Many people's first associations with Alaska are extreme cold, gloomy skies, and mountains of powdery snow. However, Alaska is the place to go if you're seeking adventure. In this enormous, rocky state, one can find some of North America's most stunning and varied scenery. The state of Alaska is known for its untamed beauty, unique wildlife, and quaint beach communities, to name just a few attractions. This far-off paradise is a delight for those willing to travel there because many destinations are only reachable by plane or water.
Beautiful glaciers, a thriving Native American culture, and incredible vistas of the aurora borealis will be your reward. Aside from being the country's largest state, Alaska also boasts stunning natural beauty, rare and fascinating fauna, and a rich cultural heritage that most Americans are unfamiliar with. So, here are the 20 best places to visit in Alaska.
20. The Northern Lights and Chena Hot Springs
A trip to Chena Hot Springs with the Northern Lights epitomizes what the Arctic is all about. Visitors on this exclusive tour have the chance to soak in Fairbanks's soothing natural hot springs before setting out in a small group to search for the Northern Lights with a knowledgeable guide. Although the guides can't promise it, traveling with an expert hunter gives you the best chance to see the Northern Lights! According to Via Travelers, this is one of the best spots to visit in Alaska because of the Northern Lights, which offer unparalleled beauty.
As the self-proclaimed "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World," Homer offers some of the finest sportfishing in all of Alaska. The coal industry was the original impetus for the development of this charming community. There's a good reason it's regarded as one of Alaska's top tourist destinations. Although sportfishing has made Homer famous worldwide, the city also offers various other exciting activities. Popular activities and attractions in Alaska include bear viewing tours, destination weddings, and kayaking. One of "America's Best Small Art Towns," the scenic location is renowned for its creative atmosphere. Visit one of the twelve exquisite art galleries in the Homer area.
18. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
The stunning Lake Clark National Park and Preserve exhibits a variety of Alaskan landscapes all in one place. Lake Clark, 100 miles south of Anchorage, is surrounded by alpine tundras, glacier lakes, two volcanoes, and rushing rivers. The most recent eruption of the 10,000-foot Mountain Redoubt occurred only in 1989. Lake Clark can only be reached by air or sea, like other isolated regions of Alaska. A native brown bear hunting for salmon in one of the lakes can be seen from the air on a scenic bear flight between May and September.
17. Columbia Glacier
The Columbia glacier is easily accessible by boat from the Valdez harbor in Prince William Sound. The glacier's thickness reaches 550 meters at its thickest, spreading across an area of 400 square kilometers. It starts in the Chugach Mountains and travels for 32 kilometers until arriving at Columbia Bay. Since 1982, this beautiful glacier's retreat has been dramatic, with daily ice losses of 13 million tons. Some of the calving chunks are so large that they threaten the tourist boats that have come to see the event. The face of the glacier can reach heights of up to 400 feet. This would be such a treat for one to be part of.
16. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
The gold rush to the Klondike is an essential chapter in Alaska's story. A remnant of the era is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. The Skagway–Fraser–Carcross–Whitehorse Narrow Gauge Railroad was initially constructed for the mining industry. According to Getting Stamped, passengers take in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape as they travel over trestles, tunnels, mountains, and glaciers. To ride the rails here is to have a one-of-a-kind encounter with the Alaskan landscape and engineering, as the railroad itself is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
15. Kenai Fjords National Park
In the vicinity of Seward, the Kenai Fjords region offers 607,000 acres of snow, ice, long fjords, calm bays, and coves. It also has a variety of animals, such as sea otters, black bears, harbor seals, mountain goats, and coyotes. The park's main treasure, the enormous 936-square-mile Harding Icefield, lines the perimeter of the snow- and ice-covered 60 percent of the area. It sustains about 30 glaciers that flow from the mountains as a relic of the enormous ice sheet that once blanketed much of Alaska during the Pleistocene era. There are other activities such as camping, biking, kayaking, and flightseeing that one can participate in.
Nome was established in 1888 and was primarily a community for gold miners. Movie makers "liked" it here in this city to create movies. The full-length animated film "Balto" was inspired by the diphtheria outbreak in Nome in 1925. The most prestigious dog sled racing in the world, the Iditarod, is held in the city every year to honor the 1925 Great Race of Mercy. Nome is a challenging destination because of its frigid climate and distant location. However, it is among Alaska's most stunning sites to visit!
13. Alaska Highway
The 1,500-mile-long, open Alaska Highway connects Delta Junction in Alaska with Dawson Creek in British Columbia. In just eight months, it was excavated from rock and dense forests. You will pass by the most beautiful natural reserves in Canada and the U.S. as you travel along Alaska Highway. Your drive will be spectacular as you get to appreciate nature as the journey continues.
12. Kennecott Ghost Town
The country's wealthiest copper mining town at one time was Kennecott. It has less than a dozen regular residents today, leaving it virtually entirely deserted. Before the copper reserves were depleted, the copper mine had been operating for 27 years. Visitors can now explore the ghost town's eerie silence in its stunning location deep within the Alaskan wilderness. You will have a magnificent hike as you get to this location, which can only be accessible on foot.
