Welcome to the State of Alaska Travel News Bulletin. The tourism office sends this out periodically to keep media up-to-date on Alaska tourism and travel news. Media are invited to call 800-327-9372 www.TravelAlaska.com/media for more information.

May 3, 2012

In this May Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. Katmai’s centennial celebration sure to be a blast
2. New ferry connects Alaska’s rainforest islands
3. Sitka opens dock to large cruise ships
4. Historic lodge reopens in time for fishing season

1. Katmai’s centennial celebration sure to be a blast
2012 marks the centennial celebration of the eruption of the Novarupta volcano -- the largest of the 20th century. The fury of nature unleashed on June 6, 1912, creating what is now known as the Valley of Ten Thousands Smokes, a 40-square-mile, 700-foot-deep ash flow of once vibrantly steaming cracks and fissures. The attraction led to the establishment of Katmai National Park and Preserve, a world-famous destination for brown bear viewing and fishing. Centennial celebration activities are planned across the state throughout 2012 to commemorate the historic event. The Alaska Public Lands Information Center will be offering interdisciplinary volcano-themed lectures June through August in Anchorage (www.alaskahistoricalsociety.org; www.alaskacenters.gov); the Alaska Historical Society and Museums Alaska will discuss the significance of the 1912 eruption during a session of their joint annual conference in Sitka, Oct. 10-13 (www.alaskahistoricalsociety.org); and Katmai National Park and Preserve is working on a major film about the Valley of Ten Thousands Smokes, which will debut at the Bear Tooth Theater in Anchorage in September of 2012. For more information about visiting Katmai, go to www.nps.gov/katm/index.htm.

Media contacts:
Contact: Katie Ringsmuth, Alaska Historical Society
Phone: 907-644-3467
Email: KatmaiKate@aol.com
URL: www.alaskahistoricalsociety.org

Contact: Christina Neal, Alaska Volcano Observatory
Phone: 907-786-7458
Email: tneal@usgs.gov
URL: www.avo.alaska.edu

Contact: John Quinley, National Park Service
Phone: 907-644-3512
Twitter: @AlaskaNPS
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AlaskaNPS
Email: John_Quinley@nps.gov
URL: www.nps.gov/alaska
 

2. New ferry connects Alaska’s rainforest islands
A new ferry service is in the works for Alaska's rainforest islands. Stretching out through the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, the rainforest islands offer access to glaciers, mountains, ancient forests and caves and is a destination known for fishing and bear viewing opportunities. The 70-passenger, 14-vehicle ferry features an observation deck, recliner lounge, coffee shop and food and beverage service. It will connect Wrangell, Petersburg (via South Mitkof) and Prince of Wales Island (via Coffman Cove) four days a week, with additional service to Ketchikan (via Saxman) three days a week. Throughout the winter, service will be maintained three days a week between Wrangell, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales Island. The Rainforest Islands Ferry will also provide transportation between ferry terminals and towns on both Prince of Wales and Mitkof islands as well as to connecting points for recreational opportunities for travelers without a vehicle.  For more information visit www.rainforestislandsferry.com.

Media contact:
Contact: Heather Hedges, Rainforest Islands Ferry
Phone: 907-329-2233
Email: heather@ccalaska.com
URL: www.rainforestislandsferry.com

3. Sitka opens dock to large cruise ships
Sitka is prepared to take on large cruise ships with a new deep-water dock completed last summer by locally owned Halibut Point Marine Services. Old Sitka Dock, named for nearby Old Sitka State Historic Site, will allow cruise companies without the ability to tender passengers to shore to call on Sitka. Currently, tender boats are the only way to get passengers traveling on large cruise ships into town. Ships who already call on Sitka can also use the dock to make transfers to shore quicker. It will now be easier to visit Sitka’s top attractions, such as the Sitka National Historical Park, fishing charters, kayaking and wildlife-viewing tours, hiking, Native and Russian historical sites and more. In 2011, approximately 883,000 cruise passengers visited Alaska, 127,224 of them stopping in Sitka. For more information on traveling to Sitka, go to www.sitka.org.

Media Contacts:
Contact: Chris McGraw, Halibut Point Marine Services
Phone: 907-738-9011
Email: chris@halibutpointmarine.com
URL: www.halibutpointmarine.com
 
Contact: Tonia Rioux, Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: 907-747-5940
Email: sitkacvb@gmail.com
URL: www.sitka.org
 

4. Historic lodge reopens in time for fishing season
Closed since 2010, historic Gwin's Lodge in Cooper Landing will reopen this spring with new owners, renovations and menus. Located along the Sterling Highway near the confluence of two world-class salmon streams, the Kenai River and the Russian River, this history of Gwin’s Lodge predates statehood. It originally opened in 1952 as a retreat for anglers in the small town, which had just 100 residents at the time. The lodge has 12 newly renovated cabins, which can each hold four-six guests, and two cottage houses that can each accommodate up to eight guests. For the 2012 season, Gwin’s Lodge will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner — presenting traditional favorites from the lodge’s original days such as smoked salmon chowder, halibut sandwiches, homemade pies and more. Along with fishing for salmon and trout, guests can enjoy rafting, gold panning, kayaking, fly-in bear viewing, horseback riding and more. Gwin’s Lodge will be open May 25 through mid-October 2012. For more information, visit www.gwinslodge.com.

Media Contact:
Contact: Charlotte Bright, Gwin’s Lodge
Phone: 907-595-1226
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Gwins-Lodge
Email: office@gwinslodge.biz
URL: www.gwinslodge.com
 

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