The beautiful vast expanse of Alaska is America’s final frontier. As the largest state with a relatively low population in comparison, Alaska is where travelers go to really experience the wild beauty of nature. If you’re a nature lover, Alaska will surely take your breath away.
You’d need a lifetime to be able to truly explore all that Alaska has to offer, but just a taste of this great state will be enough to understand what it’s all about. For travelers interested in a scenic trip, Alaska has plenty to offer from Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest point, to Glacier Bay, the majestic national park and preserve.
Denali National Park
This expansive national park is where you’ll find North America’s highest mountain, Mt. McKinley, called by the native Athabasca Indian’s, Denali. Denali National Park, a vast area of six million acres, is also home to some of Alaska’s most famous and often considered most dangerous wildlife.
While in Denali National Park, enjoy the visitor center, hiking or walking, sled dog demonstrations, and endless opportunities to take in the spectacular vistas. Denali is best seen over several days and lodging is available inside the park and just outside the entrance, but ambitious travelers may choose to camp in Denali.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay is the home of glaciers which date back more than 115,000 years. Ice isn’t the only thing you’ll see at Glacier Bay though; the endless snow-capped peaks give way to beaches, freshwater lakes, and an ecosystem that supports a wide range of marine and land animals.
Glacier Bay is best seen as part of an organized boat tour or by kayak as it cannot be accessed by road. Cruise ships and small boat tours make regular stops at Glacier Bay.
Historic Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad, running from Seward to North Pole and passing through Anchorage, Denali, and Fairbanks is a great way to see some of the untouched beauty and faraway places of Alaska. This historic railroad is truly one of a kind, being the only railroad in North America to still use cabooses on freight trains, and the only to have flag stop service. Flag stop service, like the name implies, requires passengers in remote villages to literally wave or “flag” the train to stop as it passes through some areas, from Talkeetna to Hurricane, where in some stretches homes are only accessible by railway.
Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only facility in Alaska that combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response. While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state.
See a sea lion gliding past underwater viewing windows, puffins diving in a carefully crafted naturalistic habitat, and harbor seals resting on rocky beaches and engage your senses at the Discovery touch tank. Observe the Chiswell Island Exhibit.
The Northern Lights
The aurora borealis, a breathtaking natural phenomenon that is often called the Northern Lights, transforms the night sky into a swirl of color and it is often quite intense in parts of Alaska. The best time to visit to catch a glimpse of the light show is from late August to mid April. Fairbanks is a prime location for aurora viewing and a great place for tourists to get information about the lights and even take an aurora sighting tour.
Top Things to do in Alaska
The Anchorage Museum is a large art, history, ethnography, ecology and science museum located in a modern building in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska. It is dedicated to studying and exploring the land, people, art and history of Alaska. The museum displays material from its permanent collection, along with regular visiting exhibitions.
The state’s largest museum includes the Alaska History Gallery, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, science exhibits, shop and full-service restaurant. Its collections offer an overview of the Alaska’s rich history and an introduction to its varied culture.
Just south of Anchorage is this beautiful strip of land surrounded by the Cook Inlet to the west and the Prince William Sound to the east. Often called “Alaska’s playground,” Kenai is where you can see real Alaska up close. The 15,000 square miles of land that make up the peninsula are known for breathtaking scenery and excellent salmon and halibut fishing. Popular ways to tour the Kenai Peninsula include flying over the Harding Ice Field or driving to Exit Glacier. Tours of the Kenai fjords are also a popular way to see this unique landscape.
Katmai National Park and Preserve
One of Alaska’s most famous National Parks is the Katmai National Park and Reserve where you’ll find scenery that might not normally come to mind when you think of Alaska. The park was created in 1918 after the eruption of the Novarupta Volcano. The eruption created a 40 square mile ash flow from 100 to 700 feet deep. This area, now called the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a popular tourist destination.
The Katmai National Park and Preserve is also the home of approximately 900 prehistoric human dwellings, more than any other location in North America, and it’s a prime location for bear viewing.
University of Alaska Museum of the North
The University of Alaska Museum of the North is housed on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The museum’s research collections of 1.4 million artifacts and specimens represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions.
Exhibits include a 2,000-year spectrum of Alaska art, from ancient ivory carvings to contemporary paintings and sculpture, in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery; the state’s largest public display of gold and Blue Babe, a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison, in the Gallery of Alaska.
The Chilkoot Trail
One of Alaska’s many famous historical routes is the Chilkoot Trail a trail made popular during the Klondike Gold Rush over 100 years ago. The 33 mile trail extends from the coast of Dyea, in Alaska to Lake Bennett in British Columbia. The Chilkoot Trail is a popular attraction for tourists of all types.
Aside from its historical importance, the hike is known for its diverse climate zones beginning in a coastal temperate forest, passing through sub alpine and alpine zones, before terminating in a sub boreal forest.
Things to do in Alaska
Alaska, in many ways, lives up to its nickname as America’s last frontier. On a trip to Alaska you can enjoy the wild beauty of this untouched land in a thousand different ways. Some of Alaska’s best sights and activities can be explored from the big cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Alaska is also where you’ll find a few unique events like the Iditarod race and historical route, the historical railway, and of course it’s the perfect location for sighting the magnificent Northern Lights.