Alaska, the ultimate frontier of journey journey is on the prime of many bucket lists. The largest state in the United States is a vacation spot that gives guests an unparalleled alternative to expertise the pure magnificence and rugged wilderness of the Arctic. Alaska is a spot that captures the creativeness and the spirit of journey. From the bustling metropolis of Anchorage to the distant wilderness of Denali National Park, there isn’t a scarcity of locations to go to in Alaska. And we’ve seen most of them.
Top Places to Visit in Alaska
Alaska’s panorama is various, starting from snow-capped mountains to glaciers, fjords, and an expanse of forests. We fell in love with Alaska the primary time we visited in 2011 and when taking my mother and father on a Holland American Cruise final summer season, we had been thrilled to find a way to share its magnificence and introduce them.
When selecting your cruise or land tour by way of Alaska, it may be tough to determine the place to cease or what to see, so we’re rounding up among the greatest locations to go to in Alaska that we’ve been to aid you plan your journey.
Denali National Park and Preserve
There are 17 nationwide parks in Alaska, and Denali National Park and Preserve is definitely the preferred of all of them. It can’t be seen from a cruise and wishes to be added as a land tour or you’ll be able to journey to it independently. This huge wilderness space is situated in central Alaska and is residence to North America’s highest peak, Denali (Mount McKinley) which stands at 6190 meters (20,310 ft),
One of the primary issues guests normally do at this nationwide park is to hop aboard transformed faculty buses to take pleasure in a guided scenic tour in search of grizzly bears, moose, wolves, caribou, and Dall sheep.
We took this ATV journey which was a hoot driving alongside trails. The journey contains 360° overlook views of the Alaska Range, Otto Lake, and the Healy Valley.
One of the preferred actions in Denali National Park is climbing. The park has a community of climbing trails that vary from brief walks to multi-day backpacking journeys. It has 6 campgrounds which do get busy in the summer season months so it’s a good suggestion to make a reservation. Be certain to examine in with the Denali Visitor Center earlier than venturing out into the park.
McKinley Chalet Resort
We stayed at McKinley Chalet Resort which was superior. Located lower than 2 miles from the nationwide park entrance, we felt proper in the center of the wilderness. The newly renovated suites in our wing had been stylish and fashionable with that rustic mountain lodge really feel.
Our balcony seemed over the mountains. The property is giant with completely different areas indifferent from the primary lodge. We loved a enjoyable night right here watching The Music of Denali as we our servers carried out on stage whereas feeding us recent Alaskan salmon, ribs, and mashed potatoes, household type.
Denali – Mt. McKinely
If you might be fortunate whereas visiting the park, you might find a way to spy the majestic mountain, Denali. It is normally overcast, however we’ve been fortunate sufficient to see it from our land tour and by a scenic flight.
A scenic flight was a fully beautiful approach to expertise North America’s tallest peak. Seeing the glaciers and ice fields from above was an intimidating sight. At occasions it felt as if we might attain out and contact it. Book this scenic flight over Denali the place you’ll fly shut to the summit of Denali, take pleasure in views of the Alaska Range and witness the Tokositna and Ruth Glaciers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime expertise.
Avid climbers can try to conquer Denali. But in contrast to Mount Kilimanjaro, it requires critical climbing expertise and winter tenting. If you might be new to mountaineering, it’s higher to stick to taking in scenic views.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is without doubt one of the most unusual locations in the world. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so with historical past packed in each single molecule of its historic glacier historical past.
The Grand Pacific Glacier was greater than 4000 ft thick simply two centuries in the past however has shrunk considerably. Today the glacier has been divided into many small ones and lots of of them are calving to at the present time. That means at any second an enormous block of ice might fall off of them, which additionally means most of the glaciers have to be loved from a distance.
The park is made up of greater than 3 million acres and may solely be reached by ship or float airplane. Alaska’s inside passage in Glacier Bay takes you from forest to ice and is breathtaking to expertise as you float the fjord. When you’re in the within passage it’s nearly as if nothing else exists.
During our Holland America Cruise, we circled the bay having fun with panoramic views of the glaciers from the entrance deck. By having a balcony suite, we then retired to our room to benefit from the views with a glass of champagne as we relaxed in privateness taking in this surprise of the world.
