Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in Alaska We Love

Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in Alaska We Love

is a destination that really puts so-called outdoorsy
types’ proclamations to the test. You want mountains? Alaska’s
peaks make Kilimanjaro look like the Surrey Hills. Lakes? Good luck
circumnavigating them (they’re huge). Woodland? Sorry, can’t hear
you – there’s a dense thicket of prehistoric forestry in the way.
Yes, think “natural wilderness” and you almost certainly picture
Alaska. Where better then, after months of TikTok marathons, banana
bread binges and tepid home-development projects, to really get
outdoors? Once it’s safe to do so, we’re heading north –
specifically to one of these five rugged yet charming Alaskan

Dive into nature post-lockdown by booking one of these Alaskan


Why we can’t wait to visit again: Well, we’re
not visiting Fairbanks itself. We’ll touch down at the local
airport and then bundle into a taxi headed for Borealis Basecamp, a
cluster of glass-ceilinged domes shrouded in a maribou boa of
feathery mountain pines. After days spent kicking up powder on
snowmobiles, put a couple of bottles on ice and settle in for cosy
nights under the stars. Last time we were here, the Northern Lights
made an appearance.

Where we’re staying:
Borealis Basecamp

Before you go: Read
True North: Contemporary Art of the Circumpolar North
by Julie
Decker. It paints a picture of northern identity by considering the
works of artists from Alaska, Russia, Canada and Scandinavia.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Why we can’t wait to visit again: Just look at
that vista. To put it into numbers, that’s 25,000sq km of parkland,
sugar-capped mountains – 6km-high Mount McKinley being America’s
tallest peak, by the way – and (not pictured) approximately 1,800
moose. We’re gutsy but sensible, so we’ll conscript the help of a
mountain ranger to keep us on track as we zig-zag across the park,
hiking poles in hand.

Where we’re staying:
Grande Denali Lodge

Before you go: Read
Yuungnaqpiallerput/ The Way We Genuinely Live: Masterworks of
Yup’ik Science and Survival
to see how Alaska’s native people
survived such harsh conditions.

Wrangell Mountains

Why we can’t wait to visit again: There’s no
point scanning your finger over a map: if you’re looking for The
Middle of Nowhere, this is it. Ultima Thule Lodge is 100 miles from
any paved path and so remote that even the surrounding mountains
have yet to be named. When we’re not revelling in all the glorious
nothingness – tuning in and out to the soundtrack of wind-whipped
long grass and trickling glacial river water – we’ll be literally
dipping into some of Alaska’s most remote crevices on board the
lodge’s tiny propellor-powered plane.

Where we’re staying: Ultima Thule Lodge

Before you go: Push your musical boundaries by
this record
of Indigenous circumpolar Hip-Hop to your


Why we can’t wait to visit again: Homer’s the
place for those who like their nature breaks served with city
comforts. We’ll catch a water taxi across the bay to Seldovia,
Halibut Cove or Kachemak Bay State Park – unofficial rehabilitation
centre of the stir-crazy, where kayaks or bicycles can be hired for
a small fee, so you can get deep into Alaska’s unspoiled
wilderness. As the sun sinks into the gaping mountains, we’ll spend
our evenings stopping in at the galleries and boutiques staggered
along the Homer Spit back in town.

Where we’re staying: Baycrest Lodge

Before you go: Keep tabs on Bunnell Street
Arts Center
. It’s an unassuming not-for-profit gallery tucked
in a residential building just of Bunnell Avenue.

Humpy Cove

Why we can’t wait to visit again: The name
alone makes us giddy. There’s not much by way of civilisation at
this sandy cove on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, though the dystopian,
steely vestiges of Resurrection Bay’s WWII defences are worth
checking out. Thankfully, we’ve checked in to one of the yurts at
Orca Island Cabins, so days will be spent kayaking, hiking and
keeping a lookout for whales from our private deck.

Where we’re staying: Orca
Island Cabins

Before you go: Read
Moments Rightly Placed: An Aleutian Memoir
by Ray Hudson – a
fascinating first-hand account of life in an Aleut society, written
by an outsider.

The Lowdown

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