Day 1 of our Alaskan Highlights Tour
After 2 underwhelming days spent in Anchorage, the day we had been waiting for had arrived – the start of our 10-day Grand American Adventures Alaskan Highlights tour.
Having got the introductions and paperwork out of the way at a welcome meeting the previous evening, it was straight to loading up the trailer with our luggage, hopping on and setting off. The tour was off to a precarious start when moments after leaving the hotel, a huge moose leapt out in front of us just as we had started picking up speed down a main road. Luckily, there was nothing in the lane next to us and we managed to swerve to avoid hitting it. Danger over, we were relieved and excited to have had our first Alaska wildlife spot!
Our guide explained to us that she had a tour ‘morning song’ – a song she played as the first song of the day on the bus each morning and which we’d all get to know and be able to sing along to by the end of the tour. The song was I Got a Name by Joe Croce. It wasn’t a song I was already familiar with but by the end of the tour, we did indeed all know and love it.
Our first stop of the day was at Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk just outside of Anchorage. We wandered the board walks and were rewarded as we looked out over the marsh with another moose appearance!
Back on the bus, we continued to Alyeska Mountain where we had the option of riding the aerial tramway to the top of the mountain. Never ones to turn down the opportunity to take a gondola ride, we got our tickets along with a few other members of our tour group and soon we were at the top taking in the beautiful views of the mountains and glaciers.
We next stopped at a section of the Byron Glacier Trail in the National Forest. We followed the short section of the trail down to the glacier viewing area then returned to the bus to continue on to Seward arriving early afternoon.
Dropping us off in downtown Seward, we visited a cafe for lunch before going to check in at the motel we’d be staying in for the next 2 nights.
While in Seward, we would mainly be exploring Kenai Fjords National Park and this afternoon we would be heading to the Exit Glacier part of the park.
We were dropped off at the Exit Glacier Visitor Center where most of us decided to take the guided ranger tour to the glacier. After taking a walk in the park ourselves while waiting for the guided walk to start, we made our way back to the visitor centre meeting point. It was quite an easy hike to the glacier with plenty of stops as the ranger talked to us about the park and explained how quickly the glacier is receding.
After our hike, we all boarded our tour bus again to be dropped back in Seward where we had a group meal after which a few of us decided to head to one of the local bars, the Yukon Bar, where it was open mic night then after a few drinks, we walked back to our motel.
Day 2 in Seward we were taking an included full day cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park. After grabbing breakfast at a cafe in town, we met with the rest of the group at the marina, spotting an adorable sea otter playing in the bay as we waited. Our cruise was lead by a National Park Ranger who pointed out where to look to spot wildlife in the area – and there was certainly plenty of it to spot! We saw seals, puffins, bald eagles and goats on the cliffs we sailed past and eventually, our patience paid off when we saw a whale swimming ahead.
During the cruise, the park ranger announced that they were running an Explorer Ranger programme on board, jokingly suggesting that adults could get involved as well as children. So, of course, we requested booklets and completed them to earn our Explorer Ranger badges by the end of the cruise.
Once back on dry land, the evening was ours to spend as we wished. We decided to walk in the opposite direction from the town where we found Seward Lagoon. After having a quick walk along the boardwalk, we went for dinner at Red’s Burgers where you get to eat your food sat on an old converted school bus!
After dinner, we walked back into town taking more pictures around the seafront then returned to the Yukon Bar for drinks at the end of the evening.
It had been a great start to the tour. Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park had been really fun places to explore and now, we were excited to head to Valdez for the next part of our tour!
Watch my vlog of my journey to Seward and visit to Exit Glacier here:
and my vlog of my Kenai Fjords cruise here: