18 October 2021

Alaska: All-Around Amazing

Written by: David Castro

I’m back with more about Alaska!

As a Communications Fellow, I am proud to work with the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS-RTCA), via the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF). In September 2021, I travelled to The Last Frontier for a team trip with my coworker Alisson Vera, the other HAF Communications Fellow in my office.

The day after landing, we connected with Zach Babb, the Program Manager for the Alaska Region of NPS-RTCA. He was our supervisor and an awesome guide throughout the state! Heading east from Anchorage for three hours to grab lunch in Glennallen, two hours later was Valdez to the south. Although it drizzled, the rain did not put a damper on the afternoon because of the first up-close wildlife sighting, sea lions!

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Sea lions hunting for salmon near the Solomon Gulch Hatchery in Valdez.

Three hours north of Glennallen, Delta Junction was the destination the following day. As its name suggests, the city is not far from where the Delta River and the Tanana River join together. The team met with the Delta Junction Trails Association (DJTA), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the trail system and green spaces in the area to link the community and to enrich the lives of residents. Exploring the Liewer Community Trail, the upcoming Delta River Walk Park and the Bluff Cabin Trail were also sights to behold. For almost a decade, the partnership has seen NPS-RTCA put forth a great effort to help DJTA engage with locals to outline the future of many trails.

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Here with Zach hiking the Bluff Cabin Trail near Delta Junction.

Day three of the drive was east for three and a half hours to the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, deep in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. In the early 20th Century, copper ore was extracted from the mines in the mountains, and the mill town processed it. Almost $200 million worth of copper was processed overall. Nowadays the General Store and Post Office have exhibits and the short film “The Kennecott Mill” to learn about the extensive operation. Luckily the shuttle to and from the landmark was functioning, since it was the final day of the tourist season.

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Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Walking and biking around Anchorage over the weekend, there were plenty of places to find delicious food and drink, including tasty salmon chowder and flavorful wild blueberry soda. Good spots to pause along the coast are Earthquake Park and near the airport to watch airplanes take off and land. Animals were abundant such as belugas, and in Whittier there was Dall’s porpoise and a personal favorite, sea otters!

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View of the Anchorage skyline from Earthquake Park along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Stay tuned for the next post, focused on Week Two when the team journeyed to Homer!

Bye for now,


Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - DC Field Office

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