One of the most popular excursions people take while they’re on an Alaskan vacation is a trip out to see the glaciers up close. While most people only ever see these massive ice formations from afar on cruise ships, trains or helicopters, others choose to go on hikes that allow them to get on top of the glaciers themselves.

So how should you go about preparing for your glacier tour in Alaska? Here’s some information to keep in mind as you pack your suitcase.

How to dress

No matter what time of year you visit Alaska, you’re going to want to dress in layers. In the summer the weather can be in the 70s with plenty of sun, or it can be in the 40s with rain. In the fall and spring the weather is almost unpredictable, and in the winter the extra layers will keep you warm during the long, cold, dark hours.

Here’s a list of clothing items we recommend you pack for your glacier tour excursion. There will be some variance for each person depending on their comfort level and the type of glacier tour you expect to go on, but this should give you at least something you can work off of:

  • Wool socks: Wool socks provide extra warmth, absorbency and cushion, which makes them comfortable for long walking excursions and less likely to result in you having wet feet all day if you’re trudging through rain or snow.
  • Long underwear: Cotton long underwear can help you stay warm on long hikes and sightseeing excursions.
  • Pants: Jeans are just fine for your hike, but synthetic pants will also work.
  • Shirts: Bring a few long-sleeve shirts, as well as short-sleeve or t-shirts, giving you some layer options.
  • Jacket: We recommend a sweater or a fleece jacket to act as your insulation layer. If you know you get cold easily, you might want to bring a couple.
  • Shoes: While normal tennis shoes are flexible and always welcome on any type of trip, we strongly recommend waterproof hiking boots for a glacier excursion, or for any type of long hike, really.
  • Rain gear: Lightweight rain gear is helpful if rain is in the forecast. It should be easily compactable so you can fit it in with your other gear.
  • Hat: Bring a wool or synthetic hat that covers your ears.
  • Gloves: Light cotton gloves are ideal for hiking.

Equipment

Beyond the clothes you bring, you’re going to want to have some equipment with you. Again, the equipment you need depends mostly on the type of excursion you’re taking, so keep that in mind.

  • Day pack: This pack will allow you to carry everything you need on your excursion, and should be capable of keeping these items dry.
  • Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses are ideal.
  • Binoculars: The Alaskan wilderness is vast and expansive, and a pair of binoculars will help you take in all the sights.
  • Toiletries: Any personal toiletries you may want to bring for particularly long hikes or overnights are a good idea.
  • Medications: Any medications you need or depend on should be in your pack.
  • Snacks: Trail snacks are helpful to keep you going as the day drags on.
  • Other: Phone, camera, batteries, journals, pens, etc.

For more information about preparing for your glacier tour in Alaska, contact Alaska Wild Guides today.

The majority of people who come to Alaska as tourists do so in the summer, when the weather is milder and when the sun stays up in the sky for most hours of the day. However, summer certainly isn’t your only option as a tourist—there are plenty of reasons to visit at other times of the year, including the fall. So if you’re looking to make a last-minute getaway, book a trip up to Alaska and you certainly won’t regret it!

Here are just a few reasons why many people book guided tours in Alaska in the autumn months.

Cheaper Rates

Because most of the tourists are gone by the time the calendar passes Labor Day, there’s significantly less demand for tourism activities in the state, which means a higher supply and lower prices as a result. This is true all across the state, from major cities like Anchorage to more remote spots like McCarthy and Nome. You’ll find cheaper hotel rates in particular, some of which can be up to $100 less per night in October than they were just a couple months earlier (especially for fancier places to stay, like Anchorage’s Hotel Captain Cook).

Interact With More Locals

A lot of the locals go into hiding during some of the more tourist-heavy months, so they’re more likely to go on road trips of their own during the fall after the crowds disappear and the prices go down. In addition, the seasonal workers who are still there for a few weeks after their summer tourism jobs end will do some traveling of their own before they head back to their permanent homes in the lower 48. Therefore, you’re much more likely to encounter locals on your excursions, which provides a really unique vibe that feels like more of an authentic Alaskan experience.

You Can See The Northern Lights

There’s no chance of seeing the northern lights during the summer, because of how much sunlight there is. But as the fall stretches on and darkness becomes more omnipresent, you have a much better chance of seeing the northern lights, as well as some beautiful starry skies that are not affected by nearly as much light pollution as you’d get in the lower 48. The absolute best displays of the northern lights usually occur in midwinter, but you can still get a peek at them in the fall.

Beautiful Weather and Scenery

Fall provides some unique weather and scenery opportunities for visitors to Alaska. While it doesn’t usually snow at lower elevations, it does snow overnight on mountains and larger hills, which makes for some beautiful scenery. And in Alaska, the changing colors of fall aren’t just limited to trees, either—the open tundra of mosses, berry patches and foliage can flash vivid autumn colors that will take your breath away.

Want more reasons why you should book your guided tour in Alaska during the fall? Contact Alaska Wild Guides for more information and to learn about the tours we offer!

Have you seen those “Advice from a …” poems? Well it would appear that Mother Nature is full of witty lessons and reminders, which many creative people have captured and shared by means of poetry. So when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t help but partake in the fun and come up with a little advice from a seagull that I observed one day on Prince William Sound.

 

Advice from a Sea Gull

 

Play no matter the weather

Know no bounds

Have fun wherever you go

Reach far and wide

However,

Pace yourself

Remember your limits

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Advice From a Sea Gull

 

Now here’s the back-story on this particular advice.

It was early May in Prince William Sound just outside of Whittier. The weather was in the low forties with a 10-knot wind and rain that was coming in sheets. Born and raised in Alaska and knowing that you can’t wait for perfect weather to enjoy an adventure, we found ourselves cruising along on our personal watercraft headed to Harriman Fjord about 45 miles outside of Whittier. The day’s conditions were perfect for seeking the limits on our new SEADOO GTI SE 130s.

We were only about a mile out of the harbor when the lead boat came to a slow stop. There in the water was a gull, which isn’t uncommon to see on the ocean but what was strange about this was that it was face down and not moving. In other words, it was dead. This is not a common scene! So, we moved in closer to investigate and upon further inspection we saw that there was something protruding from the bird’s mouth. Derek, being brave, picked up the gull for a closer look only to see that it was a fish tail hanging out of the bird’s mouth. We all circled around and were somewhat flabbergasted to see such a thing. It would appear that the gull picked up a fish from the waters and proceeded to swallow it only to find out that this particular dinner was more than the bird could handle, causing it to suffocate and fall to its death. One of the first things that went through my mind was the good old expression “don’t bite off more than you can chew”.

Over the next several weeks, I found myself thinking about this poor bird and what lesson Mother Nature presented to us on that blustery spring day. It’s easy to let life get out of control whether it be work, family, school, volunteering or any number of obligations that can keep us so busy in today’s demanding world.

I can go on and on about how so many of us find ourselves overwhelmed with all the demands in life but I’m no good at that self help stuff. Instead I’m going to tell you to make sure to get out and have a little adventure now and again because building memories is always fun!