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    An Epic Week in Alaska
    Just back from a family trip to Alaska, AFAR’s audience development specialist, Samantha Juda, shares her most memorable moments—from a glacial ice cave in Juneau to hikes in Haines. Check out her most Instagram-worthy travel moments throughout the year at @slam_antha, and don’t forget to follow @afarmedia for more travel inspiration.
    Samantha Juda
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    Haines, Alaska
    “A number of years ago, my family discovered that a mountain in Haines, Alaksa, is named after a relative, Sol Ripinski (my great, great, granduncle to be exact). Every year on July 4th, the town hosts a race up Mount Ripinski, followed by many small-town celebrations in honor of the country’s independence. This year, for the first time ever, my family decided to venture north to Alaska, retracing Sol’s steps, in search of his legacy.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Mount Roberts, Juneau
    “Our time in Alaska began in Juneau, with a quick ride up a gondola and a hike on Mount Roberts. The views were amazing, with some of the most vibrant greens and deepest blues I have ever seen. We had the most delicious (and greasy) fish and chips at The Hangar for a post-hike bite to eat.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Fast Ferry to Haines
    “The ‘Fast Ferry’ is not necessarily fast, but it is the easiest way to get to Haines, a small waterfront town two hours north of Juneau. From the boat we saw whales (!) and sweeping views of the bay.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Battery Point, Haines
    “This was my favorite hike of the trip. The trail is a bit outside of town in the beautiful Alaskan rain forest (we walked to it, but I would recommend getting a ride if you can). Not only was the trail really well maintained, but the view once you leave the tree-covered trail is incredible. Looking back, you could see the whole town of Haines and Mount Ripinski, as well as the entire bay full of bright teal water. ”

    “One of my favorite parts about exploring Alaska in the summertime was that it never got dark—so a walk at 5 p.m. was similar to one in the early afternoon or morning. Lots of daylight time to explore means more opportunities to nap in the sunshine, too.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Haines Brewery + Port Chilkoot Distillery
    “For a small town, Haines has a lot of offer in terms of beverages. The Haines Brewing Company features seven or eight of its own beers on tap, including the seasonal Ryepinski Porter (a family favorite!). The local Port Chilkoot Distillery, near Fort Seward, has delicious spirits hand-crafted in the building. I’d definitely recommend stopping by for a drink before dinner at the Fireweed restaurant next door (a local favorite).”
    Samantha Juda
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    Hammer Museum
    “The Hammer Museum is a fun, quirky museum worth a quick stop. It’s the first museum dedicated to the hammer, and owner Dave Pahl showcases a portion of his collection of hammers—only 2,000 of his 7,000—with toy hammers, giant hammers, decorative hammers, and more. If you’re lucky, you may catch Dave in the front yard showing off his hand-made hammer contraption pound a computer or telling the story of how he built his hammer bike statue.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Chilkoot Lake
    “Because Haines is so small, we decided not to rent a car for our time there; however, we did rent scooters for a day to explore a bit further outside the town than our legs could take us. Our first stop on the scooters was Chilkoot Lake, about 10 miles outside of town. The ride to the lake was incredible, as we drove along the Lutak Inlet, Chilkoot River, and eventually ended at the lake. We watched people and bald eagles attempt to catch salmon and walked around the lake a bit before scootering back into town for lunch.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Chilkat State Park
    “After lunch, we rode the scooters out to Chilkat State Park along one of the most beautiful roads I have ever driven. Our journey took us around the bay, eventually stopping at a local art gallery with a perfect view of Rainbow Glacier. We were advised not to ride the scooters down a steep gravel road, so we ended up venturing out the next day with a car to hike to Moose Meadow. Although we didn’t see any moose, we did see more incredible lakes and glaciers.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Juneau Fish Hatchery
    “Thanks to a tip from our cab driver, the best place to see bald eagles in their natural habitat in Juneau is outside the local fish hatchery. With salmon jumping out of the water, sea lions swimming down below, and eagles flying above, we sat and enjoyed the view for a few hours.”
    Samantha Juda
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    Mendenhall Glacier
    “Our final day in Juneau, we toured the Mendenhall Glacier with Beyond Alaska. The tour began with an hour-long canoe trip on Mendenhall Lake, past Nugget Falls, followed by a hike on top of the glacier. After exploring the glacier from above, we were lucky enough to have the perfect weather conditions to venture into a glacial moulin, or giant cavelike tunnel carved by meltwater. I have never experienced anything quite like this, and it truly felt like we were on another planet.”
    Samantha Juda
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How to Have an Epic Week in Alaska

From spotting bald eagles to the best fish ’n’ chips you'll ever have, here’s how an AFAR staffer did her trip to Alaska.