One of our favourite locations to go to in Alaska is Ketchikan. The Salmon Capital of the world and Alaska’s first metropolis, it is a city the place most cruises cease both first or final. Located on the Inside Passage in southern Alaska, this frontier city was as soon as a thriving settlement for the gold rush and as you stroll alongside the boardwalks of historic Creek Street, you’ll be able to see historic buildings from the pink gentle district courting again to the 1800s.
Ketchikan can be among the best locations to see whales in Alaska and there are many boat excursions that can take you onto the water. We took a zodiac tour in Ketchikan the place we explored the coast, spied bald eagles and whales from our self-drive boats.
Ketchikan additionally has the world’s largest assortment of standing Native American totem poles. Make certain to lookup to see all of them. If you need to delve into Indigenous tradition, go to the Totem Heritage Center and study concerning the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Peoples.
You also can see extra Totem poles on the Saxam Village in Ketchikan and we noticed Totem Bight State Historic Park on one other cruise in Alaska. Located simply outdoors of Ketchikan, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary
Ketchikan can be residence to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. It covers 40 acres of protected land and is residence to a various vary of wildlife, together with black bears, bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer, and salmon.
We took a float airplane out to Neets Bay to watch bears feast on spawning salmon as they fattened up for winter hibernation. This was among the best experiences we’ve ever had. Make certain to guide it early as these excursions refill rapidly. If you need to see brown bears feeding on salmon as a substitute, the place to do that’s at Katmai National Park and Preserve.
Misty Fjords National Monument
One of the star points of interest is Misty Fjords National Monument which is situated simply 22 miles east of Ketchikan. It is made up of sheer rock partitions that attain 3000 ft straight out of the ocean. Take a scenic flight right here the place you’ll witness steep sea cliffs, steep fjords, and rainforests.
Where to Stay in Ketchikan
If you might be staying in Ketchikan, try the Inn at Creek Street – These restored historic buildings supply distinctive lodging in the center of downtown. Most rooms have kitchenettes and fridges. Details right here.
The Landing – The Landing Hotel is situated in downtown Ketchikan. It has The Landing Restaurant & Jeremiah’s Pub on website.
Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier
Many cruise ships additionally begin and end their journeys in Juneau, Alaska. I do know we’ve got! Named after Joe Juneau, a French-Canadian miner, and prospector Juneau is without doubt one of the extra taking place cities in Alaska. One of its fundamental vacationer points of interest is the big Mendenhall Glacier situated on the Juneau Ice subject.
Juneau is a spot in Alaska that requires at the least a few days to discover. The city itself has a enjoyable old-west vibe full with saloons, boardwalks, and loads of points of interest. It’s additionally one of many premier locations in the world to spot bald eagles with them being so plentiful there’s a seaside really known as Bald Eagle Beach. Read extra about all of the 28 Amazing Things to do in Juneau, Alaska
Where to Stay in Juneau
Four Points by Sheraton – Located on the waterfront we discovered this to be a really handy lodge. It was inside strolling distance to downtown plus it has easy accessibility to the Seadrome Marina.
Ramada Inn by Wyndham – Another nice location in Juneau just a bit farther away from the historic downtown than the Sheraton. But nonetheless inside strolling distance and we beloved their restaurant and bar.
Mendenhall Ice Caves
The Mendenhall ice caves are one of many coolest issues to see in Juneau. This pure attraction will make you are feeling as if you might have been transported to a planet of ice and glass. The Mendenhall ice caves are normally accessible between July and September.
You can take a tour to see the Mendenhall Glacier and benefit from the climbing trails across the lake to see its completely different viewpoint.
Book this highly-rated Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves Tour. For the journey of a lifetime, paddle the Mendenhall Lake to the Glacier the place you’ll get to discover the glacier up shut and private. Or you’ll be able to be a part of a canoe journey to the glacier the place you’ll seek for wildlife, paddle round ice flows and eventually step foot on the glacier.
Tongass National Forest
It’s onerous to consider that Alaska has a rainforest however Tongass National Forest is the biggest functioning temperate rainforest on Earth. The dimension of Tongass is mind-blowing at greater than 16 million acres of land. From each Ketchikan and Juneau, you’ll be able to go to Tongass National Forest.
