Discover Stunning Places to See in Alaska – Your Complete Guide

Plan your Alaskan adventure with our ultimate guide to the most beautiful places to visit. Discover stunning landscapes, wildlife, and culture in Alaska.

Discover Stunning Places to See in Alaska – Your Complete Guide

Alaska, the largest state in the US, is a land of rugged wilderness, epic natural beauty, and rich indigenous culture. With glaciers, mountains, and miles of coastline, there are countless stunning places to explore in Alaska.

From bear watching and dog sledding to kayaking and heli-skiing, Alaska offers a range of adventure activities for those seeking an adrenaline rush. Alternatively, visitors can take a more leisurely approach and explore the state’s natural wonders, including Denali National Park, the Northern Lights, and its many glaciers.

Denali Ulusal Parkı ve Koruma Bölgesi - Vikipedi

Whether you’re interested in history, wildlife, or simply taking in the stunning scenery, Alaska has something for everyone. In this complete guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top places to see and things to do in this incredible state.

Alaska’s Natural Wonders

Alaska is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. From towering glaciers to majestic mountains, the state has it all. Here is a closer look at some of Alaska’s must-see natural wonders:

Glaciers in Alaska

Alaska’s glaciers are a sight to behold. There are over 100,000 glaciers in the state, with some of the most popular ones including the Mendenhall Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, and the Columbia Glacier. These glaciers are not only beautiful to look at, but they are also important to the state’s ecosystem.

Alaska Glaciers - Alaska Glacier Cruise - Princess Cruises

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is a must-visit attraction in Alaska. Home to Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America, the park offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and moose.

The Northern Lights

One of Alaska’s most famous natural wonders is the Northern Lights. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this natural light show is caused by electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. The best time to view the Northern Lights is during the winter months.

Alaska’s natural wonders are truly awe-inspiring. From its glaciers to its mountains, the state offers visitors a glimpse into the beauty and power of nature.

Exploring Alaska’s Coastline

Alaska’s coastline offers some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. From the stunning Inside Passage to the rugged coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park, there is no shortage of fantastic coastal attractions to explore in Alaska.

Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is a 1,000-mile route that stretches from Puget Sound, WA to Skagway, AK. This scenic waterway is known for its towering glaciers, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can take a cruise through the Inside Passage, stopping at charming coastal towns and taking in the stunning scenery along the way.

Inside Passage & Cross Gulf Cruise | Travel Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park

Located near the town of Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Alaska’s coastline. The park is home to towering glaciers, crystal clear fjords, and an abundance of marine life. Visitors can take a wildlife cruise or kayak through the park’s pristine waters, taking in the stunning scenery and watching for whales, sea otters, and other sea creatures.

Visit Kenai Fjords National Park: Things to do, tours, directions & best  hikes

Whale Watching in Alaska

Alaska’s coastline is one of the best places in the world to see whales in their natural habitat. Visitors can take a whale watching tour from any number of coastal towns, including Juneau and Ketchikan. Humpback whales, orcas, and gray whales are just a few of the species visitors might see on their whale watching adventure.

With so many stunning coastal attractions to choose from, it’s no wonder that Alaska’s coastline is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the state.

Alaska’s Indigenous Culture

Alaska’s Indigenous culture is rich and diverse, with a long history that spans thousands of years. From the Alaska Native Heritage Center to totem poles and Arctic culture, there are numerous ways to learn about and appreciate Alaska’s vibrant Indigenous communities.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about Alaska’s Indigenous culture and history. The center features exhibits and demonstrations showcasing the traditions, languages, and lifestyles of Alaska’s many Native groups, including the Aleut, Yup’ik, Tlingit, and Inupiaq.

In addition to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visitors can also explore the many totem poles scattered throughout the state. These elaborately carved poles are a hallmark of the Indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest and are often decorated with symbols and images that tell stories and convey important messages.

Arctic culture is another important aspect of Alaska’s Indigenous heritage, with many communities still practicing traditional subsistence activities like hunting and fishing. Visitors to Alaska can learn about these practices by participating in guided tours or visiting remote villages where they can see firsthand how Indigenous communities thrive in Alaska’s rugged and wild environment.

“Alaska’s Indigenous culture is rich and diverse, with a long history that spans thousands of years.”

Overall, Alaska’s Indigenous culture is a fascinating and important part of the state’s history and identity. Whether you’re interested in visiting museums and cultural centers or exploring remote villages and experiencing traditional subsistence activities, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and appreciate Alaska’s vibrant and resilient Native communities.

How Alaska Native communities are building resilience to climate change |  College of the Environment

Adventure Activities in Alaska

For thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, Alaska offers a plethora of exciting adventure activities.

Kayaking: One of the best ways to explore Alaska’s stunning coastline is by kayaking. With miles of remote shoreline, you can paddle through calm waters and encounter incredible wildlife, including sea otters and seals.

Winter Activities in Alaska | Travel Alaska

Heli-skiing: Experience the ultimate powder rush with heli-skiing in Alaska. Fly high into the mountains by helicopter and ski down pristine slopes with breathtaking views.

