Alaska 2014 trip

In June 2014, I spent about 3 weeks in Alaska. On the right you can see the main destinations. Photos from each destination are shown on separate pages. On this page you can see some photos from the trip. I rented a car and spent 14 days on-the-road driving around in Southcentral Alaska. In total I covered about 1940 miles or 3120 km, much less than I have been driving on recent trips in the lower states or in Australia. First I drove north via the Mat-Su Valley to the Denali area, where I spent a small week in typical inland environment. There is only one road into the Denali National Park (148 km long), and with only buses allowed for most of the stretch, I booked tickets for three full-day trips with shuttle bus into the park. The shuttle buses are flexible in that you may disembark - re-board anywhere along the road, in other words good for hiking and short stops. Although not strictly allowed by the car rental company, I also spent a couple of days on the Denali Highway between Cantwell and Paxson. Although not paved, the road was more than good enough to drive with a regular car. I went halfway down the 320 km long highway, and this drive was one of the most amazing experiences during the trip. A highly recommended stretch to explore. The last week I spent on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. This area is much more crowded than the inland, especially during the salmon run, which I happened to run into. Large crowds of locals had gathered to catch Red (sockeye) salmon in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. Quite a spectacle, and the campsites were filled to the rim. I went to Homer for a flight to the Katmai National Park and bear watching, and then to Seward for a Kenai Fjord cruise. I also visited Whittier, situated in the Prince William Sound area. But as it was unfortunately pouring down while I was there, I cut the stay short. The last day I spent along the Turnagain Inlet just south of Anchorage. Here I visited the gold digger town of Hope, and also the Crow Creek Mine, which offered the visitors to pan for gold in the riverbed spoils. I ended the road trip with another visit to Potter Marsh in the outskirts of Anchorage. Potter Marsh is a wetland good for birding, but I did not see much there except gulls and Arctic terns.

Weather-wise it was a mixed experience. I had two sunny days in Denali NP, and also some sunny days in the south, as well as 3 rainy days and the rest with overcast. I guess about what should be expected, and not that different from Norwegian conditions. Nature-like Alaska also resembles Norway, with snow-capped mountains, green fjords from glacier minerals, wilderness and lots of mosquitos. Many of the bird and wildflower species I saw are also common in Northern Europe, so maybe it was not so strange that many Scandinavians settled in this frontier state after emigrating from Europe.


Places visited during my stay in Alaska 2014


Alaskan wilderness, on the plane from Anchorage to St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea


Near Dillingham in Western Alaska


On St. Paul Island among old Fin whale bones


Birders at St. Paul Island


Local shopping center in St. Paul Village


The canteen at the Trident factory where we had all our meals while staying at St. Paul Island. The food was in fact excellent, and nothing to complain about


Arctic Fox, St. Paul Island


Lake Hill crater lake, St. Paul Island


Downtown Anchorage




Anchorage highway


Gadwall (Anas strepera), Westchester Lagoon, near downtown Anchorage


Greater Scaup (Aythya marila), Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage


American Wigeon (Mareca americana), Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage


Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca carolinensis), Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage


Eklutna Lake, north of Anchorage, Southcentral Alaska


Palmer Hay Flats, Mat-Su Valley


Palmer Hay Flats near Reflections Lake


Glenn Highway bridge across Knik River, Alaska


Gas station in Wasilla


Toward Hatcher Pass, in the Talkeetna Mountains between the towns of Willow and Palmer, Alaska


Hatcher Pass. Unfortunately, the gate toward the summit was still closed on June 20th


First view of "the Big One" aka Denali Mountain along Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3)


White Spruce (Picea glauca) near Cantwell, along Parks Highway south of Denali National Park


Nenana River along Denali Highway, east of Cantwell


Nenana River along Parks Highway, north of Cantwell. Nenana Rivers is a tributary of the Tanana River, which drains into Yukon River


Into Denali NP at 05.30 in the morning for an early shuttle bus departure


Savage River, Denali NP


Mountains in Denali NP


Denali NP


View toward the Denali Mountain


Denali peaks


Dall Sheep in Denali NP


Pizza in Canyon Village after spending 12 hours in Denali NP


Canyon Village near the Denali NP entrance


Alaska Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja unalaschcensis)


Alaska Railroad near Healy


Healy Power Plant. A coal-fired powerplant in Healy, Alaska


On the Denali Highway


Denali Highway


Brushkana River bridge (31.4 miles from Cantwell), Denali Highway


Brushkana River, Denali Highway


View from Denali Highway north towards the Alaska Range Mountains


Home of mosquitos


Marsh Labrador Tea (Rhododendron tomentosum) "finnmarkspors"


