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 or visit www.TravelAlaska.com/media for more information.
December 13, 2011

In this December Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. The stars have aligned for aurora viewing in 2012
2. Camp Denali Celebrates 60 years
3. Winter markets heat up around Alaska
Alaska Sea Adventures offering winter cruises

1.  The stars have aligned for aurora viewing in 2012

Scientists are predicting an increase in sunspot activity this winter and continuing into 2013, and this means more active, colorful aurora during the normal viewing season. Some sources are forecasting that 2012 could see the most vibrant display in 50 years. Due to northern Alaska’s location in the auroral zone and with so many viewing options — from evening dog sled rides and snowshoe hikes to Arctic Circle expeditions, remote lodges or natural hot springs — Alaska travelers are sure to have a front row seat for viewing the northern lights. Alaska’s peak aurora season extends from late August to late April, though sightings can occur all year. Many hotels in Alaska offer aurora wake-up calls, and travelers can always check the online aurora forecast in advance of their trip at http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast.

Media contact:
Contact: Amy Hartley, Geophysical Institute
Phone: 907-474-5823
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/UAF-Geophysical-Institute/116012105143046
Email: amy.hartley@gi.alaska.edu
URL: www.gi.alaska.edu

2. Camp Denali Celebrates 60 years
In June 2012, one of the only four lodges located at the end of the 90-mile Denali Park Road will reflect on more than a half century of sharing Denali National Park and Preserve with visitors. Four generations have lived and worked at Camp Denali since the property was first homesteaded in 1951 and the lodge is still family owned and operated today. To commemorate the 60th anniversary, Camp Denali will host visitors who worked at the camp in its early years as part of the Special Emphasis Series, June 4-7. Guests can reach Camp Denali via the lodge’s private buses, enjoying wildlife sightings and views of Mount McKinley along the way. Or they can opt for a short plane ride from the park’s entrance. Travelers who can’t wait until June to visit Denali can join the Denali Winterfest celebration Feb. 24-26 for dog mushing, snowshoe hikes, skiing and more. For more information on Camp Denali, visit www.campdenali.com. To learn more about Denali Winterfest, go to http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/winterfest.htm.

Media contact:
Contact: Anne Beaulaurier, Camp Denali and North Face Lodge
Phone: 907-683-2290
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/campdenaliandnorthfacelodge
Email: anne@campdenali.com
URL: www.campdenali.com

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

3. Winter markets heat up around Alaska

Just because snow now covers the ground in Alaska doesn’t mean that visitors can’t continue to enjoy Alaska-grown foods. While summer and fall are peak seasons for enjoying the state’s rich (and enormous) produce, many foods are available year-round at grocery stores, farmers markets and local grocery stores throughout the state — a person just has to know where to look. For the second year, one indoor farmers market is operating during winter, offering staple items such as winter vegetables, meats, seafood and dairy products as well as indulgences such as honey, jams, mushrooms and spices (www.thecentermarket.com). Farther north in Fairbanks, the Home Grown Market (www.alaskahomegrown.com) also sells a variety of local meats, vegetables and dairy. There’s even a weekly newspaper column dedicated to keeping readers informed on Alaska products and where they’re available: www.adn.com/market-fresh. For more information on Alaska Grown products, visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag.

Media Contacts:
Contact: Amy Pettit, Division of Agriculture
Phone: 907-761-3846
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dnr.alaskagrown
Email: amy.pettit@alaska.gov
URL: http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag

4. Alaska Sea Adventures offering winter cruises

Private yacht or small-ship cruises offer a flexible, customizable alternative to large cruise ships and the option to explore in the winter isn’t off the map. Alaska Sea Adventures, in Petersburg, Alaska, offers a variety of trips from September through May, outside the typical cruise season. In November and December, weeklong, guided photography trips on the 10-passenger M/V Northern Song allow travelers the chance to view the pre-migration gathering of humpback whales in Seymour Canal. Beginning in late March, trips take travelers to witness the spring spawning of pacific herring, an event essential to the existence of almost all the marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. The outcome of the spawning is a feeding frenzy of eagles diving from the treetops by the thousands, seals and Steller sea lions rushing through the tremendous schools of herring and humpback whales demonstrating a variety of foraging techniques, including the fascinating cooperative “bubble-net” feeding behavior. For more information on winter and spring cruises with Alaska Sea Adventures, visit www.yachtalaska.com.

Media Contacts:
Contact: Dennis Rogers, Alaska Sea Adventures
Phone: 907-772-4700
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alaska-Sea-Adventures/82664606616
Email: dennis@yachtalaska.com
URL: www.yachtalaska.com

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Want to see what the aurora borealis looks like from space? This video features a time-lapse sequence of photos shot by the crew of the International Space Station from August to October 2011. http://vimeo.com/32001208
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