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Wilderness expeditions in Girdwood, Alaska

SmarterTravel

Thirty-five miles south of Anchorage, in the middle of, well, nowhere, is the tiny town of Girdwood. This lesser-known gem is home to spectacular scenery, a world-class ski resort, and one-of-a-kind wilderness expeditions.

Start your journey by exploring Girdwood’s past at the Crow Creek Gold Mine. Historic buildings and rare mining equipment are on display, and you can try your luck panning for gold in the mine’s original claims.

For panoramic views of the Alaskan wilderness, hop on the aerial tramway at the Alyeska Ski Resort. It stops at a deck 2,300 feet above sea level, where you can enjoy coffee at the Glacier Express Cafe while soaking in the view. Options for returning to the bottom include the tramway, and, for the more adventurous, paragliding.

Come face-to-face with bears, caribou, and coyotes at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The center is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife, and looks after orphaned or injured animals in exhibits that reflect natural habitats.

If not for anything else, come for Girdwood’s countless outdoor activities. Hike across a glacier, kayak in Prince William Sound, or ride a zip-line on a rainforest canopy tour. Winter visitors can ski or take the trail less traveled on a dog-mushing, snowshoeing, or snowcat ski expedition.

After a day out in the wilderness you can easily justify an indulgent spa treatment. Or relax in your room before dinner at one of Girdwood’s restaurants.

For more planning tips, go to the Travel Alaska website.

Read more of the 50 Affordable Stateside Escapes.

Have a recommendation for Girdwood, or another great getaway in Alaska? Post your comment below.

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