Sprawling across the North West of Canada, the state of Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for the bargain price of $7.2 million. Famous for its sprawling terrain, diverse topography and astonishing range of wildlife many consider it too sparse to be taken seriously as a viable holiday destination. This is a real shame because Alaska offers such a wonderful range of sights and activities that is as varied and diverse as its open spaces mountains and forests. Sure, you’ll never get a tan since the temperatures never exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s just about the only thing you won’t get. Whether it’s fun and adventure you’re after or peaceful solitude amongst the miracles of nature, you’ll find it in Alaska.
Why visit Alaska?
Few states can rival Alaska’s natural beauty and rich, quirky history (did you know that the town of Talkeetna had a cat for a mayor for over 15 years). It’s one of the few states where moose roam freely, even in the cities. It’s bigger than all of the smallest 22 states put together yet it’s home to 710,000 people and half of those live in its largest city Anchorage. Yet, despite its sparse population you’ll be astonished at how much there is to do.
Let’s look at some unmissable sights and activities that will hopefully open your eyes to exactly what ‘the last frontier’ has to offer.
Whether you yearn for challenge or simply long for spectacular views, you’re bound to be bowed by Alaska’s icy mountains. In fact, the state is home to 17 of North America’s 20 tallest mountains. The gigantic jewel in her crown is the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley. Denali stands as 20,320 feet and the National Park that surrounds it offers bus rides and ranger-led guided walks around this beautiful behemoth.
The fun doesn’t stop there, either!
Denali is one of the most diverse National Parks in the country with a plethora of activities to please all tastes. If hikes and trails aren’t your thing then how about a dog-pulled sled ride? The park offers fishing, rafting or you could even see the majesty of the park from above with a flightseeing tour.
River Fishing in Kenai
If you enjoy the therapeutic combination of relaxation and excitement that fishing offers, then you’ll find no finer fishing than on the Kenai river. Fishing on the Kenai is not only a great fishing experience, it’s an unsurpassed sightseeing experience too. The area also boasts some truly picturesque log cabins maintained by Alaska Moose & Spruce Cabins and Lodging that will add charm and authenticity to your experience. We recommend Rod ‘N Real Fishing Charters whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or an enthusiastic newbie. Try your hand at fishing for the famous Wild Alaskan King Salmon as well as the Silver salmon and the Alaskan Wild Sockeye. You might even encounter the gigantic Alaskan Halibut. You know, just for the halibut.
Terrible jokes aside, the river Kenai also offers whale watching or bear viewing.
Marvel at Glacier Bay
Photo credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/
North America has many wonderful national parks, but Alaska boasts a national park that’s larger than the entire state of Conneticut at a staggering 3.3 million acres. That’s the unprecedented scope of Glacier Bay National Park. There’s so much to enjoy from both the water and the ground. You’ll be hard pressed to find another location that offers as much in staggering views, fun activities and fascinating culture.
The Huna Tribal House is a stronghold for the indigenous Tlingit people. The 2,500 square foot structure (full name, Xunaa Shuká Hít –roughly translated as “Huna Ancestor’s House”) is the first permanent clan house for the Tlingit people in Glacier Bay since their villages were destroyed by an advancing glacier over 250 years ago.
There’s extraordinary wildlife throughout the bay and the icy calm is often punctuated by the calling of humpback whales, the song of hermit thrushes and the distinctive bark of sea lions. The bay is the natural habit of an incredible variety of wildlife from giant brown bears to scuttling shore crabs.
But what makes Glacier Bay unique is (unsurprisingly) its monumentally beautiful glaciers. And given that the park is host to over 50 of them, you’re unlikely to miss one. It’s not all snow and ice, though. The park is ringed by rugged mountains and is full of lush vegetation, including its own rainforest.
If that all sounds a bit sedate for you then there are plenty of dynamic activities for you to enjoy including mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking.
Learn everything there is to know about the area in the Museum of the North
If you’re the kind of person who loves to immerse themselves in local knowledge, then look no further, The Museum of the North in Fairbanks is one of Alaska’s top tourist destinations, encompassing a wide range of information about Native Alaskan culture, the state’s natural wonders and the diverse wildlife through a combination of physical and digital exhibits.
Previous exhibits have included fascinating studies on polar bears, examinations of the prehistoric mammoths and mastodons that roamed the area, and gorgeous landscape photography of the stunning glaciers. When you combine it with a sandwich and a steaming cup of coffee from the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co in the on-site cafe and you have the makings of a perfect day.
And finally… The greatest show on Earth
Alaska is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Aurora Borealis is amongst the most spectacular natural phenomena on the planet. Alaska is one of the few places from which it can be seen and best of all, it doesn’t cost a penny to see. When charged particles from the sun strike tiny atoms within our atmosphere, causing the electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. As they drop back into a lower energy state, they release a photon or in other words- light. This process creates the stunning views known as the Northern Lights. They can be seen all over the north of the state but the best views are from Fairbanks, Anchorage and Brooks Range.