The Alaska Cruise Ship Industry is (roughly) forecasting a record 1.6 million tourists in 2022. That would be an increase of 18% over the previous record 1.3 million in 2019.
After two disastrous years due to the pandemic, I can see why the industry is desperate for a good year. But record breaking? That seems like a stretch, and might be a bit premature.
Will people be traveling at that level in 2022? Can the cruise ships, and more importantly, the small coastal businesses find the staff to handle those kind of numbers? 2022 will no doubt remain an interesting travel year within the 49th State.
A de Havilland Beaver (DHC-2), flying out of Talkeetna on a flight seeing tour of Denali National Park, tragically crashed near the summit of Thunder Mountain on August 4. The crash site is roughly 14 miles from Denali’s peak.
There were four tourists from Poland on board, as well as the pilot. Initially, word spread that several people on board survived the crash, but that is not the case. All five in the de Havilland perished.
Heavy cloud cover hampered efforts to reach the site in the days right after the crash. The National Park Service eventually was able to send out two crews in helicopters. The first was to check for survivors, and the second was to evaluate the scene for possible recovery. Park rangers were dropped by cable to the broken Beaver, which lay precariously on the mountain side.
After accessing the risk, The National Park Service came to the conclusion Friday, that any attempt to recover the five bodies in the plane would put the rescue crews in too much danger. One look at the photos show why. The Beaver is broken behind the wing, and the tail section is pulling the entire plane down. It’s a 3500 foot drop to the glacier below. Since the crash, 30 inches of snow has fallen, driving up the risk of avalanche.
On Friday, I spent some time downtown, and overheard several tourists complain about the NPS decision. I get why they thought that way, but I respectfully disagree. The risk to a recovery crew would be too great, and as tough as it is to hear it, NPS made the right call.
Alaska covers over 590,000 square miles of the most beautiful and diverse country on the planet, has over 3.5 million lakes of at least 20 acres, almost 34,000 miles of tidal coastline, and over 100,000 glaciers.
Alaska is the home of: Denali, at 20,320′ it is the highest peak in North America; Wrangell-St Elias; several active volcanoes; over 12,000 rivers including the Mighty Yukon; five species of salmon; and 445 species of birds.
The state boasts populations of 13,000 trumpeter swans, 30,000 grizzlies, 35,000 bald eagles, 70,000 sea otters, 900,000 caribou and over 140 million sea birds, yet with a human population of just over 700,000.
Folks, that’s a lot of elbow room.
With all that said, the demand to “camp” in the local Wal-Mart parking lot has become so great, that the retail store has designated a good percentage of their lot to official pull-through RV parking.
What the hell is up with that? People come to Alaska to “camp” on asphalt? I’m beside myself with confusion.