Alaska Mountain Range - Denali Park
Canon 7D 50 mm lens 5 photos
Knowing where, when and how to travel in Alaska turned out
to be an advantage for me – an Australian businessman and
photographer who previously lived and worked in Alaska. The
decision for my wife Mimi and I to fly from our hometown of
Perth, Western Australia, into Anchorage and drive around
1,000 miles to selective destinations allowed for many photo
opportunities that may have been limited when travelling by
boat, rail or bus.
important to see this absolutely incredible wilderness as
close as you can - as if you were living there. More than
38 years ago I was fortunate enough to have journeyed to
many far removed areas throughout this wonderful state. It
was not only time for me to revisit once again, but to
introduce Alaska to my wife. And with years of photography
experience now “under my belt”, I was excited to make images
of Alaska’s grandeur.
opinion, the best time to be in Alaska is in the autumn.
The colors are spectacular! You can capture images of the
deep blue of the tidal glaciers on an overcast day, the
brilliant oranges and reds of the rapidly turning leaves,
the mountain tops draped in snow whites, and pastel like
colors on the weather-beaten old buses, boats and trucks.
The climate at this time of the year (late August and early
September) is generally nice and warm, it is daylight for
14-17 hours per day, the awful mosquitoes are gone, the
salmon are spawning, the bears are happy as food (salmon and
berries) is plentiful, and the tourists have significantly
thinned out in numbers. It is even possible to get a
glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), but this
is best done in the coldest winter nights in Fairbanks or
Travelers need to know that in Alaska, autumn very quickly
turns to winter. It starts off as incredibly beautiful for
a month or so but then gets very cold, dark and in many
cases, just plain nasty (way too cold for way too long).
chose characteristic cabins for our accommodations, which
allowed for ongoing interaction with the very interesting
locals. They enjoy sharing their experiences, of which many
were quite unique.
The three-week journey began in Anchorage and interestingly
the airport is one of the nicest airports, if not the best,
in America. Besides the 12 foot stuffed grizzly bear
standing tall in the glass enclosure, the northern lights
display as you walk towards the rental car desk is
It’s a huge state and I can’t begin to tell you everything
there is to tell or to show the plethora of photos made in
the small geographic area we visited, but I can certainly
give you a few of the highlights of our amazing journey.
We quickly departed Anchorage and drove south east on the
Seward Highway in our rented Toyota Rav4. It is a
gorgeous paved road that winds its way around ever-changing
mountain, cloud and water scenery. Although it was only a
two and one half hour drive to Seward, we took our time and
stopped frequently to create a multitude of photos.
Arriving in Seward revealed a small, quaint town surrounded
by mountains, glaciers and Resurrection Bay. It was just as
I had remembered!
The next morning we took a nine-hour boat cruise that took
us deep into the spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park. It
uncovered the remarkable Aialik Tidewater Glacier and an
abundance of Alaskan wildlife (whales, seabirds, sea lions,
sea otters and more).
The following day we drove to nearby Exit Glacier. We hiked
about an hour along a glacial stream until we reached its
base. One can feel quite insignificant ascending alongside
a mammoth block of ice.
Arriving in the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, Homer,
after a three-hour drive southwest from Seward, presented an
amazing view of the Kenai Mountains, glaciers and Kachemak
Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile long piece of land jutting out
from Homer into
is packed with restaurants, hotels, shops, beaches and more.
It is truly a unique place.
Katchemak Bay Mountains and Alpine Glaciers - Homer
Canon 7D 70-200 mm lens 5 photos
With so many restaurants from which to choose, we chose ours
when standing next to a boat that had just arrived. We had
watched as one of the fishermen delivered the fresh halibut
to the restaurant adjacent to it. Needless to say, the meal
Our log cabin that we had rented was located literally on
top of a steep mountain overlooking the Spit and at this
point, we were glad that we had the four-wheel drive
rental. The owner was a real character and had been a bear
hunting guide for many years and told us of some very
On our way northeast to Hope, through Coopers Landing, we
had to quickly stop when we saw a grizzly up to its neck in
the Kenai River. It was fishing for the salmon closely
alongside many fishermen nearby that shared the abundant
fish during the spawning season. The two young bear cubs
were nearby as well, but to our disappointment, they had
dashed into the woods before a photograph was possible.
