Paddle Alaskan Waters on Prince William Sound - Backpacker

Sample Alaskan Waters on Prince William Sound

For experienced paddlers, the 100-mile kayak trip across Prince William Sound serves up expedition scenery with surprisingly easy logistics.
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Crossing from Esther Island to the mainland.

Crossing from Esther Island to the mainland.

The hiking in Alaska is so good that it’s easy to forget the state has some 47,000 miles of shoreline, including islands, sounds, and bays. “This 10-day crossing of Prince William Sound, from Whittier to Valdez, has everything—calving glaciers, remote beach campsites, and wildlife,” says Anchorage-based photographer Matt Hage. “Plan to take a layover day in Heather Bay to explore Columbia Glacier and spend your last night at Shoup Glacier.” Dense forests grow right up against the shore of the jigsaw-puzzle coastline, and glaciers spill into the water (keep a half mile from the ice). Five types of whales—including humpbacks and orcas—live in the sound, as well as dolphins and sea lions, and on land you might see black and brown bears, moose, and mountain goats.

Skilled kayakers can do it on their own (good navigation and weather chops required); others should go guided (below) on a modified itinerary. Bonus: The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry makes it an easy and affordable DIY expedition. Just be sure to pitch your tent (and store your boat) well above the high-tide line. Rainfall here is measured in feet, not inches, so pack gear for wet conditions, like extra kitchen tarps.

Guide/rentals Alaska Sea Kayakers (boats from $65/day; four-day trips from $1,400/person 

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