Let's count this as one of the most awesome things we've ever managed to do on vacation.
When we were in Alaska, we'd booked ourselves on a trip that took us from Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park, up to Denali National Park. And even though that was a pretty good sampling of the state, Alaska is so much larger than that. Was there any way that we could see more of it?
Yes. Yes, there was. We decided to charter a small plane to take us to Lake Clark National Park--one of the remote National Parks in Alaska, which is only accessible by plane or boat. You might know that there are eight National Parks in Alaska, and some of them have little to no infrastructure. Lake Clark is one of those.
We got in our plane in Anchorage, and flew along the southern Alaska coast until we got to the National Park. There was a small cabin near the coast, and our plane landed on the beach (because there's no runway).
It was beautiful, but a little bit rainy. So, we borrowed some snappy yellow rain slickers and got into the back of a cart being pulled by an ATV, as our guide drove us around, looking for bears. The mosquitos were unreal. If you do this, yourself, make sure you're armed with bug spray.
Then, as we headed back down to the beach, we had some luck! Two big brown bears were on the beach, digging for clams. As we approached, they ran into the ocean for a while, playing in the low surf. Since they were pretty far out there, we got out of our cart and walked out on the beach to try to get a better look. And that's when the bears started getting frisky with each other, making sweet love in the low tide.
After they were done, they started to come back into shore--and we were almost directly in their path. We didn't want to run back to the ATV, because that would have only encouraged them to chase us. So, we stayed still, the bears ran right by us, and started sniffing around our ATV. It was terrifying for a moment, but our guide suggested that the bears on the coast were much less threatening to people, since they were well-fed with the abundant clams and salmon in the area.
Eventually, the bears moved away from the ATV, and we were able to get back to our plane for the flight back to Anchorage.
It was really fun and exciting to see one of the least-visited National Parks in the system, thrilling to get there by having our plane land on a beach, and exhilarating to be so close to those wild bears. If you'd like to do something like this (and you definitely should want to do something like this), we can make it happen for you. Let us know when you'd like to go!