But what exactly makes Alaska so magical? It’s the wilderness. It surrounds you, inspires you and even changes you if you let it. Catching glimpses of humpback whales as they surface, spotting bears far off amongst the foliage, kayaking with playful otters near glaciers, seeing salmon shooting by in rivers and eagles soaring far overhead — Alaska is one of the only places in the world where you can spot such a diversity of wildlife in their natural habitat.
Denali National Park puts you right smack in the middle of it. Known as one of the best national parks for spotting wildlife, the sprawling 6 million-acre park is a haven for Alaska’s true native residents. Helicopter flight-seeing over Denali’s changing terrain — from birch forests to tundra to Mt. Denali’s Muldrow Glacier — showcases the incredible scope of its rare and virtually intact wilderness treasures, as well as the trails forged by early frontiersmen.
While Denali is certainly a prime sanctuary for spotting such animals, when in Alaska, you should always keep your eyes peeled, as the entire state is rife with wandering wildlife. This is especially true when you’re on or near the water, as thousands of humpback and killer whales migrate their way to Alaska’s waters during the summer months. These gentle giants are so prominent, many tour operators will literally guarantee sightings.
You’ll find smaller aquatic creatures in Ketchikan, the town known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Every summer, the creek that runs through the city is the setting for a spawning frenzy for five different types of salmon. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to witness this natural phenomenon in all its glory as thousands upon thousands of salmon make their way upstream. The best place to see the salmon in action is at the salmon ladder toward the far entrance of Creek Street, a rustic boardwalk elevated on wooden pilings above the creek.
Do you know who else loves to watch salmon race upstream? Bears. Alaska is home to more than 98 percent of the Unites States’ brown bear population. However, it’s important to exercise caution when seeking out brown bear encounters, and that’s one reason a Celebrity Cruisetour — a 7-day cruise paired with an inland tour — is an excellent method of doing so. Expert tour guides will let you know if, how and when to approach a bear or other wild animal.
The adventures available on a Cruisetour can be curated to fit your interests. Have you always wanted to drive a dog sled? They can make that happen. Are you more interested in a relaxing river journey? A guided float on the serene Talkeetna River can be arranged. Not even a seaplane ride over Juneau Icefield and Tongass National Forest is out of reach. Their Cruisetours prove that nature travel doesn’t have to mean roughing it — in fact, travelers don’t sacrifice any luxuries when seeing the great outdoors by land and sea on a Celebrity Cruisetour. Nature and luxury are experienced simultaneously; you’ll be pampered and amazed every step of the way on this unforgettable Alaska escape.