The Last Frontier: Alaska combines Utah Valley ties with top-notch adventure

Fishing alaska 2

Neal Dastrup and his family go fishing at the Alaskan Bear Lodge every year.

Utah County has world-class trout fishing, a lake full of species and reservoirs nearby that take any bait.

But for some, the grandeur of the Alaskan wilderness — and the vastness of the catch — makes a trip north a bucket-list item.

“Alaska is an amazing place,” says Neal Dastrup, who lives in Provo Canyon. “The beauty and openness of the land is difficult to describe. It’s pristine.”

After taking his first trip to Alaska a decade ago — catching halibut and salmon while enjoying the other wonders of the area — Neal was “all in” in Alaska. He bought 12 acres on the shores of the Excursion Inlet, about 35 miles west of the state capital in Juneau, and built the Alaskan Bear Lodge.

“We have family time each summer at the lodge, but we also welcome customers and clients,” says Neal, who owns Neal Dastrup Insurance.

For commercial clients coming to the lodge, the staff takes care of everything after Juneau. Clients arrive in the capital and then the lodge arranges for delivery via seaplane. Food is prepared by professional cooks, and the Alaskan Bear Lodge supplies boats, fishing gear, equipment and training.

fishing alaska“When they are all done with their catch, we fillet, box and freeze the fish for transport,” Neal says.

But the area is home to much more than world-class fishing. A World War II prisoner-of-war camp offers something for the history buff. The nearby wilderness provides all the wildlife and exploration one would imagine.

“We have a wide variety of groups that come up,” Neal says. “We have a lot of fathers-and-sons groups, daddy-daughter groups and have even had some groups made up of women wanting the adventure that comes from the area. It’s great for all types of groups.”

Granted, the fishing is what brings most Utah adventurers to the area. From the most popular salmon and halibut to less common rockfish and Pacific cod, the fishing is fun and the eating is delicious.

Neal has found that the best months to leave Utah and head to Alaska are July and August.

For more information on the Alaskan Bear Lodge, visit

Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at

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