In the forest, you’ll be able to take pleasure in its climbing trails and for those who’re in Juneau, you’ll be able to take a mere 15-minute drive to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center which is situated inside the forest. We took a wonderful guided hike to the glacier the place we watched salmon spawn and discovered about its natural world. Besides Mendenhall, there are quite a few different glaciers and climbing trails unfold throughout the park.
The park is residence to all types of wildlife like wolves, black bears, and deer. You may even spot humpback whales and sea lions in the close by waters. Tongass National Park has the comforts of town inside it in addition to the comforts of the wild all through.
The very first place we ever visited in Alaska was Fairbanks, Alaska and this city is superior. When visiting Alaska in the summer season it’s actually the land of the Midnight Sun. There are so many issues to do in Fairbanks from studying about Native American Culture and exploring the Chena River to enjoyable in the Chena Hot Springs.
One of the extra attention-grabbing locations to go to is the Yukon Quest Alaska Headquarters. This is the beginning of the Yukon Quest canine sled race the place you’ll be able to study concerning the well-known canine mushers and groups who’ve taken half over time. Including our buddy Hank McCready who ran the prettiest staff in Alaska. Another cease is the fountainhead vintage auto museum the place classic automobiles are on show. It is constantly ranked as among the best auto museums in the world.
Where to Stay in Fairbanks
For Aurora viewing try Aurora Villa. This fashionable retreat is a boutique lodge providing views of the northern lights nestled in the mountains above Fairbanks.
A go to to Alaska wouldn’t be full with out seeing Anchorage. It is the biggest metropolis in Alaska and a world hub with entry to Alaska’s inside and coast. It is right here that you could hop on the Alaska Railroad to discover the nice frontier.
Anchorage was the beginning of our cruise. After disembarking from the railway, we loved two nights in downtown Anchorage. With cafés and eating places, it has all of the facilities of an enormous metropolis. A spotlight to go to is the ultra-modern Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and The Alaska Native Heritage Center exploring the life and tradition of Alaska’s indigenous individuals.
Skagway is a bustling city the place practically each ship stops. It may be overwhelming spending only a day in Skagway. This outdated wild west city is crammed with power. In city, you’ll be able to go to the Klondike Visitor’s Center to study all concerning the Gold Rush that attracted individuals to this a part of the world.
Take a step again in time and go to the Skagway National Historic District. It is situated in the city of Skagway and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has managed to be sure that historic buildings from the Gold Rush days are nonetheless intact. Just strolling by way of Skagway downtown will make you are feeling such as you your self have traveled again in time to when trying to find gold and grabbing a pint after was all in a day’s work.
White Pass Railway and Yukon Route Railroad
The classic locomotive takes you alongside the Chilcoot Trail the place prospectors risked their lives in search of gold. If you might be strolling round city, make your approach to Pullen Creek Stream Walk to see the salmon run.
We took one of the best of all of Skagway by taking a helicopter flight over the glaciers out to the nationwide forest in search of wildlife earlier than hopping on the historic White Pass and Yukon Railroad. We have carried out the railroad tour by itself, however extremely suggest the flight, hike and railway tour as a substitute. You solely want to experience the railway a method and this gave us one of the best of all worlds.
If you need to go much more distant, proceed on from Fairbanks to Deadhorse alongside the Dalton Highway close to the Prudhoe Bay Oil fields and the Arctic Ocean. We haven’t carried out this drive, however we’ve got been up to the Arctic Ocean in the neighboring Northwest Territories in Canada and the surroundings right here is actually magnificent.
The Dalton Highway is taken into account some of the remoted roads in the United States. It crossed the Arctic Circle and we did this on the same Dempster Highway. it’s the coolest factor to drive proper throughout the Arctic Circle. It’s actually a once-in-a-lifetime expertise. Enjoy studying our 15 Great Road Trips in America
Seward is a small city situated on the Kenai Peninsula and gives many actions for outside lovers. There are loads of issues you are able to do in Seward together with boat excursions to Kenai Fjords National Park, or the Alaska SeaLife Center which is a superb place to find out about marine life in Alaska and see sea lions, puffins, and different animals up shut.
The surrounding mountains have loads of climbing trails together with the Harding Icefield Trail and the Exit Glacier Trail.
If you need to strive a very genuine expertise, ensure that to drive the Alaska Highway from Dawson’s Creek in British Columbia. This epic highway journey crosses by way of southeast Alaska letting you see a unique aspect of the sate. We made an analogous journey alongside the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and let me inform you, there’s nothing prefer it on Earth.
