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Sunday, August 3, 2008

GETTING THERE: Major air carriers offer connecting service from the Washington area to Anchorage. Round-trip fares start at about $450.

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WHERE TO STAY: The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge (800-426-0500, http://www.princesslodges.com/denali_lodge.cfm, ), outside Denali National Park, operates from mid-May through mid-September. Part of the Princess cruise line conglomerate, it has 656 rooms; $269 per night for double or single through Aug. 31, $179 Sept. 1-17. Our most beautiful lodging was Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, 30 miles south of Denali (Mile 12.5 Talkeetna Spur Rd., Talkeetna, 877-777-4067, http://www.talkeetnalodge.com). Rooms with a Mount McKinley view range from $219 to $429 (open through Sept. 30). At Seward Windsong Lodge (Exit Glacier/Herman Leirer Road, Seward, 877-777-4079, http://www.sewardwindsong.com), standard rooms are $139 to $239 (open through Sept. 15). The Land's End Resort (4786 Homer Spit Rd., Homer, 907-235-0400 or 800-478-0400, http://www.lands-end-resort.com) has rooms from $135 to $235 a night from mid-May through mid-September; from mid-September through February, rates drop to between $79 and $135.

WHAT TO DO: Alaska just may be the land of perpetual motion. There's kayaking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, "flightseeing" and plain old hiking. Lots of outfitters are listed on the Web site of the Milepost ( http://milepost.com), which dubs itself "since 1949, the bible of North Country Travel." For our horseback ride along Kachemak Bay and the Cook Inlet, we used Trails End Horse Adventures (53435 E. End Rd., Homer, 907-235-6393). Rates are $25 per person per hour for afternoon rides; four-hour morning rides along the beach are $85. By itself the Alaska SeaLife Center (Milepost 0 Seward Hwy., Seward, 888-378-2525, http://www.alaskasealife.org) was worth the trip. Admission is $20 for adults; ages 12 to 17, $15; ages 4 to 11, $10; up to age 3, free. Open daily through Sept. 15. The Talkeetna Air Taxi (907-733-2218, http://www.talkeetnaair.com) offers glacier landings and a choice of flights over Denali, from $190 per person; the company offers flights throughout the winter.

WHERE TO EAT: The organic restaurant 229 Parks (Mile 229.7 Parks Hwy., Denali Park, 907-683-2567, http://229Parks.com) was so good (rotisserie pheasant with polenta, $34; pan-seared wild Alaska weathervane scallops, $34) that we went back a second night and then bought chef Laura Cole's cookbook. We also liked the Homestead (Mile 8.2 E. End Rd., Homer, 907-235-8723, http://www.homesteadrestaurant.net), with its prime rib nights ($19 at 5 p.m.) and vegetarian menus.

INFO: State of Alaska Travel & Vacation Information, http://www.travelalaska.com, and the Milepost (see above).


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