I’ve lived in Seattle for over 20 years and have never been to Alaska. In fact, hardly anyone I know has been to Alaska even though they’ve lived here for their whole lives. It’s always seemed so far away for some reason. When my friend Valerie invited me to join her on a trip exploring the wilderness of southeast Alaska, the adventurer in me instantly said yes!
The first shocker was that it only took 2 hours to fly from Seattle to Ketchikan. I was kicking myself for not going there sooner! This state that was “so far away” in my mind was extremely accessible. From Ketchikan, we slowly made our way up to Juneau, exploring Alaska’s Inner Passage.
The Pacific Northwest has some beautiful places to explore, but the scale compared to Alaska is tiny. The mountains went so high into the sky we couldn’t see them on foggy days, and they seemed to just drop into the ocean.
Our trip was with UnCruise Adventures, who focused on all the outdoor activities you could do in Southeast Alaska. They highly encourage you to get off the boat and participate in as many activities as you have the energy for. The area we were in was so massive we could have spent months there exploring. Here’s a glimpse of some of the beautiful places we visited in Southeast Alaska.
I’m convinced there’s no better place to completely detach from the world than Alaska. I had no cell service for most of the trip, and the familiar feeling of anxiety that I experienced in Cuba started to come back. I had to tell myself to calm down and completely enjoy nature, and that’s exactly what I did. How can you be anything but relaxed with amazing views like this?
Misty Fjords was a great place to start our trip, as it’s filled with hundreds and hundreds of small inlets to explore. We spent the first few days kayaking around the still water and even had some seals that were following us. It was so quiet when we were out that I felt like I should whisper. It really felt like we discovered some hidden spot no one else knew about.
On the way to our next location, we had plenty of porpoises following us. The ship had a camera on the bow so we could see them joyfully swimming with us under the water. Once we got to the bay, we went out on a skiff tour during the morning to explore the shoreline in the bay. We ate rockweed off the rocks in the bay, which surprisingly tasted decent. It was a fun way to see the area and learn about what I was looking at.
In the afternoon, we went for a hike in the wilderness. I’ve never done such a remote hike before – we were dropped off by boat and then started up the hill into the forest. I had some fear about seeing a bear, but they told us what to do if we did and luckily we didn’t have to use those techniques.
After being on a boat for three days and not seeing anyone, we finally stopped in the town of Wrangell. It felt strange to be around other people again and go into stores, but I found the small town charming. We stopped at Petroglyph Beach first to see if we could find rocks carved with petroglyphs from thousands of years ago.
After that, we grabbed coffee and explored the stores in the town. We also went to Chief Shakes’ House, where we learned about the history of the native tribes in the area. I loved hearing stories and watching some of the local tribe members perform song and dance in their traditional costumes.
Thomas Bay and Scenery Cove
After leaving Wrangell, we went through a very small channel of water, the Wrangell Narrows, to head to the next location. We had a beautiful sunset for this, and I loved looking at some of the houses that were right on the water.
In the morning, we woke up to the beautiful view of Scenery Cove. I went on a quick hike on the morning and again enjoyed the solitude of being in that remote of a location.
After lunch, we went to see Baird Glacier. We took a skiff boat to the shore and had to walk over hundreds of huge rocks to get to the glacier. It was surreal to see huge chunks of the glacier that had broken off and were just floating in the water. Even though the glacier seemed huge, we were told it has massively receded over the years as it’s started to melt.
Frederick Sound and Robert & Crow Islands
One of the things our boat was great about doing was constantly being on the look out for whales. When they were spotted, we would take a slight detour to go see them (and believe me, nobody had any objections to that!). We saw several humpback whales, including a calf with their mother. It was so cute watching them mimic the movements their mother was doing.
After lunch, we had the chance to go kayaking around the Robert and Crow Islands. Again, it was a very peaceful experience with no other people or boats around.
Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier
I was beginning to get sad on the last full day that it was almost time to go back, but they saved the best for last. We anchored in Endicott Arm to explore another stunning glacier. It was raining and cold as we got into the skiff boats to head out to the glacier, but everyone was so excited that the weather was a minimal concern.
The area was full of icebergs, so we had to slowly navigate our way through the water. Along the way, we saw several waterfalls, with the tops being concealed by the fog from the morning. We finally made it as close as we could to the glacier, which was the bluest I’d ever seen. As we were leaving, we even saw a few chunks of ice fall off into the ocean with a boom.
I’ve only seen a very small part of Alaska, but it only fuels my desire to go back again and explore more!
Looking for more travel tips?
Sign up for my weekly newsletter to get travel tips, plus enter to win travel contests!