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story and photo by David Cohen 

Wildlife, glaciers and lush natural landscapes make Alaska one of the most exhilarating and beautiful places to visit. Inspired by last year’s unforgettable vacation to the Kenai Peninsula, PINK has opted to host annual group trips for LGBT travelers. The first took place in the summer of 2006, bringing nine lesbian friends on an adventure to the last frontier.

Our intrepid group arrived in Anchorage via American Airlines, and spent the first night at the Puffin Inn next to the airport. After breakfast we loaded up our rental SUVs and headed south toward Seward. This charming coastal town is one of the oldest and most scenic communities in Alaska. Home to a small and charming boat harbor, Seward has a lot to offer. From fishing, hiking and kayaking to cruise tours of massive glaciers and three different fjords, this is sure to be the most breathtaking experience of any sightseer’s life. The Kenai Fjords Tours explore the region’s wildlife—whales, otters, puffins, seals, white eagles and bears—all found in the Gulf of Alaska and at the Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is simply nature at its best.

We stayed a night at the Seward Windsong Lodge nested in a glacier river valley next to Exit Glacier where we hiked the following morning. Spending a night on Fox Island, to experience the remote wilderness retreat of Resurrection Bay, is highly recommended. These are ideal places to enjoy the “real Alaska.” If choosing to stay in town, the Holiday Inn Express, next to the strip of shops and restaurants, is also an excellent option.
After a few days in Seward, it was time to hit the road and travel north toward Denali National Park. To enjoy nature’s wonder, we had to stop along the way to soak in the spectacular views.

En route to Denali, the group paused to relax for one night at the Alyeska Resort. Though located in the quaint town of Girdwood, this resort offers world-class accommodations. Here, the luxury of fine dining is discovered at Seven Glaciers, the hotel’s top-of-the-mountain restaurant that sits 2,300 feet above sea level. The restaurant continually receives the Wine Spectator Restaurant Award, and is one of the two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Alaska.

Driving north the next morning, Denali National Park’s Mount McKinley was clearly seen on the horizon, something that doesn’t happen very often. The Athabascans referred to it as the “Great One” because of its massive peak—the park itself is larger than the state of Massachusetts. Denali remains one of the world’s last great frontiers for wilderness adventure, largely wild and as unspoiled as the natives knew it. Here the PINK pack stayed at the Denali McKinley Chalet Resort located in the middle of town. The hotel offers a package including mini-suites, dinner with a show, a guided Tundra Wilderness Tour to the park, and a paddle rafting trip along the Nenana River. To get a sense for how enormous Denali really is, flight- seeing over the park and Mount McKinley is highly recommended. The view is unlike anything

Traveling with a group enhances any destination’s experience when perceiving it through camaraderie. Making our way to the airport, we were both happy and sad. Happy to have experienced an unforgettable week of adventures. Sad that we had to leave such a beautiful place and our friends. The awesome sights of the last frontier and the good times we had there would not have been possible if not for our wonderful group of Alaskan adventurers.


 


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