I’ll be honest: we knew almost nothing about Seward when we decided to move here.
On our trip from Homer back to Anchorage, we dropped by¹ and did a drive-through of the town (that didn’t take long). I also met the team at the facility where I hoped to work, and I liked the place and the people instantly. Seward also had a good word-of-mouth buzz, both from tourists we talked to at Denali and locals that we met in Anchorage and other places. The latter carries extra weight—when an Alaskan tells you they like something within their state, you should pay attention.
That being said, the wise thing would’ve been to spend a little more time in Seward before moving all of our belongings cross country, committing long-term to a job, and moving to this tiny, remote town. But that’s how we roll, man.
Riding on the Denali National Park shuttle in search of wildlife was usually an all-day affair. We had plenty of time to meditate on the scenery and get to know our neighbors as the bus lurched along at 10 miles an hour.
Our contemplations, however, were often interrupted by urgent, single-syllable cries of “Moose!” or “Stop!” that brought the bus to a jolting halt.
The weather forecast for our time on the Alcan showed nothing but rain. For days, it was supposed to rain. We were going to miss some of the stunning scenic views that make the Alcan legendary, all because of rain.
After Banff, our next stop on the road trip was neighboring Jasper National Park, another Canadian beauty. Jasper is the largest of the Rocky Mountain National Parks, covering more than 4200 square miles. We only spent two nights in Jasper, but we made the most of it.
There are no words to adequately describe Banff National Park, and as a writer, it’s really, really frustrating when my vocabulary comes up so short.
I guess if I had to choose an appropriate adjective, it would be ridiculous; what with its UNESCO World Heritage Designation and pristine ecosystem and dense evergreen forests and towering mountains, and oh yeah, its immense glaciers, Banff is just plain ridiculous.
After leaving Glacier, we crossed the border into Canada and headed for Waterton Lakes National Park, in Alberta. The two parks are actually a single entity, called Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, established in 1932 by members of the Rotary International organizations in Alberta and Montana. Both parks have been designated as Biosphere Reserves, and the Peace Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Note: each park has its own administration and entrance fees and you have to go through customs when crossing the border).
Glacier National Park, in northeastern Montana, isn’t just a jewel, it’s an entire crown.
It’s part of the “Crown of the Continent,” 28,000 square miles of wild, rugged Rocky Mountain terrain encompassing the corners of Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana. Its sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park, sits just across the border in Canada. In addition to these two national parks, the Crown of the Continent has several national forests and Indian Reservations and numerous Montana state and Canadian provincial parks.
We started the second leg of our road trip on August 20.
Destination:Denali National Park in Alaska, where we plan to camp for ten days. Along the way, we’ll make stops in Montana’s Glacier National Park as well as three Canadian national parks, Waterton Lake, Banff, and Jasper. Then we’ll hop on the Alaska-Canada Highway (also known as the Alcan), which is about 1400 miles and runs from Dawson Creek, Canada, to Delta Junction, Alaska. We have about two weeks to cover this ground and reach Denali to claim our campsite.