from the farthest southern tip of the continental U.S. to get to this “starting point,” but this road would be our home for most the next three months, and we’d learn its historical significance along the way.

Yukon in June

Our goal was to meet up with fellow travels and friends, Doug and Melanie, but in the beginning we both kept stopping at interesting places and hop-frogging over each other.

The weather was decent to stop for a couple of days at Summit Lake, where we hiked all afternoon across the tundra, making noise in the woods to alert a grizzly who’d left the biggest scat I’ve ever seen (be relieved I didn’t include that photo).

We finally caught up with Doug and Melanie at Muncho Lake, where we watched two moose swim across the entire width of the lake. We could only see their heads, but even that was thrilling. A great start to the summer.

Hiking with Doug and Melanie near Muncho Lake: lots of rock scrambles but the views were worth it. This was our first clue that Yukon would be amazing.

A must-stop with D&M at Liard Hot Springs, natural and lush. I use that word “lush” several times when writing about Alaska in the summer.

Hiking at Kwänlin Dun, south of Whitehorse.

Art by the First Nations Kwänlin Dun, displayed at the cultural center in Whitehorse.

Your standard view off the side of the Alaska Highway, here in Carmacks.

Art by an indigenous sculptor at the former mining town of Faro, another unexpectedly beautiful stay in Yukon.

Hiking above Keno City, where the operator of the sole bar opened for us (he stopped shoveling gravel in the road to do so) so we could have beers with our packed lunch. Oil workers have raucous parties at that bar as evidenced by its trash bags, which all have to be driven out of town.

The incomparable Tombstone Provincial Park: I was shocked by the sky right when I first stepped out of the trailer. It’s indicative of this magical place, our favorite hiking on the whole trip.

Hiking in the tundra at Tombstone.

More hiking at Tombstone.

D&M claim that no matter the weather, it’s always sunny at 11 pm, so we went looking for moose this night in Tombstone and were happy instead to find the sun.

We survived the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City: an anticlimactic experience after a lot of hype (you drink around a human toe in your glass). More fun was riding our bikes onto the ferry that crosses the Yukon River and attending Canada Day festivities in Dawson.

Alaska in July

We spent a night on the side of the road (which was secluded and gorgeous) and crossed the border on Top of the World Highway, aptly named.

The struggle is real in Chicken, Alaska.

Musk ox being studied at the Large Animal Research Center in Fairbanks. They’re like big Guinea pigs with antlers.

Bike riding in Fairbanks among the birch.

Seeing Denali (the mountain) in Denali National Park was definately not overhyped; in fact, there’s no way to describe the sight. She is like no other mountain, and once you see her, you’re forever turning your gaze in her direction.

Hiking in Denali Park was crowded on establish trails (here), but we were able to bushwhack along moose-made trails all by ourselves in other places.

A pull-off along Denali Highway was our favorite spot to camp; we could watch the weather along the full Alaska Range, morning, noon and night.

In this one spot, we saw moose, porcupine, and wolves from our pull-off campsite.

Again, it was very hard to capture the views, this time while hiking above Eklutna Lake. Every view was overwhelming.

Summer is indeed lush in Alaska, where the days are long and the growing season is short, so everything shoots up quickly.

August in Alaska

We bicycled in Anchorage and saw more moose in people’s yards than we’d seen anywhere else.

We had to avoid wedding photo shoots at Byron Glacier near Anchorage.

A wide view of Williwaw Creek in Chugach National Forest.

A close-up view of salmon laying eggs in the same creek.

We took a day-long cruise along the shores of Kenai Fjords National Park, where I was thrilled to see orcas, puffins, and seals.

The colors of ice in glaciers at Kenai Fjords in hard to believe in person.

We were camped in a parking lot in Seward, well worth it.

It was cold and rainy at the Alaska state fair, but we found beer and music.

September in Alaska, then BC, then Alaska, then BC

After the fair, it was time to head south; the weather was super rainy on the coast, so we skipped a couple of spots on the peninsula but did get to enjoy others.

Here we’re trying not to get blown off the mountainside while hiking at Kluane National Park, with a glacier in the distance.

Watching these Dall sheep walk along a ledge at Kluane was breathtaking, a moment I’ll never forget.

Coastal Brown Bears catch salmon on the fish weir in Haines, our favorite Alaskan town.

Hiking near Haines, below one of two glaciers. You can see Tracy at right.

We chose to drive south along the Cassier Highway where we could, stopping in British Columbia at Boya Lake where we rented a canoe. The are moose tracks in the bottom of the lake.

Fall was on its way so we hightailed it through British Columbia to Alberta, and back across the US border to Montana. This was our sixth international border crossing for the summer.

We were worn out from so much fast travel, and it would take us a while to recover and fully appreciate the amazing trip this was. Now I look back in awe.

12 thoughts to “Alaska Photo Journey”

  1. I don’t have enough words to describe the beauty of these photos. Just when I thought- that’s the best one!- the one after it was even better. Truly stunning pictures of what must have been an amazing trip.
    Minus the human toe cocktail, no one needs that.

    1. What I’m bummed about is that my WordPress theme reduces the quality of the images: the views really were jaw-dropping. I think after that summer I was relieved to be able to see non-amazing things for a while.

  2. I’m super jealous of your trip! Did I ever mention that Tara and I were planning a road trip on the Alaska Highway (the Alcan, right?) to celebrate our 5th anniversary? We were setting aside money in an Alaska fund, but then we decided to move to Rapid City, and it turned into a South Dakota fund. So we figured, well, let’s do it for our 10th anniversary instead! Cue the move to Wisconsin…

    I’m beginning to think we may never make it to Alaska, lol. We’re not even mentioning our 15th anniversary because we don’t want to move again!!

    1. That’s wild! I can’t get over all your changes the last few years. For sure, take Alaska off your dream list because I know you want to stay where you are! Ha!

        1. There was a time when I used to list the crazy-ass things that went on in my life, but really that just made me look and feel insane. I started just rolling with it. I think you have that down pat.

  3. Absolutely stunning photos, you have a real talent! I have been to Alaska and seen bears but now I want to go again… weather’s not much worse than Britain (writing this on another cold and rainy Saturday morning in “spring”)

  4. Great photos Shelly. You’re really making me itch to go back and see more, do more, and even redo some of it. Thanks for taking me back there.

    1. You know my big regret is that we didn’t travel with you and with Melanie and Doug more. We’ll see each other on the road again though. Maybe not in Alaska!!