Enjoy a last blast of fun in September
You probably know people who are already looking longingly at their winter toys. They may be thinking ahead to the skiing, snowmachining and skating this winter, but before we flip the calendar and Alaska turns to a winter wonderland, get one more dose of summer. This is no time to hibernate; some of the best of Alaska is still ready to welcome you.
Alyeska may be a few months from its prime skiing, but there are still plenty of ways to get your kicks on the slopes now. The wildly popular (and lift-assisted) downhill mountain biking runs through the middle of October. If you want the Turnagain Arm views without the two-wheeled exhilaration, a spectacular ride up the tram will give you valley vistas and the chance to gander at glaciers. Or take on the North Face from the bottom up, the annual Climb-a-thon on Sept. 14 pits racers against a steep trail to see who can complete the most uphill segments. The pros can log more than 20,000 vertical feet. (alyeskaresort.com)
Few things conjure up summer in Alaska quite like sparkling glaciers and waters filled with wildlife, and there’s still time to enjoy both on a day cruise. Phillips Cruises & Tours doesn’t wrap up the season in Whittier until Sept. 30, and Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine both finish Seward and Whittier cruises later this month as well. You can still get out with operators like Lazy Otter Charters after that, so why not take advantage right now? Instant gratification can be a wonderful thing.
The Alaska Railroad offers year-round service, and its summer schedule stretches through the middle of the month. That means there is plenty of time to climb aboard. There’s a new hook to the activities out at the Spencer Glacier whistle stop if you’re headed out to hike or ice climb, there’s a kayak crossing that gets visitors to the far side of Spencer for even better access. Of course there are plenty of destinations aboard the railroad; head out to scenic Hurricane or just sit back and watch the changing colors of the Chugach roll by. (alaskarailroad.com)
If you’d rather zip through all that colorful foliage at treetop heights, check out Denali Zipline Tours in Talkeetna. Fly past braided rivers and get 360-degree Alaska vistas. The trips are up and running – weather permitting – all the way through the end of this month. (denaliziplinetours.com)
Alaska artisans don’t go into hibernation at the end of the summer, but right now you can still catch many of them in a single place; the Anchorage Market & Festival wraps up a summer season on Sept. 8. A recent stroll through the stalls revealed knives and ulus with caribou antler handles, mammoth ivory jewelry, birch syrup, berry jams, antique pocket watches, custom clothing and the works of Alaska artists too numerous to list. Savor one more salmon quesadilla, pop a handful of corn fritters or get your final funnel cake fix.
When summer is this sweet, you may as well squeeze every drop out of it before you turn your thoughts to snowy fun ahead. Take some more time to enjoy summer treats. ◆