Sunday, June 24, 2012

Eklutna Iris Fields

No, this is not a field in a botanical garden.  Here, in Alaska, nature doesn't need any help. 

I've been jonesing to take pictures of the iris fields since I found out about them last year when they were already past season. So I waited twelve long months...They are only in bloom the last two weeks of June and maybe a week into July, so the window to see them is small.

On the most fabulously sunny day, we headed out that way. 
This pic is Christmas card worthy, dontcha think?

Going southbound, there is a small turnout you can pull off small that going 65mph on the Glenn, it is easily missed.  Keep an eye out for it once you spot the sign for the Eklutna Exit, 1 mile and it should be there just a little ways. There's only space for two cars to park there, and that's if the car parked there beforehand was courteous enough to leave space and not hog the middle. Immediately off the road, there is a trail that leads west, into the fields and out into the Cook Inlet. 

There is no searching involved to find these fields. Like I've mentioned before, you can spot them from the road. There are fields and fields of these purple beauties EVERYWHERE.

 There are the more commonly seen wild prickly roses in full bloom as well.

 The chocolate lilies are starting to make their debut for the summer.

 There were big patches of shooting stars further in from the road.

A sign that the kids have had enough of the camera...they just start goofing off. 

We packed up the camera equipment, climbed into the car, and stopped at the Eklutna Historical Village (off Eklutna exit). Admission is $5 per adult and $2.50 for 12-18 yr olds.  Younger ones are free. It's a small place, featuring the charming Russian Orthodox Church below. It is the oldest building in the greater Anchorage area.

More interesting, though, is its cemetery.  Originally a Dena'ina Athabascan native tribe, Russian missionaries arrived in Eklutna and influenced their practices, to include the way they interred their dead.  Instead of tombstones to mark their places, colorful "spirit houses" lie atop the graves. 

After a bit of exploring, and Livy making it known she was done with the day's activities, we finally headed home.

Note: If you are looking to explore the Eklutna Flats as we have, please be aware that picking the flowers and digging up plants to take home and plant in your own gardens is ILLEGAL.  Please respect the beauty in front of you and step carefully so as to not disturb the vegetation.  Also, there have been bear sightings in the area, but closer to the coast (which is fine, since you needn't walk that far anyway). Take bear bells, bear spray, and perhaps a firearm (we didn't) just in case.

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