A short drive north to a very small and well preserved gold
rush town named Hope allowed us to stay with an old
university friend in his custom built and truly Alaskan
decorative house made from timber and rocks from the area.
Interestingly, this retired friend told us of his real
Alaskan adventures, from extended kayaking trips with his
wife and two boys deep in the wilderness to his climbing of
Mount McKinley 6 times. We awoke with mountain and water
views of Turnagain Arm that were amazing. He told us that
previous visitors a few weeks earlier had a bit of a
confrontation with a grizzly right in their driveway,
however no one was injured. The excitement of Alaska!
Another short, but very nice drive northeast to the coastal
town of Whittier followed. At the end of the road we
entered the single lane Whittier Tunnel - the longest
combined rail and highway tunnel in North America. After an
amazing boat cruise on a rare sunny day, we got close and
personal with two tidal glaciers and saw numerous and quite
spectacular alpine glaciers.
We were told to keep an eye out for Beluga Whales in the
Cook Inlet on our drive along the Seward Highway from
Whittier northeast and back towards Anchorage. They said
that the whales follow the salmon that comes in with the
tide in the early evening. Although we didn’t see any
whales during the hour drive at dusk, we did watch several
surfers that were literally riding the waves of the incoming
tide as it swiftly moved in from the ocean around Turnagain
Arm. We by-passed Anchorage and drove directly north to the
very fertile Matanuska Valley with an overnight stay in the
town of Palmer.
Alaskan Mountain Range and Talkeetna
After driving due north to Talkeetna, a small town with
spectacular views of the Alaska Mountain Range and Mount
McKinley, we hopped on a flight-seeing tour.
This was one thrilling escapade! We were flown in a small
bush plane fitted with skis deep into the Alaska Mountain
Range. We then landed on a bed of white - a glacier 8,000
feet high. This was the Mount McKinley base camp for
climbers. From this point on, it takes around three weeks
to walk up the remaining 12,000 feet to the summit.
Base Camp to Mount Mckinley - 8000 feet high
Canon 7D 50 mm lens
From Talkeetna, it was only two hours on the George Parks
Highway due north to the entrance of Denali Park. We had to
stop many times to take in the mountain views that were
mixed with the first signs of the autumn colors. The leaves
were absolutely engaging and they seemed to get even more
impressive each day.
Horseshoe Lake - Denali Park
Canon 7D 10-22 mm lens
We were able to drive about 15 miles into Denali Park, but
private vehicles are restricted beyond that point, so the
next day we boarded a tour bus that drove 89 miles deep into
the park. We arrived at Kantishna, where we were
fortunate to see and photograph Mount McKinley unadorned in
clouds. It seemed like each turn of the road revealed
a stunning scene that was better than the last - one photo
opportunity after another.
And, we were
fortunate to have
seen such a wide variety of wildlife and birds - grizzlies,
countless moose, caribou, elk, Dall Sheep, Kittiwakes,
Puffins, Bald Eagles and so much more. The wildlife
alone could have made this photo adventure all worth it.
What a beauty! Image made during a
presentation on eagles by U.S. Fish & Game biologists.
After a few days, we headed south to Anchorage. Our
journey had come to an end. We of course left
ourselves extra time to stop at creeks and lakes during the
scenic drive to compose so many more photographs.
As we flew out of Anchorage to Seattle, we could see some of
the mountain ranges that we had traveled and although we
were quite high in the sky, we could vividly remember the
wondrous events from this Alaskan trip. We vowed to return
and see more soon.
Barry & Mimi Epstein
Barry Epstein is an Australian photographer, businessman,
medical imaging specialist and biomarker expert living in Perth,
Western Australia. He has traveled into remote wilderness
locations (Alaska and Australia) and has created landscape,
architectural, portrait and transportation photographs from
metropolitan and rural areas throughout Europe, Asia, USA,
Russia and other locations since 1970.
in Brooklyn New York, Barry graduated from the University of
Alaska in Biological Sciences. He then received a Diploma in
Diagnostic Ultrasonography from the New York Radiological
Institute. Currently, he is the Vice President of Marketing for
a biotechnology company, Proteomics International, that is
actively commercializing biomarkers (protein molecules) used to
develop molecular diagnostic tests for several diseases.
about Barry, his contact information and an array of photographs
can be found on his
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