Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anchorage Museum

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    This is a really good museum. It covers Alaskan history from the first inhabitants up to the construction of the pipeline. There’s also a large gallery of native artifacts from the Smithsonian Museum, several art galleries, changing exhibits galleries and even a hands-on science center.

   Everything is accessible.

  There’s a parking lot directly across from the main entrance that is large enough for vans or small RVs but it’s expensive.  On the street parking, limited to two hours, is cheaper. Check the museum website for other parking options.  Museum
61.21612, -149.88419
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alaska Native Heritage Center Museum

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    The center interprets the traditional and contemporary lifestyles of the eleven major Native American groups living in Alaska. To get a better understanding join a guided tour through the six separate buildings representing the different types of housing. There are also continuously running films, a stage with dance and athletic demonstrations, artisans at work and a small museum section, all in the main building.  Admission is kind of high so give yourself enough time to see everything and buy a combination ticket if you’re planning to go to the Anchorage Museum too.

   The main building is accessible. Viewing for the stage and the theater are good. The Territorial Guard exhibit in the museum is too high to see easily. The path outside through the village houses is surfaced with small river rock, loose and deep in spots. Many of the houses have small lips or steps at the entrances. Most wheelchair uses will need to have some help.

    The parking lot is large enough for all RVs.  Cultural Center
     61.23256, -149.71734
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Centennial Campground

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   The sites are pretty close together in this city park which shouldn’t matter since it doesn’t look like it ever gets very busy. Most of the spaces are short with a lot of trees but a few of them are large enough for big RVs.

   None of the sites are handicapped accessible. The tables don’t have any overhang. The ground is hard packed dirt and uneven around most of the tables and fire rings. Campground
61.22539, -149.72562
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Independence Mine State Historical Park

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   Built in the late 1930s, this mining town had a very short life. Gold mining was considered nonessential during WWII and then after the war it wasn’t very profitable. The mine closed completely in 1951. The mine manager’s house is a museum and visitor center. A paved trail with interpretive signs winds past bunkhouses, the mess hall, shop buildings and then up the hill to the mine complex.

  The site is partially accessible. There are a few handicapped parking spaces close to the visitor center which are long enough for vans or small RVs. The visitor center has a couple of steps down to the museum section– no ramp. The trail around most of the site is fairly level and the signs are easy to read. The hill leading to the mine complex is very steep.

  The main parking lot is large enough for any RV but the road to the mine is steep and windy so people with large RVs may wish to leave them in Palmer.  Mine
61.77956, -149.2784
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gold Mint Trailhead Camping

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  The camping sites are along the edge of the trailhead parking lot. There are tables and fire rings but basically you’re camping in a parking lot with a wonderful 360 degree view of the mountains.

The trail is made with large gravel so it isn’t accessible.The parking lot is smooth asphalt.  Camp sites
61.77842, -149.19678
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Palmer, Alaska State Fair

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   Extra hours of sunlight and fertile soil are the prefect combination for growing huge vegetables. Each of the giant cabbages weigh over 70 pounds! Other than the vegetables this is a pretty typical state fair – lots of food booths, homemade crafts and 4H projects, free shows and a carnival midway.

   The fair grounds are all paved. The main buildings are accessible with ramps or ground level entrances. Many of the booths selling merchandises have very steep short ramps that don’t fit flush with the ground or the booths.

   RV parking is pretty close to the entrance but it’s in a grassy area so ask for a space close to the graveled roadway. Also ask for an overnight pass because the fee is the same for a day pass or an overnight one. Fair
61.57922, -149.12893
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Colony House Museum

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  This looks like an ordinary little house but inside you’ll hear the amazing story about the of town of Palmer. Unlike most Alaskan towns, which sprang up as part of the gold rush or as bases for the military road, Palmer began as a planned agricultural community. During the depression over 200 families from the Great Lakes region of the lower 48 were relocated in an ambitious New Deal program. They were given a fresh start with 40 acres of land, temporary tent housing and credit to buy any supplies that they needed.

  More of the story ,with pictures and artifacts,is told at the small museum in the Palmer Visitor Center and on sign boards in the park next to the library. Be sure to watch at least part of the film – Alaska Far Away,  which is shown at the visitor center.

