Alaska’s Panhandle, known to locals as simply “Southeast” is both remote and accessible. You can get there by cruise ship like 750,000-1,000,000 other tourists do each summer, take the Alaska Marine Highway ferries that ply the waters from Bellingham, Washington north, or fly up on Alaska Airlines.
Here’s what you’ll find at:
- Glacier Bay: Big ice, big bears, humpback whales, scads of seabirds.
- Juneau: Easy to see Mendenhall Glacier, walk on it, too.
- Ketchikan: Banana slugs, floatplane flights to Misty Fjords.
- Petersburg: A touch of Norway, off the beaten tourist path, no big cruise ships come here
- Sitka: World-class summer music festival, great raptor rehab center, big-time fishing, buildings from Russian era.
- Wrangell: The great outdoors with few tourists.
While rental cars are available for local driving, no roads connect these places; you’ll be getting around on ferries, Alaska Airline jets, or small aircraft.
The sun (when it does come out) stays high in the sky until late at night and the birds start singing in the wee hours of the morning. Pack your rain gear and fleece, but throw in a pair of shorts, too. The weather is usually on the cool and damp side, but once in a while you almost think you’re in Hawaii instead of the 49th State.