I first heard the phrase “accessible wilderness” about 25 years ago from my friend Jerry. He used it in reference to the northern Wisconsin retreat where we rented cabins with our families on a regular basis. The cabins were in the heart of great fishing for bass, walleyes and muskies, and adjoined a wilderness preserve with old growth forest and the kettle lakes that I described in the post titled Teach Someone to Fish. We used the term "accessible" in the sense of being able to get there by car from Chicago and to enjoy it with our families, including our young children, not in the narrower contemporary meaning of compatibility with wheelchairs and physical disabilities.
I have set up a new website called Accessible Wilderness, which describes wilderness experiences in Alaska that are reasonably accessible, in our original usage of the term, by road from Anchorage. The principal areas of focus are the Chugach Mountains, the Kenai Peninsula and Denali National Park. Here's the link: www.AccessibleWilderness.com.
Because I have spent a fair amount of time fishing, hiking and generally hanging out in Alaska, I find that people often ask me for ideas when they are planning vacations there. About ten years ago, I first wrote down some suggestions for what friends could do if they had the good fortune to be heading north to Alaska, especially on a first-time visit.
These notes evolved over time. In the beginning, they were circulated just among my personal friends. Eventually, they became a pamphlet that a conservation organization used as a tool for engaging supporters, and those who might become supporters, in a dialogue about Alaska. The pamphlet was a conversational ice breaker with residents of the lower 48 states who might have an interest in conservation in Alaska.
The new website is the latest incarnation of my personal notes. Making highly subjective selections, it includes a sample itinerary for a two-week visit to Alaska. This trip makes stops in Anchorage and Fairbanks, but really focuses on getting visitors out of the cities and into the maritime environment of Kachemak Bay as well as the sub-arctic ecosystem of Denali National Park. They will likely see many of the iconic animals that live in Alaska and will get a good taste for the diversity of its wilderness areas.
I assume that the site's readers would be planning a family vacation, not a heavy-duty wilderness camping expedition, and would like to be supported by some creature comforts and a fairly high degree of infrastructure on the trip. The suggestions are eminently “do-able” for people, especially families, covering a wide range of ages and general fitness levels, but they are not geared toward those with significant disabilities or limitations on personal mobility.
There is some risk of "brand confusion" from creating a new website, with a different name, rather than simply a page within the existing Northern Passages site. However, the Accessible Wilderness content is more vacation oriented than the Northern Passages blog and website, and I thought it was important to keep them separate, although I have cross-linked them.
Northern Passages seeks to explore the ethics and esthetics of conservation and wilderness. Its focus is on Alaska, to be sure, but it aspires to themes of broader applicability. To experience and appreciate one wilderness region is to care about wilderness everywhere.
In contrast, Accessible Wilderness has the more limited goal of being a helpful planning guide for vacation travel in Alaska. Accepting that limitation, I hope you will call the site to the attention of any friends and connections who are thinking about visiting the last frontier.