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8 Reasons to Visit Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area by Robert Manning When President Ronald Reagan dedicated America’s first National Heritage Area in 1984, he announced that this and other NHAs to come would be “a new kind of national park.” The purpose: to preserve areas of the United States that reflect distinctive regions’ sense of place, including natural and cultural history, and offer outstanding visitor attractions, recreation, and educational opportunities. Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (Kenai Mountains) is the only national heritage area in Alaska, established in 2009, and is located on the Kenai Peninsula. Extending 150 miles, the peninsula is bordered on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. While national parks are generally large areas of public lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are a mix of public and private lands, run by partnerships that usually…

Follow Alaska’s fall colors south to Lost Lake

[by Mollie Foster]


As spectacular as they are, it’s surprisingly easy to miss fall colors in Alaska. Once the leaves start changing hues, they only stay on the trees for two to three weeks, with peak foliage lasting only 48 hours in some areas.

Calling all wildlife weekend warriors IF YOU WANT TO GET A QUINTESSENTIAL TASTE OF ALASKA, and you want to check a few items off your bucket list in a single weekend, point your car down the Seward Highway, a nationally designated scenic byway, and get your camera ready. The 127-mile trip from Anchorage to Seward can take over two hours (or four hours by train), but trust us, you’re going to want to stop along the way for the massive views, flora, fauna, glaciers, and waterfalls. That said, the drive is a mere appetizer plate for the main course of Seward. The first whets your appetite; the second sates you. POTTER MARSH Just as you’re leaving Anchorage (mile 117.4), park and explore the boardwalk over wetlands of Potter Marsh, a birder paradise that’s also rife with spawning salmon and marauding moose. Wooden paths stretch 1,550 feet along sedges and sloughs,…

As we head into the new year, we asked you, our readers, about your favorite destinations in Alaska. No need to turn to Yelp or Travelocity for reviews—our Facebook poll reached more than 104,000 loyal Alaska magazine followers. We received a few hundred photos featuring everything from the northern lights to bears fishing in Katmai. The results? See below and start planning your vacation to one of these spectacular locations. Hatcher Pass / Hatcher Pass Management Area Hatcher Pass edged out Seward as the number one destination in 2015. Readers wowed us with photos of the Little Susitna River and wintery trails leading to Reed lakes. One Facebook follower said, “Archangel Valley. Can’t beat it!” The area encompasses 300,000 acres, and its proximity to Anchorage (it’s a three-hour round- trip drive) means easy access to recreation in the picturesque Talkeetna Mountains. Waterfalls, glacier-fed rivers and lakes, tundra and wildflowers, along…

7 tips for sea kayaking like a pro

[by Deborah Kearns]

I ’VE NEVER CONSIDERED MYSELF TO BE MUCH OF AN ADVENTURE JUNKIE. I’m also not terribly athletic so when I travel, I tend to play it safe on excursions. But our first trip to Alaska last September was a time for self-discovery—and for testing my limits. Sea kayaking on pristine blue-green glacial water surrounded by Alaska’s raw beauty instantly appealed to me.