2-Week Grand Alaska Road Trip with Kids – Day 9: I Finally Met the Bears!

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Start of our trip:

2-Week Grand Alaska Road Trip with Kids - Intro

Day 1: In Search of Gold

Day 2: Meeting the Reindeer

Day 3: First Hike on a Glacier

Day 4: Our Favorite Day of the Trip

Day 5: The Longest Drive

Day 6: Meeting Santa Claus

Day 7: Denali River Rafting

Day 8: Hiking with a View of Denali

 

This morning we were heading down south again. We spent a few days around Anchorage at the start of our trip. We also made the drive down along the Turnagain Arm seeing various sights on Day 1. Today we were heading down the same direction; however, our goal was to get much farther – all the way to Seward. 

Despite having explored the Turnagain Arm area already once, it was still nice to see the landscape outside the car window. I don't think landscapes like these ever get old, no matter how many times you see them.

However, there were still a few sights on my list that we did not manage to see here the first time around. So, I made sure to include them today. 

The first one was Virgin Creek Falls. Although it was a very short trail and took under 10 minutes to get to the waterfall, it was a true temperate rainforest setting. Tall spruce trees were covered in thick hanging moss. It was like a scenery right out of our hikes at Olympic National Park in Washington a few years back. I was pretty amazed as I did not expect to see that here. 

Also, a handwritten paper note at the start of the trail warned of yesterday’s bear sighting on the trail. Maybe this would be my lucky day? The waterfall itself wasn’t big, yet the mossy, mystic rainforest scenery around it made the setting around it magical. 

Not much else to do here, and no bears, so we walked back to the car to make our way to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

I’m not big on zoos or animals in captivity in general, yet there was a reason why each of these animals had found their place at the Center. Orphaned, broken wing, sick or part of conservation efforts – they each had their story and purpose. 

Although the Center’s 1.5-mile (2.5km) loop can be driven in a car, we chose to walk it. Both – to get more up close with the animals and also to get our boys extra energy diverted to walking rather than fighting with each other in the car. 

Of course, I was the most excited about FINALLY getting a chance to meet Alaska bears! And, boy, they delivered! Although animal enclosures are large, both grizzlies were foraging and playing right by the fence, an arm’s reach away. I could have never safely observed a grizzly bear in the wild from as up close as we could do it here. It was amazing!

And they were in their natural habitat, even with a large stream running through their territory which both bears enjoyed splashing in. 

Equally adorable was also the Alaska black bear. It had chosen to position itself right at the top of the mountain in between all the spring flowers!

We also saw many other animals that inhabit the state of Alaska, like moose, elk, foxes, wolves etc. And there were little caribou and bison babies here too! 

Part of the walk took us on the Turnagain Arm Scenic Boardwalk. And they weren’t lying – it was truly scenic! The color of the water was bright turquoise with green mountains completing the picture. 

And we even saw some crazy kite-surfers here! There was no way I would do it even with a wet or dry suit on! My feet were cramping up in this glacial water even when stepping in just ankle deep. 

Once we completed the walk, it was already past 3PM. We decided to have late lunch right here at the Center’s café so we don’t need to waste time driving around looking for something. We got the usual suspects – bison burger and reindeer dogs with some pizza slices and cheese sticks for the boys. Not the most nutritious or healthy meal, yet the goal of not being hungry was accomplished. 

From here we had just about a 2-hour drive left to get to Seward. It was a very scenic ride with mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. One of my favorite spots was probably the Tern Lake Pullover seen in the below picture.

By about 6PM we reached our hotel in Seward. After we had checked in somewhat arranged the luggage, we decided to make the short drive into town. After all the nights where we came back to the hotel at 10 or 11PM, it just did not feel right to call it a night at 6PM already. So, we hopped in the car and drove to the harbor area. 

Upon first impressions, Seward reminded me a little bit of Valdez – the wooden, colorful houses; the emerald water and mountain scenery all around; hundreds of boats and yachts moored in the harbor. Yet the vibe was different – more touristy and commercial. But it was still very lovely, and we spent quite some time walking along the docks – checking out all the boats and fishing equipment in them.

We noticed that there are also quite a few awesome Alaska-themed wall murals / paintings here. Literally – pieces of art, like these puffins. 

As we were aimlessly wandering around town anyway, we decided to use this opportunity to have some local fare for dinner. Once we found an open restaurant (Alaska Seafood Grill) that did not have an hour-long wait, I was ecstatic to see they offered crab cake sandwiches! I had been craving one this whole trip and this place finally had them! And – they also had chowder in bread bowl which is my second favorite thing. So, of course, I had to get both!

The restaurant offered outside seating which we took advantage of – it was a lovely, sunny and warm Alaska evening. We had been so lucky on this trip – 9 days and not a drop of rain so far! We enjoyed our sandwiches and soup with harbor views while the boys go to enjoy all the various outdoor games that were put out for the diners (like mega Jenga, cornhole, ring toss and others).  

It was a great first night in Seward and after dinner we made the short drive back to our resort where, although it already being 10PM, the boys still wanted to stay outside and play. After all – Alaska’s 10PM in June looked like the middle of the day. However, with another early activity tomorrow morning, we had to tell them it was time to get ready for bed. 

 

Continue reading:

Alaska - Day 10: The Magic of Fjords, Glaciers and Wildlife

Alaska - Day 11: There Can Never Be Too Many Glaciers

Alaska - Day 12: Mountains, Gold and Elves

Alaska - Day 13: The Moose are Everywhere

 

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