The stunning beauty of Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest
While the Alaskan Gold Rush may be long over, there’s a personal rush out there for you right now – the exhilaration that comes from breathtaking scenery, traditional cultures, and spectacular wildlife.
To make the most of Southeast Alaska’s wildlife and nature, you just have to get out there in it. And one really fine way is onboard a well-catered yacht in the company of family, close friends or a handful of like-minded travelers all bent on seeing what’s out there.
With no timetable, you follow the sun and the wind, poke into coves, deep bays, and have the freedom to linger with a pods of bubble-netting whales.
Just picture yourself in the early morning light, kayaking silently shoreward, breaking through inverted images of snowcapped peaks, to have a private, up close look at a grizzly mom with cubs as they forage for berries at edge of the forest. You breath in the clean air, hear the birds gossiping, and raise your camera to capture the bears, when an eagle it swoops down, snatches an unwary fish, and lugs it nest ward to demanding eaglets vibrating in a tall cedar – two money shots before breakfast.
Back on board, the mood is upbeat, expectant. You savor fresh coffee, cereal, fresh fruit, bacon, French toast, strawberries and cream – the early paddle revved up your appetite. Without warning the naturalist appears, pulls you out of your reverie with a boundless list of “stuff you can do” today. Now you have to decide - hike among the cedars and spruce where the bears dwell, see bear scat, claw marks on the trees, compare the size of your hand to a bear’s track. Or is the nature walk with the wildflower expert, curiously poking around tide pools, a better fit for me at the moment.
Or a little fishing, Salmon or Halibut? Fly-casting for river trout? Never done these before? Not to worry, your guides are specialists and are happy to share their knowledge and skills. Fly fishermen go with Fred and his box of secret flies, spin casters follow Jed. Or salmon trolling, it’s Helene, and to jig for halibut, Olaf is the man. Your tension abates, you pick one and your morning is set. Rain gear, life vest, day pack with camera and snacks, put on the rubber boots, hop into the skiff, cruise off with the guide. This is fun. You’re practically alone, how could one even think about being out here with thousands babbling on a cruise ship
Lunch, it will not disappoint - fresh Dungeness crab or succulent shrimp, chilled wine - special diets always accommodated. At dessert, the list of options is again trotted out – you pick, then head out to hike along Sitka spruce forest trails to view ferns, berries, flowers, and bear footprints. Or beachcomb or investigate tide pools. Or fish…only you have decided which it will be. From the forest, bald eagles fill the air with their plaintive cries.
On board for sundowners, the boat often moves. The captain will signal whenever whales, orcas and bears are nearby and the boat will linger, time doesn’t matter, this is why you are here. As it stays light until 10:30 or later, the golden light seems to last and last, the photographers dream.
You dine, perhaps on fresh salmon or halibut just caught by you, surrounded by the views of nature at its finest, while the sun slowly turn snow-capped peaks from gold to purple – fine wine makes everyone’s stories spell-binding. You’ll have your own to add.
Making it happen – it’s easy - you can join a group or arrange your own private adventure. Our The Wild North, an 8-day adventure between Sitka and Juneau or in reverse, is often sold out a year in advance—early booking is essential. If you, friends, and family want privacy, take a peek at several yachts we know and love. Keep in mind that the season is short, best from May to early September.
We love Southeast Alaska, we want to share it with you. Get in touch