The non-profit Alaska Native Heritage Center honors the diverse indigenous peoples of our 49th state by chronicling Native cultures, languages, and traditions and instilling pride in Native communities. Alongside a serene lake, a wooded path winds through six life-size dwellings in the center's outdoor facilities. These re-creations of ancient homes showcase Alaska's 11 cultural groups, and at each site, cultural representatives perform Native dances, demonstrate games and art, and tell stories about life in the past. The Alaska Native Heritage Center utilizes education and celebration to spread knowledge of Alaska's unique Native cultures across the globe, while also preserving and perpetuating indigenous traditions. Inside the museum, a collection of tools, artwork, and drums provides a tangible representation of contemporary Native people’s lives. The museum covers all native cultures in exhibits such as the Inupiaq exhibit and the Athabascan exhibit, which features a hand-woven birch-bark basket and moccasins made of moose hide and beads. To supplement the interactive displays, the Heritage Center conducts cultural outreach through a variety of programs, including the Walking in Two Worlds program, which connects 6th- through 8th-grade students with their cultural roots. The Alaska Native Playwrights Project helps Native people to find an outlet for their stories through theatrical productions and eloquent playbills.:
Licensed by the United States Coast Guard, the captains at Stories and Legends ferry spectators over the sea and amid pods of cetaceans during guided whale-watching tours. When the season begins in late February, shuttles bring explorers from airports, hotels, or cruise ships to Auke Bay, where boats carrying up to 24 passengers depart at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. If they wish, guests may provide their own transportation to the dock via car, bike, or land whale.
What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
As the sun crests the mountains that border the Kenai River Valley, sunlight permeates the thin walls of lodge sales manager Chad Carter’s Yukon-style cabin tent, and the surrounding pine forest erupts in a chorus of birdsong. As if that weren’t enough to rouse Mr. Carter from slumber, there’s also the prospect of what he may spy when he looks out his window: a lone moose or perhaps bear cubs.
Mr. Carter, along with the rest of the Alaska Wildland Adventures staff, remain immersed in the Alaskan wilderness for the summer season, which has helped them develop an extensive knowledge of region. But even more significantly, Mr. Carter notes how the secluded environs have helped forge bonds between staff, who enjoy a close-knit community during summer months. “They become your family,” says Mr. Carter. “You go on adventures together—it’s definitely a teamwork approach here.” Guides strive to incorporate guests into that community, limiting expeditions by foot, raft, and kayak to small groups of 10 people. They also empower guests with the tools they need to navigate the region, including maps and safety tutorials. And, after a long day’s journey, they treat overnight guests to communal, home-cooked meals of Alaskan seafood.
A soldier hears a rustling in the distant trees. He turns his head expecting to exchange glances with a family of squirrels or maybe a bear. Then, he hears a quick burst of air, shifts his gaze downward, and finds a splatter of blue paint on his T-shirt. Ambushes by paint-slinging sharpshooters occur regularly at Wasilla SplatterHouse Paintball, where groups gather to stage colorful tactical operations on a woodsy landscape dotted with plentiful obstacles and hiding places. While ducking under paintball fire, players crawl through cement tubes and crouch behind walls to plot their next move or patch up their multicolored wounds with whiteout. Before being unleashed onto the battlegrounds, players are supplied with paintballs and Tippmann 98 and electronic-trigger Smart Parts Vibe equipment.
"We don't judge a successful day on how many miles we rode, but by the smile on your face." With that motto as their driving force, the expert guides at MotoQuest play a role in each step of the tour planning—from manning the phones during initial queries to scouting out routes that's tailored to each group's comfort level. The multilingual team, who are also trained in First Aid and Professional Comedic Stand-Up, amiably lead groups of no more than 10 bikers all around the world, from Alaska to South Africa to Vietnam.
Riders board a fleet including Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, and Yamaha bikes and either follow guides down roads that veer off typical tourist paths, or pick up a road map and carve out their own epic journeys. They may also opt for hourly or weekly rentals of the motorcycles and scooters. Journeys may take riders across scenic landscapes or through bustling towns that acquaint them with the local culture.