Hiking in Alaska
Debbie Sturdivant Jordan

Alaska by Land or by Sea?

Alaska by Land or by Sea?

Jan 12, 2018|Where we travel| by Molly O'Brien
5 Reasons Why Alaska Overland Makes All the Difference

Alaska conjures up images of towering grizzly bears, snow-cut glaciers and soaring bald eagles. While Alaskan cruises have become one of the most popular ways to visit this majestic state, you could miss out on a more in-depth authentic experience by overlooking land options. With a well-planned land journey, you can encounter genuine cultural interaction and the untouched wilderness found only in America’s "Last Frontier."

 Photo by Jerry Goffe, NaturePhotoWorks.com

1. See the real Alaska
Cruise ships provide for easy viewing and plentiful dining, but they do not take you to remote areas. Each summer hundreds of ships ply the same waters and visit the same ports, making for a cookie cutter experience. Rather, a well-designed land journey can take you to non-touristy towns and stunning national parks, with a greater chance to see wildlife. Ports like Cordova and towns like Talkeetna are small communities that show how people live and work year round.

 Photo by Debbie Sturdivant Jordan

2. Enjoy small-group camaraderie
One of the many bonus benefits of travel is finding genuine connection and lasting friendships with other members of your group. Mainstream cruise ships accommodate upwards of 4,000 passengers—not the ideal environment for facilitating companionship or closeness among travelers. Land-based programs allow you to share proximity, experiences and lifelong memories with fellow adventurers.

3. Wildlife: Close encounters
Alaska is the largest, yet least developed and least densely populated state, and for that reason it has remained a haven for the some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife. Whether you’re on a birding, photography, or natural history trip, land programs offer substantial opportunities to see Alaskan wildlife up-close. The combination of pristine territory and climate conditions make Alaska the preferred habitat for a variety of mammals, including the caribou, sea otter, moose, walrus, lynx, wolverine, and four types of bears (Kodiak, polar, black, and the coveted grizzly), as well as many species of migratory whales. Explore the inlands of Alaska on hikes with naturalist guides who “use their experience to avoid disturbing wildlife, keep guests safe, and help them gain a better understanding of Alaska,” says Alaskan native and guide, Howard Carbone.

 Photo by Jason and Kris Carter

4. Opportunity for adventure
If you wish to participate in adventure activities, a land-based program is the way to go. It allows for more time to spend on expeditions (rather than transferring to and from the ship each day) as well as greater access to inland parks—highlights include: Childs Glacier, the Copper River Delta, kayaking the Orca Inlet, hiking in Denali State Park and photography almost anywhere.

 Orca Adventure Lodge

5. Stay in Alaska-style lodges in natural settings
One of the best ways to experience Alaska in its entirety and get the most out of your trip is to be immersed for the duration of the program. While cruises cover a lot of area quickly, they provide a broad overview, rather than cultural enrichment and in-depth history that come from actually staying inland. Going to bed and waking up each morning with the wilderness just footsteps away is one of the benefits of staying in Alaska style-lodges and cabins. Rustic architecture meets modern-day amenities at one of our favorites, The Orca Adventure Lodge, to provide your group the best from both worlds.