Although Alaska is the third least populous state in the U.S., it is the largest state by area. With 34,000 miles of tidal shoreline, about 100,000 glaciers and more than 3 million lakes, the “Last Frontier” is an outdoor explorer’s dream. Whether you are adventuring by Alaskan cruise ship, land tour, flightseeing, or train, the 49th state will afford you an unrivaled scenic experience.
Plan a visit to Fairbanks to catch the Northern Lights. Or take a trip to Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness to see the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Though the most popular time of year to visit is between May and August for the warmer weather and extended daylight, travelers can enjoy Alaska year round if they’re willing to bear the cold and shorter days of winter.
Best Places to Visit in Alaska
With half of Alaska’s population residing in the Anchorage metropolitan area, it’s no wonder this city is bustling with shopping and live entertainment, in addition to providing easy access to Alaska’s famous nature and wildlife.
Alaska Native Heritage Center: Experience Alaska native culture in this educational and cultural institution.
Anchorage Museum: As the largest museum in the state, this family-friendly city museum takes an in-depth look into Alaska’s history from the gold rush to prehistoric times.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: Drive the 1.5 mile loop or walk through the 200 acres of this conservation and research center where you can spot black and brown bears, moose, caribou, wolves and reindeer.
Cities in Alaska
Fairbanks: Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights during Aurora Season or take a day trip to nearby hot springs.
Homer: Enjoy the coastal scenery of Kachemak Bay and the art galleries and seafood restaurants along Homer Split.
Seward: This port city is surrounded by glaciers and is a gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.
Juneau: The state capital is only accessible by plane or a ferry from Skagway or Ketchikan.
Alaska State and National Parks
Denali National Park and Preserve: Home to North America’s tallest peak, Mount Denali, this 6-million acre wilderness preserve is perfect for visitors looking to see wildlife, camp, or go snowmobiling.
Gates of the Arctic National Preserve: This northernmost national park in the U.S. does not have a single paved road or trail amidst 8.4 million acres of wilderness.
Katmai National Park and Preserve: Managed by the National Park Service to preserve the sockeye salmon that spawn in its rivers, Katmai is famous for its active volcanoes, glaciers, and brown bear population.
Kenai Fjords National Park: Over 600,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, this park is known for its unique combination of ocean, mountains and glaciers. Orcas, otters, bears, and moose make their home here.
Sitka National Historic Park: Alaska’s oldest national park features Tlingit and Haida totem poles, which commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka.
Glacier Bay National Park: This park offers 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, glaciers, rainforest and wild coastlines.
No Alaska trip would be complete without a visit to one of its 616 named glaciers.
Mendenhall Glacier: Located in Auke Bay, Juneau, this 13.6 mile-long glacier is one of the easier ones to get to.
Laughton Glacier: This relatively easy day hike from the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway stop will take you to the top of the glacier.
Taku Glacier: This tide water glacier is over 4800 feet thick, and can be seen from Taku Inlet.