The Alaska Highway is a 1400-mile journey that ends in Fairbanks, Alaska. Along the drive, you’ll encounter glaciers and mountains and grizzly bears, and extra and it’ll positively be a visit you gained’t overlook. Of course, you don’t have to take the freeway, you’ll be able to merely take a airplane and land your self in one in every of Alaska’s massive cities.
Kenai Fjords National Park
The Kenai Fjords National Park in the Kenai Peninsula is without doubt one of the greatest locations to go to in Alaska with glaciers, an icefield, and bears and seals lolling about. The greatest approach to see this distant vacation spot is to get out on a cruise the place you may get out on kayaks to discover the fjords.
Make certain to go to the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Centre in Seward earlier than you head out to find out about path situations and the Kenai Peninsula earlier than you head into the park. And don’t miss seeing Exit Glacier situated simply 10 minutes from Seward, it’s one in every of Alaska’s most accessible roadside glaciers.
Kenai Fjords National Park was a nationwide monument after which turned a National park designed to defend the misty fjords, rainforest, and wildlife that make up the world. Today, the Kenai Peninsula is a beloved a part of the native Anchorage neighborhood because it’s only a two-hour drive outdoors of town.
Wrangell Elias National Park
It’s bigger than Yellowstone National Park, in reality, it’s bigger than all North American nationwide parks, Wrangell St. Elias National Park is America’s largest nationwide park at a whopping 13.2 million acres. It’s a nationwide treasure that few individuals get to see. Check out America’s first nationwide park: Best issues to do in Yellowstone NP.
The park is stuffed with volcanoes and glaciers and the distinctive panorama attracts all types of wildlife like mountain goats and brown bears (similar as grizzly bears) Wrangell St Elias National Park is a component tundra and temperate rainforest. It can be residence to moose, Dall sheep, bison, goats, and caribou.
One of probably the most attention-grabbing belongings you would possibly see is ice worms. From the identify, you’d assume they need to be see-through or white, however ice worms are literally black and you’ll see them by way of frozen surfaces. If you’re a fowl watcher, you’ll love the Copper River Basin Area which is a part of the migratory route of quite a few fowl species. Additionally, you’ll doubtless see bald eagles, swans, ravens, and owls too.
While summertime in Alaska offers guests the possibility to expertise the midnight solar with practically 24 hours of daylight, when the cooler temperatures arrive you can also make a visit to Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
The greatest time to see the northern lights in Alaska is in winter or late autumn and early spring. Light air pollution can be your enemy so if you need to get the true Aurora expertise, one of the best locations to go to can be outdoors of Alaska’s massive cities. You can ask the lodge that you just’re staying at to wake you when the lights are out as fairly a variety of resorts in Alaska supply this service.
To view the Aurora Borealis keep on the Northern Sky Lodge in Fairbanks. The lodge is nestled amongst 21 acres, solely half-hour from Fairbanks International Airport and 90 minutes from Denali National Park. It makes for an important base to discover the inside of Alaska.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
To actually respect the Alaskan local weather and way of life it’s positively a good suggestion to study concerning the indigenous historical past of the state. Your go to to the Alaska Native Heritage Center provides you with a glimpse into the lives of 11 Alaska cultures together with the Haida and Tsimshian First Nations whose territory goes proper into Canada and down into British Columbia.
You will get to watch conventional dancing, meet Indigenous artists, and even go to dwellings that offer you an opportunity to expertise how the Indigenous individuals lived in the winter in Alaska earlier than there was electrical energy.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
The historic Iditarod Trail is greatest identified today for the Iditarod Dog Sledding Race however prior to the race, it was a route utilized by Native Americans prior to the introduction of different automobiles.
This path took of us 50 miles north of Seward all the best way to Nome. They weren’t simply going for a leisurely mush nonetheless, these of us carried heavy provides to distant communities. Dog sleds performed an necessary half in Native transportation and Europeans that got here after additionally adopted this environment friendly transportation technique in the tough northern local weather.
These days you can also make your personal reminiscences on the path by strolling it or utilizing a tour operator that can take you on a conventional canine sled on the path. The Iditarod Dog Sledd Race takes place in March and attracts a number of consideration. If you occur to be there throughout that point it’s positively one thing you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re a little bit of a romantic then the concept of taking a railroad throughout the wilderness will get you excited. The Alaska Railroad was established in 1903 and nonetheless runs in the present day. It traverses nearly 500 miles from Seward up to Fairbanks with stops alongside the best way.
