Alaska is a pristine land. It’s a prime example of beautiful and unspoiled nature. The diverse wildlife and geography make it an adventure lover’s paradise.
From wilderness inland to vibrant coastlines, there is so much to love here. Sparsely populated, its nickname explains it all, Alaska – “the last frontier”.
Fun Fact: Alaska is by far the largest state of the United States of America by land area was purchased by the United States for a just $7,200,000 USD from the Russian Empire in 1867. It gained statehood in 1959 as the 49th state (right before Hawaii).
Top Things To Do In Alaska
Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas – and most of its Northern Parts are incredibly sparsely populated. Most people visit this north-most US state to get away from the crowd and worries of the everyday life, and to find peace and serenity in the vast wilderness.
If you are coming to Alaska, you are likely looking for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, whale watching, camping, hiking, dog sledding, etc.
Visit this ultimate guide for the best tourist spots around Alaska and to get the expert tips and even supplies for the above mentioned outdoors activities. It explains the resources and supplies you’ll need and from where you can get them. Amazing resource.
Denali National Park
Whether climbing or admiring, the crowning jewel of North America’s highest peak is the awe inspiring 20,320-foot tall Mt. Denali.
Gates of the Arctic National Park
Traveling through this vast wilderness you will discover craggy ridges, glacier carved valleys, and fragile wild-flowers.
Glacier Bay National Park
Popular for marine wilderness and the Glacier Bay also includes tidewater glaciers, snow-capped mountain ranges, ocean coastlines, deep fjords, and freshwater rivers and lakes.
Katmai National Park
Famous for volcanoes, brown bears, pristine waterways with abundant fish, remote wilderness, and a rugged coastline.
Kenai Fjords National Park
A land where the ice age still lingers where glaciers, earthquakes, and ocean storms are the architects.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Chugach, Wrangell, and Saint Elias mountain ranges converge here in what is often referred to as the “Mountain kingdom of North America.”
It has the continent’s largest assemblage of glaciers and greatest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet.
Lake Clark National Park
Located along the gulf coast of Southwestern Alaska, this most-remote of all National Parks, Lake Clark was created to protect scenic beauty (volcanoes, glaciers, wild rivers and waterfalls), populations of fish and wildlife, watersheds essential for red salmon, and the traditional lifestyle of local residents.
Lake Clark’s spectacular scenery provides a true wilderness experience for those who visit. But sadly, and perhaps for the cost reasons, it is least visited of the United States National Parks, with a mere 5,000 annual visitors.
View the Polar Lights
Once you cross the Arctic Circle, and the further north you travel, your chances of viewing the northern lights gets increasingly higher. Note that Alaska is one of the best places to see Aurora Borealis, also called as the Northern Lights, or simply Polar lights.
Best Time to See Northern Lights:
Alaska’s Northern Lights season is between mid-September and late April, peaking in March, though that’s to do more with the long, dark nights than solar activity.
Best Place to See Northern Lights:
From Fairbanks, travel north to Coldfoot or Barrow. These places has accommodation options. You can rent a 4×4 and drive yourself.
You can also see the Aurora from Fairbanks itself and also in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Top 10 Cities & Towns
- Anchorage – Alaska’s largest city
- Juneau – State capital and third largest city
- Fairbanks – Alaska’s second largest city
- Deadhorse – Alaska’s oil center, the production facilities can only be accessed by tours
- Coldfoot – northof Fairbanks and Arctic Circle, a popular spot for viewing Northern Lights
- Utqiaġvik (Barrow) – the northernmost city in both the US and North America. Also a popular spot for viewing Northern Lights
- Dutch Harbor (Unalaska) – the largest community in the Aleutian Islands
- Homer – Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, Kachemak Bay State Park, and Katmai National Park
- Ketchikan – Alaska’s southernmost city and the first Alaska port for northbound cruise-ship travelers
- Kodiak – the Island Town and base for wildlife viewing in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
Top 10 Places in Alaska Infographic
Alaska is a remarkable destination for adventurers. It’s a perfect place to both get wild and explore the mysteries of nature. Below, we are showing an Infographic with the top 10 attractions.
Best Time To Visit Alaska
Those who are fearless enough to brave the cold can go during the winter months December to March. It is the off-season, and there are many winter outdoor activities you can do.
But those who want to curb down the cold can make a visit during the shoulder months- April and September- when the weather is perfect, and the prices are also low.
Alaska was once said to be a frozen wasteland, but now it is a source of gold and oil. People of Alaska are multicultural. You will find a wide range of history in different parts of it, keep your mind open. Be curious so you can know about the history and respect it.
Places other than the developed Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau still adhere to their culture. So if you are taking a trip into the rural areas, you are in to learn a lot about Alaska Native Communities.
Asides from English Yupik is a native language spoken by the natives. But you don’t have to learn it. English will help you to communicate with most of the natives.
Even though the place is multicultural and there are many other languages spoken besides English, English is still your best choice to connect with anyone in Alaska.
A place is defined by the food it develops. And if you want to feel like a true Alaska then you got to try the local cuisine. First on your list should be the Reindeer sausage which you will most probably find in any diner in Alaska for breakfast.
The portions of food in Alaska are generous, so your tummy gets packed even with a little of what you order.
Next should be a taste of the snow crab which gets exported around the world. Restaurants near the shores serve you fresh Alaskan seafood you just cannot pass.
