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When it comes to exploring Alaska, cruising may be the preferred choice for many, but there are other ways to see the destination — such as driving the 1,500-mile Alaska Highway to find some of the state’s most incredible hidden gems. My two kids and I did exactly that as we embarked on an open-ended road trip. The opportunities to linger in towns we loved and ride the Alaska State Ferry to destinations unknown were too good to pass up.
Two thousand miles of driving, one ferry ride to Kodiak Island and one floatplane ride later, our adventurous spirits landed us in Uyak Bay, an inlet only 45 minutes from Kodiak Island by air. While we expected to see the island’s famous Kodiak bears, one of the largest bears alive today, we truly had no idea what awaited us.
We climbed into kayaks with a guide and paddled into a small river system. Here, we spotted our first Kodiak bear scooping salmon out of the river. As we floated silently along, the sound of the bear’s jaws devouring the live fish carried across the water. What made this moment so unique was that the four of us were the only humans present. We continued down the river and came to rest on a bank where, mere moments later, we were joined by a mother bear and her two cubs.
Over the next few days, we encountered sea lions, fished for halibut and salmon for dinner and watched a pod of orcas frolic and play. It was in these magical moments that I knew that even at their young age, my two adventurers would never forget our visit to Uyak Bay.