If you desire a snug go to whereas trying out the Alaskan wilderness, you must guide a seat on the Alaska Railroad. The ticket worth will range primarily based on how far you journey and which cabin you determine to guide. Additionally, you’ll be able to take pleasure in breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees in your journey whereas having fun with the fantastic thing about the Pacific Ocean, Alaska glaciers, rivers and mountains.
Prince William Sound
It is actually a surprising sight to see so many salmon all in one place. If you’re searching for a enjoyable day journey then look no additional than Prince William Sound.
The Sound is situated on the south finish of Alaska with unbelievable surroundings and is without doubt one of the prettiest locations you’ll go to. You can take a ship tour out to go to the sound and likewise take pleasure in a scrumptious meal on the water. The Sound is surrounded by glaciers and the largest tidewater glacier is the Columbia Glacier.
You’ll really feel what a goldfish seems like as the environment appear larger than life. There can be a number of wildlife in the world so preserve your digital camera helpful for epic pics you’ll be able to have a look at time and again. This may not be some of the well-known Alaska locations, however you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring scene for those who determine to be one of many few that go to.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
If you need to assure to view Alaska’s wildlife then you must try the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The middle goals to defend and protect the wildlife of Alaska by way of schooling and analysis.
The middle is situated off the Seward Highway close to the Portage Valley Glacier on Turnagain Arm. It is 200-acres of pure surprise as you get an opportunity to see bison, coyotes, bears, and different wildlife up shut. The conservation middle is sectioned off into areas for various wildlife. You can drive by way of, park your automobile after which take a walkthrough.
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
First established to defend the nice brown bears that stay on Kodiak Island, in the present day the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge protects a complete lot extra. Sitting shut to 2,000,000 acres the refuge encompasses Ben Island and components of Kodiak Island, Uganik Island, the Red Peaks, and Afognak Island.
It is stuffed with rivers and streams and is a nesting floor for a number of hundred species of birds together with the Bald Eagle. Today the mission of the refuge isn’t solely simply defend the brown bears, but additionally to preserve all wildlife, sea lions, and fish populations in the world.
It is an enormous breeding floor for 5 species of salmon that additionally feed the a whole bunch of birds that stay on the island. This is arms down among the best locations to go to in Alaska. The space is barely accessible by floatplane or boat so if you need to go to, you positively ought to plan forward.
Bonus Alaska Adventure
If you’re looking to go off the crushed path, it’s your decision to guide a visit to the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. It is situated in northern Alaska, excessive above the Arctic Circle. It is without doubt one of the most distant and least visited nationwide parks in the United States.
The park covers 8.4 million acres and contains each the Brooks Range mountains and the Arctic tundra. There are not any roads or trails in the park, and guests have to be self-sufficient and ready for the difficult situations of the Arctic wilderness.
Access to the park is proscribed to small planes and helicopters, and guests should get hold of permits earlier than getting into the park. Despite its remoteness, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a well-liked vacation spot for backpackers, hikers, and outside lovers who’re drawn to the pristine wilderness and beautiful landscapes of the Arctic.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the prettiest locations in Alaska?
If you go to any of the nationwide parks in Alaska, you can be assured of discovering a fairly place. Nothing actually beats Glacier Bay National Park however Katmai National Park is without doubt one of the prettiest locations round. Katmai National Park and Preserve can be among the best locations to see brown bears in the wild. Many individuals guide this tour at Brooks Camp.
What must you keep away from in Alaska?
If you aren’t a seasoned hiker or climber, it’s greatest to keep away from the glaciers and simply view them from afar or rent a information or tour to see them with an expert. Additionally, it’s best to keep off unmarked trails until you might be very skilled, and don’t enterprise to the backcountry until you might have expertise.
What is the easiest way to see Alaska in 10 days?
The greatest approach to see Alaska in 10 days is to take a cruise ship down or head to the capital metropolis of Juneau and make your approach up from there.
And these are one of the best locations to go to in Alaska. Have you been to Alaska? Alaska is one in every of our favorite journey locations on Earth and we glance ahead to going again quickly. What did we miss and the place ought to we go subsequent?