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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,…

Two hundred years ago, ice covered most of Kenai Fjords National Park. Today, lush temperate rainforests emerge and along with them a habitat rife with black and brown bears, wolverines, moose, mountain goats, marmots, beavers, and snowshoe hares. Of course, the fjords remain rich with bird and marine life: tufted and horned puffins, oystercatchers, bald eagles, orcas, humpback and gray whales, porpoises, sea otters, and Steller sea lions. Tours heading through Kenai Fjords deliver those sightings and more, including calving glaciers cracking with white thunder, a lasting reminder that the only thing constant in this national park is change. Kenai Fjords was designated a national park in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The park encompasses 669,983 acres and provides habitat for several threatened or endangered species including humpback, sei, and gray whales, as well as Steller sea lions. Steller sea lion populations are monitored from the Alaska…

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…