  The house has a ramp at the rear entrance. The path to it is gravel and grass-a little hard pushing. The first floor is all accessible. The visitor center is accessible. The paths in the park are paved and the signs are easy to read.

   RVs can be parked in the library lot which is across the road from the visitor center and a block away from the house.
  Visitor Center  House
61.59868, -149.10968
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lake Lucille Campground

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  We had this park almost to ourselves probably because it has very few amenities – vault toilets and no dump station, not even potable water. A dump station and water are available in Wasilla. The sites do have tables and fire rings.

 None of the sites are marked as handicapped. The tables do not have overhangs. Many of the tables are surrounded by roots but some are on the graveled parking pads. Loose, large gravel in some of the sites may make pushing around a little hard.

  Some of the sites are long and wide enough for any RV. Campground
  61.5679, -149.48028
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Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry

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  This museum has three parts – a large building with restored vehicles, planes, historic equipment and collections; a train with several cars that are opened to walk through and featuring good photographs of gold rush days and early trains; and a large outside area with hundreds of pieces of equipment.

  The building is all accessible. The train has a good ramp to the exhibits inside but several of the ramps between the cars are very steep and the doorways into the last couple of cars are too narrow for wheelchairs to fit through. The outside area has a graveled walk along the perimeter which isn’t too bad for pushing along but getting close enough to see many of the other pieces requires pushing through thick grass over lumpy ground. Most wheelchair users will need some help.

  The parking lot isn’t very big but large RVs can be parked along the road leading in. Museum
   61.57726, -149.54534
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Denali State Park Viewpoint South

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  Denali (or Mount McKinley) is somewhere behind the clouds in the center of the picture. We decided to skip Denali National Park on this trip. One of the reasons the national park was created was to protect the wildlife and the best way to do this is to limit access to the park.The park road is opened to private vehicles for the first fifteen miles.Various buses and bus tours are available so that people can experience the rest of the park – all the way to mile 92 if they wish which is a 13 hour round trip. To help preserve the wild nature of the park there are few trails but overland hiking is permitted.

  When we visited about ten years ago we applied for a special pass that allowed us to drive our motorhome farther than the fifteen mile limit. The buses have wheelchair lifts so you must have a good reason for needing to drive own vehicle. We also tried walking and rolling along the gravel road but the traffic and dust made that pretty uncomfortable. We did get to see a mother moose with her baby though.

  If you’re visiting Alaska and you have a limited amount of time definitely visit Denali. If you’re not handicapped and able to sit for a long bus ride and hike off trail, visit Denali. We’re satisfied driving by along the main road with all the gorgeous scenery (even if we didn’t see the mountain) and spotting wildlife along all the other Alaskan roads.

  The state park is south of the national park and the highway from Fairbanks to Anchorage goes through the center of it. It has several campgrounds and hiking trails.
State Park            National Park
62.59263, -150.23906
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

University of Alaska Museum of the North

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  This museum covers the vastly different lifestyles of the three Native American groups living in Alaska -the Athabascan of the interior, the Inuit of the north and the Tlingit of the southern coastal regions. Also included are native animals, fossils, artwork and a brief history of gold rushers and fur traders.Don’t miss the bison frozen in permafrost for 35,000 years!
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  The museum is all accessible.

  The parking lot has extra long spaces for RVs. Museum
  64.85843, -147.84151
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Tanana Valley Farmers Market

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  The words Alaska and farmers market don’t seem compatible but a lot of vegetables grow very well in the Alaskan interior. You won’t find peaches or melons but any root vegetable or cool weather lover such as lettuce, peas and broccoli grows wonderfully. Tomatoes are grown in greenhouses. The spiky thing is cauliflower.

  The farmers market has a small permanent building and a paved lot where the sellers set up their stands so it’s easy to roll around. The parking lot is packed dirt and gravel.

  The parking lot is fairly big but the market is popular so you may have to park on the outskirts if your RV is large. Market
64.86273, -147.78114
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center

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  Three organizations share this building- the visitors center, the public lands information center and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, Athabascan Native American group. The cultural center has very good exhibits about the lifestyle of modern Athabascans who live in the Alaskan interior.

