I’ve been a lot of stunning places, but there are a few that can only be described as “magical”. Yosemite after an early spring snow, padding through the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon, and floating next to the glaciers in Glacier Bay on a clear day are magic moments.
Note that I didn’t fly the family to Alaska. Flying to Alaska is on the list of things to do, but most likely when the kids have left for college and I have more time. While flying to adventure saves time in the western states, it adds a couple of days when going to Alaska, and while it may be fun for the pilot it can be pretty boring for passengers. I included this trip to round out the family-friendly adventure category.
Sea kayaking in Glacier Bay is a wonderful family activity, especially because you can use double kayaks so you can have your child right in front of you the entire time. I have no idea why more families interested in outdoor adventure don’t head up to Glacier. After thinking about it some more, I have to admit there is a slight chance of having your child eaten by a grizzly bear, and a much better chance of spending significant time cold and wet in a drizzling rain, so there are a couple of pretty good reasons why some families may not elect to go. We were lucky in that none of us were eaten and we ended up with more sunshine than is normal.
One of the coolest things about the trip is that you take a national park tour boat and they stick your kayaks on the bow. At some point they announce to the passengers that they have to make a quick stop and then they ram the boat into the soft gravel of a beach. You get off, pull down your kayaks and gear, and then wave to all the passengers (many of whom think you’ll get eaten by grizzly bears) as they motor away. At the end of the trip, six days later, you picked up in another spot (pre-arranged) so you can do a one-way tour through Glacier Bay.
The glaciers are stunning and the wildlife is unbelievable with whales, bears, bald eagles and harbor seals, but it is a lot of work. In order not to get eaten, you have to keep all food in bear canisters and you have to walk down the beach from your camp to cook. If its raining that is no fun. However there is plenty of daylight, and one of the best things I remember is hanging out on the beach at 11:00 at night with my family as the long dusk moved into night.