From the road, you’d never see, or perhaps even find, the trails used by Alaska ATV Adventures—a big reason why this tour operator is able to give you the feeling of a remote wilderness adventure, even though you’re less than an hour from Anchorage.
Taking an all-terrain vehicle through the backcountry offers some great perks. Not only can you cover ground quicker than you do hiking (which, in Alaska, often requires a lot of tedious bushwhacking), but—let’s face it, this is a lot of fun.
Learn (and Have Fun) as You Go
Founded 14 years ago, Alaska ATV Adventures offer a variety of day trips around the state, but its main offerings are on trails near Girdwood—less than a half hour from the south side of Anchorage—where you can explore Alaska’s Pacific Costal Temperate Rainforest. Most people who take this tour have little or no experience with ATVs, but it doesn’t matter. The guides work hard to make these trips accessible for everyone, while still giving you plenty of time to pause and enjoy your up-close look at nature. Groups stay small—typically just 2 to 6 people—though they can do custom tours for as many as 25.
Steer (or Ride) to the Views
Its main offerings are two daily, 3-hour tours, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The guided tour starts with a quick primer on driving the ATV and you’ll be suited up with safety and raingear. If you don’t want to drive, you can also just sit and enjoy the ride: there are two-seater “quad bike” ATVs available —recommended for anyone between 8 and 15 years—and passengers just pay a discounted rate.
Then, you’ll ride across the Penguin River and up almost 1,000 feet to the high alpine meadows of Hidden Valley, and go to an overlook for views of Turnagain Arm (not to mention moose and eagles). If you want, you can also take a quick hike a quarter mile down to a spectacular waterfall, where you can see salmon spawning from mid June through September.
Rainforest Royalty: Bears
You won’t just see fish, either. Because you will be traveling deep in the Northernmost reaches of the rainforest, your guide will stop at a number of locations, whether it’s to point out wildlife or other photo ops, such as bear tracks. Indeed, salmon-loving bears get spotted on more than half of Alaska ATV’s tours, making this a very economical option for folks who want to see bears foraging in the wild, or just want some amazing photo ops.
Alaska ATV Adventures also does regular trips for fly-fishing near Homer and fishing for grayling in the Talkeetna Mountains during fish runs, as well as custom trips that can combine ATVs with gold mining, BBQs or overnight lodging.
No experience necessary.