   The center is handicapped accessible. One exhibit which features a short video about coal mining in Alaska is too high to view properly.

  The parking lot has plenty of room for RVs. Center
   64.84632, -147.71351

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UAF Large Animal Research Station

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  This is the University of Alaska’s research and education center focusing on muskoxen, caribou and reindeer. The muskoxen can be viewed for free from the parking lot but there’s also a guided tour for $10.00. A college student tour guide will coax the animals closer to the fencing with treats of willow branches and lichen. The tour lasts for about an hour and involves a short walk and talk about each of the animals.

  The path is covered in medium size loose gravel and has a slight slope. Pushing is very hard. Most wheelchair users will need to have some help.

  The parking area is large enough for any RV. Tour
  64.87764, -147.86919

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Pioneer Park

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  Pioneer Park was built in 1967 by the Pioneers of Alaska to celebrate Alaska’s centennial. It was given to the city of Fairbanks in 1968 and is now a wonderful city park with many small museums, a large playground, restaurants, shops, relocated historic buildings and paved trails. Most of the museums are free.

 The park is very accessible but it has some problems. There are a few steep ramps and the Wilkersham house has a step at the threshold. The air museum is so stuffed with displays that it’s impossible to maneuver through the minor exhibits. The riverboat has dioramas of all of the towns that it once served but many are too high to see from a seated position. There’s a high lip at the threshold to the engine room.

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  Parking for RVs is along the west side of the parking lot. You can stay overnight for $12.00, payable at the riverboat. Park
64.8393, -147.77521

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rika's Roadhouse - Big Delta State Historical Park

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  Big Delta Park centers around Rika’s roadhouse which was operated by Rika Wallen for twenty three years until 1940. The roadhouse provided food and shelter to gold rushers, hunters and other travelers along the Valdez-to-Fairbanks Trail.

  The first floor is opened to the public and furnished with local donations. There’s also a small cabin with museum exhibits, several out buildings and several buildings that housed an Army telegraph station. Interpretive signs are located along a self guided trail.

  The trail around the roadhouse is mostly hard packed dirt and small gravel-pushing is fairly easy. The buildings have ramps. The gravel on the section of trail leading through the telegraph station is loose and deep. Wheelchair users may need some help.

  The parking lot is large enough for any size RV. Roadhouse
   64.15452, -145.84213
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Mukluk Land

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  George and Beth Jacobs have gathered an assortment of Alaskan artifacts which are displayed rather haphazardly around their property. Construction equipment, old cars, huge generators and other large pieces are located along paths outside. A few buildings hold an mixture of smaller things, like a doll collection and hundreds of soda cans, no two alike. The Jacobs are very friendly and can answer any question about each the piece in their collection.

  Mukluk Land is not very accessible. There is a ramp to the admissions building but it has a high threshold at the entrance door.The group of buildings housing the snack bar, restrooms and doll collections has two ramps, a long porch and is all accessible. The main paths are covered with woodchips which makes pushing hard. Other areas don’t have paths and the grass is thick and the ground uneven.

  The parking lot is large enough for all RVs. Mukluk
   63.34204, -143.0804

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Rock Glacier Trail–Kluane National Park

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   This is a short two mile round trip trail that climbs onto the toe of a rock glacier. The first part is a boardwalk and wood chip trail. The second part is a scramble over large rocks to a view point.

  The trail is not handicapped accessible however the first section, which is all boardwalk, is a good way to visit a small part of a black spruce forest. There’s a slight step up to the boardwalk which has an uphill incline.There are no guards on the edges of the boardwalk so take care to not roll off.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Trail

Million Dollar Falls and Campground

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     A short trail starting at the campground loop leads to the falls and a nice view of the rapids.

   The trail isn’t accessible - large roots,hilly terrain and steps. The campground doesn’t have any sites marked as handicapped. The sites are fairly large and surfaced with gravel. No overhang on the tables.

The parking area for the falls and some of the campsites are large enough for any RV. Campgrounds
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