Alaska is like no other state in the union, and travelers will go to great lengths for a chance to visit The Last Frontier. If that means getting your nose picked by a government worker, mad scientist or 19-year-old college student, so be it. If your really want to know, Ketchikan is just 688 air miles, but the nasopharyngeal swab is six inches.
Companies like Chinook Shores Lodge, Clover Pass Resort, Knudson Cove Marina, Coffman Cove Adventures, Sea Otter Sound Lodge and Salmon Falls market their destinations and tours year-round to sell trips and fill their booking calendars. Their products and brands to attract anglers from all over the world. Many come just for the halibut, but the fact that Ketchikan is known as The Salmon Capital of the World also helps.
Fishing lodges host independent travelers, in contract to cruise ship passengers, these people stay a minimum of three nights. In cities like Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, lodges are accessible by Alaska and Delta airlines. The more remote lodges require an additional flight on a smaller plane like Taquan Air.
The cancelled cruise ship season ruined the Alaska dream vacations for one million visitors this year, yet thousands of independent travelers found a way to keep their 2020 reservations. Key was the lifting of the State of Alaska travel ban in June which allowed visitors to fly into town. The only stipulation was that non-residents had to arrive in Alaska with a negative or pending-negative test result, or quarantine for 14 days.
The challenge during a pandemic is that testing can be hard to come by as doctors and clinics save the tests for people who have been exposed or show symptoms. If you’re asymptomatic and traveling for pleasure, you might not be able to get tested.
A work around for those who did not have access to testing in their home towns was to get tested upon arrival. At first airports offered free COVID-19 testing at sites strategically located to service airline arrivals, ultimately they ended up charging $250 per person (young or old).
At-home testing offered the best solution for lodges looking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avoid cancellations. Alaska accepts FDA-approved at-home collection kits such as Pixel by LabCorp, Picture by Fulgent Genetics and Everlywell. The at-home collection kits cost about $119. Chinook Shores Lodge reimbursed guests who arrived with test results in hand.
Chinook Shores Lodge is open June 1 – October 1.