Dog sledding: No trip to Alaska would be complete without experiencing the thrill of dog sledding. Glide through snow-covered terrain on a sled pulled by a team of energetic huskies, while taking in the stunning scenery.

Whether you prefer water sports, extreme skiing, or a once-in-a-lifetime dog sledding experience, Alaska has it all.

Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

If you’re a nature lover, you won’t want to miss the incredible wildlife viewing opportunities in Alaska. From spotting grizzly bears fishing for salmon to watching caribou herds migrate across the tundra, Alaska is home to some of the most iconic animals in the world.

Bear Watching

One of the best places to see bears in their natural habitat is at Katmai National Park and Preserve. In the summer months, brown bears gather along the Brooks River to catch salmon as they swim upstream. You can watch these massive creatures from viewing platforms located just a few feet away from the action.

Another popular spot for bear watching is Admiralty Island National Monument, which has the highest concentration of brown bears in the world. You can take a guided tour or rent a kayak to explore the island’s secluded coves and bays, where you may spot bears feasting on clams and mussels.

Caribou

The Porcupine Caribou herd is one of the largest and most iconic caribou herds in Alaska, with over 200,000 individuals. You can spot them during their annual migration across the North Slope and eastern Alaska. Or, head to Denali National Park and Preserve, where you may see smaller herds roaming across the tundra.

Bald Eagles

Alaska is home to the largest population of bald eagles in North America, with over 30,000 residing in the state. You can watch these majestic birds soar above the coastal cliffs at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve or take a boat tour along the Inside Passage to see eagles perched in the trees along the shoreline.

Bald eagle | Size, Habitat, Diet, & Facts | Britannica

Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife photographer or just want to observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, Alaska offers endless opportunities to connect with nature.

Historic Sites in Alaska

Alaska’s rich history is a major draw for visitors, and there are many historic sites throughout the state that provide a glimpse into its past. From gold rush towns to cultural landmarks, here are some of the top historic sites to explore in Alaska:

Name Description
Skagway Historic District The small town of Skagway was a major hub during the Klondike Gold Rush, and today visitors can wander the restored historic district to see what life was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Be sure to check out the Trail of ’98 Museum for an in-depth look at the gold rush era.
Sitka National Historical Park Located in the town of Sitka, this park celebrates Alaska’s Indigenous history and culture. Visitors can see totem poles and a reconstructed Tlingit fort, as well as hike scenic trails.
Kodiak Historical Society and Baranov Museum This museum in the town of Kodiak highlights the rich history of the region, including the influence of the Russian fur trade and the devastating Good Friday earthquake of 1964.

Other notable historic sites in Alaska include the Iditarod Trail, which played a crucial role in transporting goods and mail during Alaska’s early days, and the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which celebrates the diverse Indigenous cultures of Alaska.

Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about Alaska’s past, these historic sites are well worth a visit.

Other National Parks In Alaska

Alaska’s National Parks

Alaska boasts some of the most stunning and diverse national parks in the United States. From the icy landscapes of Glacier Bay National Park to the rugged wilderness of Katmai National Park, there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.

Glacier Bay National Park

One of the most popular national parks in Alaska, Glacier Bay offers visitors the chance to witness glaciers up-close and personal. With over 3 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, this park is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can hike, kayak, and even take boat tours to explore the park and its surrounding waterways.

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska - World Tribune

Katmai National Park

Famous for its brown bears, Katmai National Park is an incredibly scenic park that’s perfect for those seeking a true backcountry adventure. With over 4 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, visitors can hike, camp, and fish to their heart’s content. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the iconic Brooks Falls, where you can watch brown bears fish for salmon.

Crowds and bears a delicate balance at Katmai National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

The largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park offers visitors breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. With over 13 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, visitors can hike, camp, and even take a flightseeing tour to explore this vast park. Don’t miss your chance to witness the stunning Kennecott Mine, a historic copper mine that’s now a popular tourist destination.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Photos | Wrangell St. Elias Photos

Whether you’re seeking glaciers, wildlife, or simply unspoiled nature, Alaska’s national parks offer something for everyone. Plan your visit today and experience the incredible beauty of these stunning natural attractions.

Exploring Alaska by Water

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Alaska is by water. With its vast coastline, numerous lakes, and stunning waterways, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the Last Frontier from a different perspective.

Kayaking in Alaska

For the adventurous traveler, kayaking in Alaska is a must-try experience. With its calm bays, raging rapids, and crystal-clear lakes, Alaska has something to offer for kayakers of all skill levels. Kayaking can be done independently, but it’s recommended to join a guided tour for the best experience. Some popular kayaking destinations include Glacier Bay National Park and the Kenai Fjords.

Kayak Alaska - Travel to Valdez on your Alaska trip for a 4 day kayaking  and camping trip out on Prince William Sound

Cruise Ships in Alaska

If you prefer a more luxurious way of exploring Alaska by water, consider taking a cruise ship. Alaska is a popular destination for cruise lines, with ships ranging from small luxury yachts to massive ships accommodating thousands of passengers. Most cruises take passengers along the Inside Passage, where they can view breathtaking glaciers, wildlife, and rugged coastline. As well as offering comfortable accommodation and a range of amenities, cruises are a great way to visit several destinations in a short amount of time.