11. Glacier Bay National Park
The voyage may be difficult (there is no road access into or out of the park), but Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is so breathtaking that it is well worth it. West of Juneau, there is a national park that UNESCO has recognized as a World Heritage Site. According to Travel U.S. News, this is home to over 3 million acres of narrow fjords, temperate rainforest, and magnificent tidewater glaciers. Though you'll most likely see Glacier Bay from the comfort of a cruise ship, you might want to explore going even closer to nature with a sea kayaking excursion and then spending the night in the stars in Bartlett Cove.
10. Wrangell St. Elias National Park
The huge Wrangell St. Elias National Park, which is the biggest national park in the U.S., is located in the center of this kingdom. While there are several educational tourist facilities and ranger stations within the park, it's also simple to travel off the beaten path and discover glacier hiking paths or overnight camping excursions. In addition, there are activities like hunting, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking.
This picturesque village on the southern edge of Alaska's Inside Passage is a great entry point into the Alaskan indigenous culture since it has more totem poles than any other place on earth. Explore the Misty Fjords National Monument after walking down historic Creek Street, which was once Ketchikan's brothel quarter. This magnificent area of the Alaskan wilderness, covered in a thick rainforest, is best experienced from the air in a floatplane or on a boat excursion.
The little town of Skagway, which draws over a million visitors annually, is a worthy stop on any itinerary for Alaska. The town's central historic district is its main draw, with more than 100 different structures dating back to the Klondike Gold Rush era. According to Planet Ware, The neighboring Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Museum is another place where you may learn more about the town's importance. This is a beautiful place for historical enthusiasts to spend their day.
Kodiak, the largest island in Alaska and the second-largest island in the United States, is home to several fascinating attractions, making it one of the top places to visit in Alaska. Kodiak Island, often referred to as the Emerald Isle, is home to many breathtakingly beautiful landscapes that draw hordes of nature lovers. As the ferries that travel the Alaskan Marine Highway dock just outside of downtown, Kodiak is a waterfront harbor town.
The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge encases two-thirds of Kodiak Island and is the area's most well-known attraction. This park comprises two thousand eight hundred twelve square kilometers of diverse habitat. Mountain peaks, alpine meadows, ponds, spruce woods, and grasslands can all be seen on Kodiak Island. About 3,500 brown bears live in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, typically weighing between 800 and 1,500 pounds.
Seward, a picturesque port city, is situated in a prime location between Mount Marathon and the Gulf of Alaska. Seward is one of the most magnificent tourist destinations because of the contrast between the snow-capped mountains and the glistening rivers and glaciers. Two of the most well-liked activities in Seward are wildlife viewing and glacier cruises. Numerous indigenous animals, including sea lions, puffins, and even whales, call Resurrection Bay home. Tourists may explore this gorgeous city from above with flightseeing and helicopter tours.
Talkeetna is a little town three hours by scenic train from Anchorage, Alaska, well worth the trip for nature lovers. According to Vacation Idea, the train station is located within a five-minute walk of downtown Talkeetna. The town has just one long street lined with souvenir stores and cafes. Guests to Talkeetna can pick from a wide variety of fun and informative experiences. For example, one could go on one of the many summertime cruises down the Susitna River. Mushing, Hiking, mountain climbing, and fishing are other activities available in the Talkeetna area.
Fairbanks, in the state's interior, is the state's second-largest city. The city serves as a jumping-off point for many tourists on their way to the Arctic Circle and northern lights viewing, and it is also the location of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks is the place to be to appreciate Alaska's breathtaking scenery fully.
The Gold Dredge 8 and the University Of Alaska Museum of the North are two of the many attractions in this little community in rural Alaska. The neighboring Chena River State Recreation Area is an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts to go hiking, riding, and canoeing. Fairbanks is one of the best spots to visit in the world to see the aurora borealis because of its reputation as the "capital of the northern lights."
Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is a wild and wonderful place that should be on everyone's list of places to visit. There is a wide variety of things to do in Juneau, from viewing humpback whales in Mendenhall Lake to kayaking along the cliffs of Tracy Arm Fjord to flying over Juneau's massive icefield in a helicopter. Go to the Alaska State Museum to learn more about the indigenous people of Alaska, and then ride the Goldbelt Tram to see the stunning scenery of the Gastineau Channel. Make sure to get on a solid hike along the East Glacier Trail at Mendenhall Glacier before leaving this picturesque mountain town.
Anchorage, in the state's central southern region, is sometimes called the "culture capital" of Alaska. Visit the 5th Avenue Mall or one of the area's many museums; there's always something to do in this dynamic metropolis. Anchorage's cultural attractions include the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and the Oscar Anderson House Museum. A lover of the outdoors will adore Anchorage.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, the Conservation Center, Alaska Wildlife, and the Prince William Sound fjords are all close by. With its many hiking routes, wildlife, and mammal life, Kincaid Park is a haven of urban wilderness in the middle of the metropolis. According to Touropia, the most outstanding restaurant in Anchorage to eat at when you're hungry is Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.
1. Denali National Park
Awe-inspiring Denali National Park and Preserve is a national park with more than six million acres packed with brilliant lakes and craggy mountains, including Mount Denali, the park's namesake and the tallest peak in North America. Private vehicles are not permitted beyond Mile 15, so you'll need a tour bus or shuttle to the next destination. You can get on and off at any stops along the route. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including wolves, moose, caribou, grizzly, and black bears, which visitors may all see.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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