Top Alaska guides know exactly where and when to take you for the best sights and adventures. This seven-day itinerary sends you on many of Southeast Alaska’s best guided adventures, including bear-viewing and dog-sledding on a glacier.
Day 1 Ketchikan
Arrive in Alaska’s “First City” by commercial jet, Alaska Marine Highway ferry, or cruise line. For a firsthand experience of Alaska Native culture, take a city tour that includes either Saxman Native Village or Totem Bight State Historical Park; you’ll see traditional totem poles standing tall in both places, but Saxman is the destination of choice if you want to see artisans at work. In the afternoon,take a boat or flightseeing tour to Misty Fjords National Monument, where you’ll be surrounded by some of Alaska’s finest wild scenery and glacier-carved fjords.
Day 2 Wrangell
Take the morning flight from Ketchikan to Wrangell or, if the schedules line up, get up early and take the six-hour ferry ride to Wrangell. (Note: Be sure to check the Alaska Marine Highway ferry schedule prior to departure and book your tickets in advance.) Once in town, board a jet boat for a short, fast ride to the Anan Creek Wildlife Observatory. Anan Creek hosts one of the largest pink salmon runs in the state, drawing numerous black bears and sometimes brown bears to feed on the bounty of fish. Once you return to Wrangell, take a city tour that includes a visit to the restored Chief Shakes Tribal House. If the ferry schedules line up, board a ferry tonight for an overnight, 12-hour trip to Juneau. Otherwise, spend the night in Wrangell and take a commercial flight to Juneau in the morning.
Day 3 Juneau
Once you arrive in Juneau, take a guided tour that includes the highlights of the city and a stop at the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier, where you can take a guided trek to the glacier’s ice caves (they aren’t safe to wander on your own). Once back in town, you’ll have just enough time for a guided zip-lining tour that sends you soaring through the giant trees of the Tongass National Forest.
Day 4 Juneau
Start the day with a short helicopter trip to a nearby glacier, where you’ll enjoy the thrill of dog mushing on snow, even in the middle of the Alaska summer. Once back in town, enjoy lunch and a few hours of browsing Juneau’s excellent downtown shops before you hop a small plane, fast ferry or seasonal jet to Gustavus, the small community that serves as the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. Stay overnight at a rustic lodge or local B&B.
Day 5 Glacier Bay National Park
Embark on a full-day narrated cruise into the world-famous, 3.3-million-acre Glacier Bay National Park. This place is a wildlife-watcher’s dream come true: Watch for bears on shore, and humpback whales, orcas, seals, sea lions and numerous waterfowl in the water. The breathtaking scenery and spectacular glaciers will make this a day to remember. After the cruise, board a small commuter plane for Skagway. If you arrive in time, make sure you catch the town’s hilarious dinner theater show about the days of the Klondike Golf Rush.
Day 6 Skagway
Historic wooden storefronts are perfectly preserved in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, also known as Skagway’s downtown area, a testimony to the tens of thousands of gold-seekers who braved the Chilkoot and White Pass trails in 1898. A visit to Skagway would not be complete without taking the tour on the town’s historic, narrow-gauge railroad. Relive the adventure of ascending to the pass, much as the gold seekers did, from the comfort of your seat on the train. After returning from the roundtrip ride you’ll board a commuter flight to Juneau, then take the evening commercial flight to Sitka.
Day 7 Sitka
In Sitka, take a guided city tour that includes a visit to 113-acre Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska’s oldest federally designated park, which was established in 1910 to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka. All that remains of this last major conflict between Russian occupiers and the Tlingit people is the site of the Tlingit fort and the battlefields. You can also visit the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, where you can watch and converse with master artisans as they demonstrate carving and other traditional arts. Watch for a performance by the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Dancers and/or the Russian New Archangel Dancers before you depart back to Juneau or home.