More Alaskan wilderness (Denali Highway)


Potter Marsh, a good birding spot at the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge


Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), Potter Marsh


American Wigeon (Anas americana), Potter Marsh


Taiga Bluet (Coenagrion resolutum), Potter Marsh


Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata), Potter Marsh. This is the Official State Insect of Alaska! Selected because dragonflies, also known as mosquito hawks, feed on mosquitos :)


Boreal Whiteface (Leucorrhinia borealis), Potter Marsh


Potter Marsh boardwalk


Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), Potter Marsh


Roadside bull Moose (Alces alces) at dawn


Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) feasting on Halibut leftovers from local fishermen


Prince William Sound near Whittier


Wet Alaskan wilderness


Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), Kenai, Alaska


Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus), Kenai, Alaska


Whittier, a Prince William Sound town


Turnagain Inlet


Fishing frenzy in Kenai River, near Cooper Landing, Kenai Peninsula


The locals are mainly fishing for Sockeye Salmon in Kenai River


American Beaver (Castor canadensis), Kenai Peninsula


Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)


Juvenile Bald Eagle


Adult Bald Eagle


Fishing frency at the mouth of Kasilof River. The locals used dipnet fishing and were allowed to catch 25 salmon each


Catch of the day - Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), locally called Red salmon


Glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens) feeding on Sockeye salmon leftovers


Kasilof River dipnetting after Sockeye salmon, June 26, 2014


Kenai Peninsula river


Turnagain Arm mountain vegetation


Dall Sheep, Steward Highway


Near Exit Glacier, Kenai Peninsula


Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria camschatcensis)


Kenai Peninsula near Exit Glacier


Cow Moose (Alces alces), Kenai River Mouth flats


Cow Moose (Alces alces), Cooper Landing, Kenai Peninsula


Homer, the halibut capital of the world




In Homer I stayed in a spacious room at A Fishermans Resort. They even had a fish-processing factory in the basement!


Homer Spit seen from the plane toward Katmai National Park


Ninilchik River. Ninilchik is an old Russian settlement on Kenai Peninsula


Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)


Seward, Alaska


Seward is an important shipping entry for gods coming to Southcentral Alaska


Seward on Kenai Peninsula


Seward from Resurrection Bay, Kenai Peninsula


Fox Island, Resurrection Bay


Rough weather on Kenai Fjord Cruise


Hope museum. House used by the gold diggers around 1900


Gold digging equipment. They used hydraulic pumps (water-canons) by the end of the 1800-century


Alaska beer is often sold in these strange glasses



At the Crow Creek Gold Mine


  Bird list Alaska 2014
  1 American Robin Turdus migratorius
  2 American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
  3 American Wigeon Anas americana
  4 Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
  5 Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  6 Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
  7 Barrows Goldeneye Bucephala islandica
  8 Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
  9 Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia
  10 Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
  11 Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla
  12 Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani
  13 Boreal Owl (sound) Aegolius funereus
  14 Bufflehead Bucephala albeola
  15 Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  16 Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
  17 Common Merganser Mergus merganser
  18 Common Murre Uria aalge
  19 Common Raven Corvus corax
  20 Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea
  21 Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
  22 Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
  23 Gadwall Anas strepera
  24 Glacious-winged Gull Larus glaucescens
  25 Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
  26 Golden-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla
  27 Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
  28 Gray-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus
  29 Gray-crowned Rosy Finch Leucosticte tephrocotis
  30 Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
  31 Greater Scaup Aythya marila
  32 Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
  33 Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
  34 Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  35 Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata
  36 Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica
  37 Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris
  38 Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus
  39 Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
  40 Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
  41 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  42 Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus
  43 Mew Gull Larus canus
  44 Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
  45 Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
  46 Northern Pintail Anas acuta
  47 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
  48 Northwestern Crow Corvus caurinus
  49 Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica
  50 Pacific/Winter Wren Troglodytes pacificus
  51 Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula
  52 Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus
  53 Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba
  54 Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator
  55 Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
  56 Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
  57 Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
  58 Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata
  59 Rock Dove Columba livia
  60 Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis
  61 Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis
  62 Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
  63 Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
  64 Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris
  65 Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
  66 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
  67 Surf Scooter Melanitta perspicillata
  68 Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
  69 Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata
  70 White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
  71 Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus
  72 Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)

Mew Gull (Larus canus brachyrhynchus). Now considered conspecific, and called Short-billed Gull (Larus brachyrhynchus)

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)