Whale Watching in Alaska

Alaska is one of the best places in the world to spot whales, with several species—including orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales—frequently seen along the coast. Whale watching tours are offered in several locations, including Juneau and Sitka. These tours are a great way to see these magnificent creatures up close while also learning more about their life cycle and migratory patterns.

Exploring Alaska’s Waterways

Aside from kayaking, cruises, and whale watching, there are several other options for exploring Alaska’s waterways. Renting a small boat or joining a water taxi service allows visitors to explore secluded coves, hidden bays, and pristine rivers. Fishing in Alaska is also a popular activity, with salmon, halibut, and trout among the species that can be caught in various locations.

Regardless of how you choose to explore Alaska by water, the experience is sure to be unforgettable. From kayaking alongside glaciers to spotting whales breach the surface of the water, Alaska’s waterways offer endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

When to Visit Alaska

Choosing the best time to visit Alaska depends on what activities you’re interested in and what kind of weather you prefer. Alaska experiences drastic seasonal changes, with long days of sunshine in the summer and extended darkness in the winter.

The peak tourist season in Alaska is from mid-June to mid-August when the days are longest and the weather is at its mildest, with temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (16°C to 27°C). During these months, you’ll have the chance to experience everything Alaska has to offer, from hiking and kayaking to sightseeing and wildlife watching.

If you’re interested in seeing the Northern Lights, the best time to visit Alaska is from September to April. However, keep in mind that winter temperatures can be extremely cold, with temperatures frequently dropping below 0°F (-18°C). If you’re up for winter activities like skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding, this may be the best time for you.

May and September can be great months to visit Alaska. During these times, you’ll avoid the peak crowds and still experience mild weather. The fall colors in September are particularly stunning, and you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights during this time.

When is the Best Time to Visit Alaska? Here's the Answer • Valerie & Valise

Regardless of when you visit, it’s important to remember that Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable and change quickly. Be sure to pack layers and rain gear, even in the summer months, and check the weather forecast frequently.

How to Get Around Alaska

Getting around Alaska can be an adventure in itself, with a range of transportation options available to suit all tastes and budgets. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular ways to explore the Last Frontier:

Transportation Option Pros Cons
Rental Car Flexible and allows you to travel at your own pace. Great for exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations. Can be expensive, especially during peak tourist season. Some areas may not have rental car options available.
Train Travel Scenic and comfortable. Great for viewing Alaska’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. Limited routes and schedules. May not be the most efficient way to travel long distances.
Cruise Ships All-inclusive and convenient. Great for seeing multiple destinations without having to worry about transportation. Can be crowded and expensive. Limited time in each destination.

No matter how you choose to get around Alaska, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for the unique challenges that come with traveling in this rugged, remote region of the world. Make sure to pack appropriate gear for the weather and activities you have planned, and be aware of the distances between destinations.

 

With a little bit of planning, you can have an unforgettable adventure exploring all that Alaska has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling to Alaska

Are there any special requirements for traveling to Alaska?

If you are traveling from outside the United States, you will need a valid passport and visa (if applicable) to enter Alaska. If you are traveling within the United States, you will not need a passport, but you will need to bring a government-issued photo ID.

What is the best time of year to visit Alaska?

The best time to visit Alaska is usually from mid-June to mid-September, when the weather is mild and the days are long. However, if you are interested in winter sports or viewing the Northern Lights, you may prefer to visit during the winter months.

What should I pack for my trip to Alaska?

It’s important to pack for a variety of weather conditions, as Alaska can be unpredictable. Be sure to bring warm layers, a waterproof jacket, sturdy shoes or boots, and insect repellent if you are planning to spend time outdoors.

How can I get around Alaska?

Alaska is a large and sparsely populated state, so transportation options can be limited in some areas. However, there are several options for getting around, including rental cars, buses, trains, and domestic flights.

Is it safe to travel in Alaska?

Alaska is generally a safe place to travel, but it’s always important to take precautions. Be sure to research your destination before you go and stay aware of your surroundings while you are there. It’s also a good idea to take basic safety measures such as not leaving valuables unattended and locking your car doors.

What are some popular tourist attractions in Alaska?

Alaska is known for its stunning natural beauty, so popular attractions include national parks such as Glacier Bay and Denali, as well as whale watching tours, glacier hikes, and Northern Lights viewing opportunities. Cultural attractions such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center and historic sites like Skagway are also popular with visitors.

What are some popular outdoor activities in Alaska?

Alaska is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities such as kayaking, hiking, fishing, and skiing all popular options. Wildlife viewing is another favorite pastime, with opportunities to see bears, moose, and other animals in their natural habitats.

Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of in Alaska?

Alaska is home to several Indigenous cultures, and visitors should be respectful of these cultures and their customs. For example, take care not to touch or remove any artifacts while visiting cultural sites, and be mindful of appropriate dress and behavior when interacting with Indigenous people.

 

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