The largest state in the U.S., Alaska is known for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, charming small towns, and rich history. If you are planning a trip to Alaska, you will want to see as much of the state as you can, but with so many exciting destinations and unique activities, it might be hard to choose. If you are looking for some guidance, here is list of some of the best places to visit in Alaska and what they have to offer.
The Northern Lights in Fairbanks
Seeing the Northern Lights, with swirls of purple, yellow, green, and red, is a rare event you won’t want to miss, and Fairbanks is the most reliable spot to view them. The clear nights and northern location make the lights appear more frequently and vividly. The best time of year to see the Northern Lights is during the cold and dark months of winter, but it is possible to see them in early September.
The Historic Alaska Highway
Take a drive on the Alaska Highway, a 1500-mile long highway that stretches from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, to get a sense of the true vastness of this state. Carved from rock in just eight months, this highway will take you past national parks and through spectacular mountain ranges. If you keep a lookout, you might spot bears, moose, and other wildlife along the way.
Denali National Park
See Denali (Mt. McKinley), the highest peak in North America, at this spectacular National Park located in Central Alaska. The upper part of the mountain is covered with snow and glaciers year-round. Take a hike through the area to explore glacial rivers and mountain peaks. Despite the cold temperatures, the park is home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and 650 species of plants.
Glacier Bay National Park
A World Heritage site and one of the largest protected areas in the world, this 25-million acre park is where the North American and Pacific tectonic plates collide. With three million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforests, and fjords, you will want to spend some time exploring the area. The many activities available in the park include hiking, biking, boating, and fishing.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Located on the Kenai Peninsula near Seward, this park is home to some of the most beautiful fjords and glaciers in Alaska. The Harding Icefield, the park’s main attraction, is accessible via the Harding Icefield Trail. Here you will find rich marine life and wildlife. Keep a lookout for moose, bears, and other wildlife, or take a boat tour to see whales, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and puffins.
This town, located at the head of an 11-mile long fjord in the Prince William Sound, is an important port for fishing and commerce. Its glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, rainforests, and wildlife make it an ideal destination for tourists. Be sure not to miss the Keystone Canyon and the Worthington Glacier. If you are interested in learning about the local history of the town, including the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill and the earthquake of 1964, The Valdez Museum is a must-see.
Located 13 miles from Juneau Icefield, this half-mile wide glacier is part of Tongass National Forest. You can see this magnificent glacier close up by kayak or canoe. For a spectacular aerial view, take a helicopter tour. Some tours take you to the glacier site and offer activities such as guided ice walking and dog sledding. If you prefer exploring the glacier on your own, you can hike on one of six trails that will bring you close to the its face.
If you love nature and history, Sitka has it all. Located on Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago, Sitka is where the Russians sold Alaska to America in 1867. Surrounded by mountains and forests, the island is rich in nature, culture, and history. Here, you can immerse yourself in a rich combination of Native and Russian cultures and explore nature by hiking through the rainforest.
A visit to Skagway will take you back into history to the time of the Gold Rush. Located in Southeast Alaska, this small town features historic wooden sidewalks, old saloons and shops, and people dressed in 19th century clothing. The area can be explored through guided hiking tours, walking tours, by scooter, or by bike.
These are just a few of the best places to visit in Alaska. Whatever you decide to do, a trip to Alaska will be an unforgettable experience. With so much to explore, you will want to come back again to experience more of what this unique state has to offer.