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The 10 Coolest High-Adrenaline Shore Excursions in Alaska

by Kim Foley MacKinnon | December 18, 2015

Alaska's middle name is adventure and just because you're on a cruise with all the perks of an upscale resort doesn't mean you can't get your hands or feet a little dirty (or cold). Here are 10 ways to push your pulse into overdrive.

Takshanuk Mountain Trail 4x4: Put the pedal to the metal in a Kawasaki Mule, an automatic transmission 4x4 utility vehicle, for a six-mile round-trip trek in the scenic Alaskan wilderness near Skagway on the Takshanuk Mountain trailhead — populated by eagles, moose, and even the occasional bear.

Klondike Rock Climbing and Rappelling: This excursion from Skagway takes you to the base of a spectacular rock face carved by retreating glaciers. Once geared (and psyched) up, you'll scramble up a sheer granite cliff, and then rappel down 70 feet as you squeal with fear (or perhaps joy).

Dog Sledding Adventure by Helicopter: Buckle up for a 15-minute helicopter ride over the Juneau Icefield to a dog sled camp on the middle branch of the Norris Glacier, where you'll meet your team of adorable and energetic huskies ready to zip you across the frozen landscape.

Ocean Raft Adventure: Hold on to your hats and glasses as you race at 50 miles per hour through the Taiya Inlet, North America's longest and deepest fjord. Only non-motion-sensitive souls who love roller coasters should sign up for this wild ride.

Taku Glacier Adventure by Air, Water and Ice: Hop aboard a helicopter in Juneau for a flight above Tongass National Forest, Juneau Ice Field, Gastineau Channel, and the Taku River to Taku Point. Skim along the river in an airboat that takes you feet from the edge of the Taku Glacier for amazing photo ops, and then helicopter in for a trek on its 4,500-foot-thick ice.

Alaska's Ultimate Canopy and Zipline Expedition: After a high-speed boat ride from Juneau across the Gastineau Channel to the Treadwell Mine site on Douglas Island, you'll get harnessed up to tackle aerial suspension bridges and a one-mile circuit of zip lines that zigzag through the forest canopy.

Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure: When in Ketchikan, see Alaska from a different perspective: underwater! Pull on a wetsuit and jump into shallow tide pools (no worries, the water's a comfy 65 degrees in summer) to spy on multicolored sea stars, urchins, sea cucumbers, and other marine life.

Five Glacier Seaplane Exploration: Board one of Alaska’s main modes of transportation, a seaplane, to swoop over five awe-inspiring Juneau Ice Field glaciers: Norris, Hole-in-the-Wall, East and West Twin Glaciers, and the five-mile-wide Taku Glacier.

Helicopter Glacier Trek: If you've never heard of crampons and carabiners, you'll know what they are after this exhilarating excursion from Juneau. Helicopter to the top of a glacier for a two-hour guided trek through a remote frozen wonderland.

Adventure Kart Expedition: Go off-roading on 10 miles of wilderness trails near Ketchikan in a specially built all-terrain Tomcar, climbing up to breathtaking views of the Tongass National Forest, Behm Canal, and the Inside Passage.

 

Kim Foley MacKinnon

Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based writer for ShermansCruise whose work has also appeared in The Boston Globe.

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