Zip lining Alaska - thrills among the treetops
Over the past several years, a new type of tour has taken Alaska visitors through the treetops and over rivers and streams to give them a bird’s eye view of the landscape while teaching them about the forests and natural habitats in different parts of the state.
Zip lines seemingly become more popular every year, and now zip line tours through the forest canopy are available in at least eight Alaska communities. In a state as big as Alaska, each will offer a different perspective and a different experience – not to mention a vastly different landscape.
Zip lines first appeared among tour offerings in cruise-port communities in the Inside Passage region nearly a decade ago. Here, zip lines traverse the heavily wooded temperate rainforest that dominates the region, much of which is part of the Tongass National Forest – the largest national forest in the country. Typically, guests are transported from the cruise dock or other central location to a forest site where platforms are built into the trees. Steel cables connect platforms, and guests whizz from platform to platform. Most include some information on local history, the ecology of the forest, and even the opportunity to spot wildlife on the forest floor below. In each Inside Passage community with a zip line, visitors will encounter different scenery and natural features. Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway each have zip line experiences similar to the one described above, while Hoonah’s private cruise ship destination, Icy Strait Point, takes zip lining to a whole different level – literally.
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Tips from an Alaskan
Juneau artist Bill Spear’s work is recognizable far beyond the state’s capital city. With a workshop and gallery tucked above busy Franklin Street in downtown Juneau, Spear designs beautiful enameled pins, zipper pulls and other enamel items. His work has been displayed in the Guggenheim Museum, and organizations ranging from the local public radio station to The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society have commissioned custom work. Read on to learn about Bill’s favorite things to do in Juneau.
Anchorage to Talkeetna by rail
Start today with a heart-thumping hike along Alaska’s most popular and well-known trail – Flattop Mountain Trail. The short 1.5-mile trail climbs 1,280 feet from the Glen Alps parking area in Chugach State Park to the top of Flattop Mountain. From there, a panoramic view of Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and the city of Anchorage lies below.
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