What To Wear
In Alaska, the weather can go from drizzly to sunny in a matter of places. You need to dress up in layers. A t-shirt and jeans should be your first layer, followed by a light sweater, then a fleece jacket and then a waterproof one.
You can remove the waterproof jacket when it is not raining.
Another important thing is head gear, and gloves, both of it should be waterproof, so you do not have a problem while hiking or cruising. Forget about your heels and bring a sturdy pair of boots with you that protect your feet and give you a firm grip.
How To Get Here
The main international airports are in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Domestic Airways are the best way to travel across this land.
Anchorage International Airport is the biggest and the cleanest airport in the state. But landing here if you are not staying here can lead to a long drive which you might not like.
Many rent cars and drive themselves to their hotels.
Rail & Cruise
There is no extensive railway system. That said, even though you can’t use railway for public transportation, you can travel across major attractions and Alaska destination by scenic train rides.
Do some research and you’ll find something that suits your interest and budget.
If you want to savor the undiscovered treasure that is Alaska, know that it is also a popular cruise destination. This way, you can take a closer look at the vibrant coasts, pure glaciers, diverse wildlife, and lush nature.
The best way to get around in Alaska is by air or water Because the road connection is worse than any other state. Anchorage and Fairbanks have flights to local places But as Alaska Airlines rules the state expect the prices to be much higher.
Another way to get around is taking a cruise ship. Taking a small ship will get you closer to the Alaskan wildlife and natural beauty. You do not have to be stuck on the ship- the cruise will take you on guided hikes as well.
The railroad is yet another way to get around in Alaska. It is one and only place in America where cabooses are used in freight trains. It is best to use railroad services if you visit in summers.
Alaska does not have a good road connection. Only a part of it is connected via roads, not even the capital Juneau is connected by roads. Only the areas of Fairbanks and Anchorage have decent road connections.
That said, you can find some car rental companies in any major town.
Renting vs. Bus, Train, Taxi
Renting in Alaska is expensive than anywhere else in the US. A small vehicle might cost you just $20 during offseason. But a large vehicle during peak season costs you $200/day.
If you want to just get around in between cities, then it is better to take flights or railroad services- which is faster and well connected.
Right or Left Driving
Driving here is on the right side of the road. As traffic in Alaska is less, you will have no problem at turns. But concentrate on driving while traveling through cities.
You might encounter moose when driving on Alaskan Roads. In such cases, slow down and let it cross the road.
Lastly, keep note that on the Dalton Highway the 18 wheelers have the right of way and the roads and weather conditions can be treacherous. Unless you have a good reason to drive a 4-wheeler, stick to the tour bus or small-flights between cities and various attractions.
Alaska is not a budget-friendly destination. Traveling to and traveling within Alaska will cost you a good chunk of money. Still, if you want to cut short your budget by avoiding luxurious hotel stays and expensive dinners, then you can have it within your reach.
A moderate stay and normal meal cost you $200/ day during winter. That is excluding all the cost of getting around and entrance fees.
If you take a seven-day cruise, then it might cost $500- $5000 according to your choice of ship. Prices get lower during the shoulder season of April and September. But in Winters the prices are even lower.
How Many Days For Alaska
A four-five day trip is not enough to pack the greatness of Alaska. If you want to have the true Alaska feel, then two weeks is the best way to slip into your Alaskan Stupor. You can combine a cruise and land tour.
You will not only get to visit the popular Spots in Alaska but also soak in the beauty of its off -beaten path. If two weeks seems too much, then a 10-day travel plan is the most popular among travelers.
Where To Stay
If you are driving along the Alaskan Wilderness, then you will come across many campgrounds, RVs, and cabins. Do your research before you get into any of these places.
The more remote you venture out, the more planning and research you should do. Alaska is the wild and uncharted wilderness and there are no hotels, motels, or Airbnb except outside of major cities and towns.
Wi-Fi & Cell Signal
There are some Free Wi-Fi options all around Alaska. Even the smallest of Airports have free Wi-Fi. McDonald’s and most of the public libraries will have free Wi-Fi. You can find free Wi-Fi at the Denali National Park also.
If you are from some other country and your phone gets locked, then you can buy the phone at a low price at nearly any store in Alaska. You can get prepaid sim cards at Walmart. Choose a plan and network that best suits your length of stay.
Note: In remote places, you won’t have cell coverage or internet. Keep extra batteries, flash lights, gas (petrol, diesel).
How Safe Is Alaska
People are extremely friendly here, but still, some locals get annoyed at the string of tourists coming to explore (spoil?) the wild and wildlife trophy hunters.
You don’t have to worry about crime but take caution with wildlife.
Bears and Moose are a common thing in Alaska. If you leave your food outdoors (unattended), then there is a high chance of a bear whooshing it up.
A bear is generally speaking not violent unless it feels threatened or feels you are claiming their territory. If you encounter one, you need to be calm and not run when you see one. It will not charge towards you if you do not run. Walk away or drive away slowly away from the bear.
Same rule applies for any wildlife. Practice common sense and don’t panic. Avoid and don’t disturb wildlife or their habitat.
Moose are equally dangerous, and in fact more people are killed or injured by them than bears, which shouldn’t be because it is generally very easy to avoid a moose attack.
Unlike bears, moose are not territorial, but they do have a strong sense of their personal space and will defend it.
September 3, 2016 11:31 am Leave your thoughts
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