Alaska draws visitors in summer for its wilderness and long hours of sunshine. Long hours of daylight mean more time for outdoor fun in places such as Alyeska Resort.
Alyeska Resort, located southeast of Anchorage, soaks up 20 hours of sunlight in summer. The extra daylight hours mean that visitors can have plenty of time to enjoy the pile of outdoor activities available, but will find little darkness for stargazing.
Alyeska's main summer attraction is the Alyeska Aerial Tram. The tram climbs 2,025 feet in elevation in 14 minutes from The Hotel Alyeska to the top of Mt. Alyeska. The higher the tram goes, the more you can see, starting with looking down at Turnagin Arm. The observation deck at the top provides views of seven hanging glaciers in the Girdwood Valley and the colossal peaks of the Chugach Mountains.
Activities at the top of the tram are abundant. You can watch wildlife through a telescope or dine with the view. The Roundhouse Museum, an octagonal structure built in 1960 as a warming hut, serves as a historical interpretive center.
Hikers can use the tram to gain elevation and then hike the Mountain Top Trail for views into Glacier Bowl or drop on one of the several trails descending to Alyeska Hotel or Girdwood. Guides lead three-hour tours into Glacier Bowl every day for on ice looks at the Alyeska Glacier.
This is the first summer that the resort is allowing mountain bikers to take bicycles up the tram. A test-day last September proved to be a success when intermediate and advanced riders tried out the downhill trails. Bikes are permitted on the tram on Saturdays and Sundays this summer.
The tram runs daily, 9:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., May 22 through October 3. It operates weekends only May 1-16 and Oct. 9-17. Tram rides cost $9-18, depending on age. Tickets for bikers cost $30.
Lodging is available at the base of the tram at The Hotel Alyeska. The town of Girdwood also has condos, vacation homes, and a hostel.
More information. Or call 800-880-3880 or 907-754-2111.
The Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood sits at the base of the aerial tram. Photo: Ken Graham Photography.