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Jerry Pillarelli | profile | all galleries >> Travel and Nature >> US Travel >> Alaska National Parks Trip - Summer 2015 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Alaska National Parks Trip - Summer 2015

Images of my trip through Alaska from June 21 to July 21, 2015.

One-fifth the size of the lower 48 states, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined yet its population is just under 750,000 with Anchorage, the largest city, having approximately 291,000 residents.

My trip through this great Alaskan wilderness spanned 30 days and included visits to all 8 of its National Parks (Glacier Bay, Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Denali, Kenai Fjords, Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark and Katmai).

I crisscrossed the state starting in the capital city of Juneau and my travels then took me immediately above the Arctic Circle where I visited two of the remotest parks in the National Parks system including Kobuk Valley which gets less than 1000 visitors each year. I also experienced 24 hours of continuous sunlight in this region and mosquitos that could cover you like a blanket if you didn’t keep moving! Travel throughout the state was interesting because five of the eight parks have no roads into them, so I was forced to make other arrangements to include many small bush planes, floatplanes and boats both large and small. During my 30 days in Alaska I actually flew on no less than 36 plane flights, many times sitting in the copilot seat as I was the only passenger on board.

My adventures included running into a black bear and her cubs on a wilderness hike in Kobuk Valley (she was not happy to see me or my guide); I ran into actor Ricky Schroder (sitcom Silver Spoons as a child and movies like The Champ and Crimson Tide) waiting for a plane out of Fairbanks; in Gates of the Arctic I was grounded for a day because of smoke from a nearby forest fire and was also locked up in the back of a police SUV in Anaktuvuk Pass (you’ll have to stay tuned to hear that story); I experienced twin earthquakes (4.9 and 5.1 on the Richter Scale) in Talkeetna while waiting for a plane to take me out for a landing on the flank of Mount McKinley; witnessed a pod of humpback whales bubble-net feeding in Kenai Fjords, which felt like something straight out of a National Geographic special; hiked a glacier in the largest park in the National Park system, Wrangell-St. Elias; flew through a mountain snow storm in July over Lake Clark National Park; and finally before my flight out of Katmai, my last national park on the last full day of my trip, experienced a flight delay because there was a bear walking on the beach in front of my floatplane…ya just can’t make this stuff up!
Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier - Alaska
Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier - Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park – Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park – Alaska
Kobuk Valley National Park – Alaska
Kobuk Valley National Park – Alaska
Gates of the Arctic National Park – Alaska
Gates of the Arctic National Park – Alaska
Denali National Park – Alaska
Denali National Park – Alaska
Driving Tour – Alaska
Driving Tour – Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska
Wrangell-St Elias National Park – Alaska
Wrangell-St Elias National Park – Alaska
Lake Clark National Park – Alaska
Lake Clark National Park – Alaska
Katmai National Park – Alaska
Katmai National Park – Alaska
Miscellaneous Alaska – Alaska
Miscellaneous Alaska – Alaska
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Ski Planes, Busses, Ferryboats, Floatplanes and the back of a Police SUV  – Alaska
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Ski Planes, Busses, Ferryboats, Floatplanes and the back of a Police SUV – Alaska