When it comes to breathtaking natural landscapes and impromptu encounters with a myriad of wildlife, there is no other state quite like Alaska. Renowned as “The Last Frontier”, Alaska may have been admitted into the union as the 49th state but it certainly jumps right to the very top in terms of amazing beauty. If you have yet to visit Alaska, where have you been? Ok, so we only recently visited Alaska but we can attest that this is one spectacular state that we can’t wait to revisit in the future.
We are delighted to collaborate with Mary Solio from The World is a Book to discuss some of the best reasons to visit Alaska. This is one post that is near impossible to put together in just 5 reasons because there is so much to see and explore once you arrive in Alaska. It may be one of the two most difficult states to reach alongside Hawaii but it’s worth the effort!
While some may envision Eskimos and igloos, Alaska is actually one of the best places to spend a vacation whether by land or sea. We’ve done the 7-day Alaska cruise twice during the summer and hope to do a land-based tour soon. It is one of the most pristine and beautiful places we’ve visited. Americas 49th state offers a myriad of adventures, history, and unforgettable scenery.
Many visitors venture to Alaska to see the jaw-dropping scenery of unspoiled nature, majestic mountains, glaciers, fjords, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and the National Parks. Cruising along the Inside Passage and seeing the remote villages with picturesque backdrop was one of the highlights of our trips. Some cities, like Sitka, are only accessible by water or air.
Alaska has some of the world’s most scenic highways like the Seward Highway or Denali Park Road perfect for an unforgettable road trip. The trains also offer memorable journeys through the stunning landscapes. Check out the Denali Star or Coastal Classic routes. If you’re on a shore excursion in Skagway, we highly recommend the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.
Alaska is one of the best places for wildlife spotting. It was incredible to see many magnificent bald eagles flying overhead. Cruising on Alaskas waters gave us many opportunities to see seals and sea lions on the water and even bears and whales from a distance.
Our land excursions included seeing bald eagles up close at Sitkas Alaska Raptor Center. Weve also seen hundreds of salmon swimming and jumping on a cove in Ketchikan. If you’re traveling further into Alaska, consider the Denali Park Road to see the US version of the Big 5: grizzly bears, moose, wolves, caribou and Dall sheep.
Native Culture and History
Alaska has a rich and varied history that includes the Native Indians, Russian fur traders and gold miners. Don’t miss visiting the unique museums and cultural heritage centers throughout Alaska. We loved learning about the state’s history and culture through the interesting paintings, displays, and artifacts.
Ketchikan has the world’s largest totem pole collection with several parks to see these unique hand carvings. They told the stories, heritage and legends of the Native Indians. Sitka was Russia’s major Pacific port for over 60 years and where the USA acquired it from the Russians. There are still Russian influences and historic buildings here.
The Alaska Almanac estimates that the state has about 100,000 glaciers. Glaciers are defined as a “body of snow and ice that moves”. They form when snow, ice, and rock debris move from higher elevations eventually creating layers of packed snow. Juneaus Mendenhall Glacier is the most accessible one.
Many cruises sail into Glacier Bay National Park to see these glaciers at a close but safe distance. One of our most memorable travel moments was watching the glaciers calve and hearing the thundering sound accompanying the glacial ice pieces break off. It was an incredible sight.
Alaska’s landscape offers some unique adventures on many travelers’ wish list no matter what time of year you visit. This is an outdoor paradise, especially during the summer, for kayaking, river rafting, hiking, sport fishing or scenic flightseeing.
Glacier hiking and ice climbing are also available. The midnight sun ensures you have plenty of time for these adventures. Winter is prime time for dog sledding in Denali National Park, ice fishing, hot springs dipping, heli-skiing and northern lights viewing (this tops my list).
Visit Alaska – Our Thoughts
Alaska has jumped right to the very top of our favorite states and for good reason! We spent an amazing four days exploring this beautiful state and yet we still feel like there is so much more to see. Two days in Denali National Park, one day exploring in and around Anchorage and an awesome drive from Anchorage to Seward to head out on a cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park with Major Marine Tours.
For the wildlife lovers out there, take a Denali National Park tour as this is something you cannot afford to miss. As Mary indicated, Alaska’s “Big 5” are all waiting to be discovered and we felt incredibly fortunate to experience all of these and much more. But for us the highlight has to be seeing the tallest peak in North America – Mount Denali. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in Denali to keep you occupied during your visit!
We find ourselves part of the 30% club given that 70% of visitors don’t have the opportunity to see the peak given the frequent adverse weather conditions. Trust us when we say, if you have the opportunity to see Mount Denali, it’s well worth it!
Quirky towns such as Talkeetna make the drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park an awesome experience. Perhaps you would rather take the train north from Anchorage but I think road tripping is the way to explore Alaska. It’s pretty simple given that there is really only one road that goes north to south for much of the state.
We have fond memories from many of our travels around the world but there was something quite special about our trip to Alaska. It’s fair to say that we literally fell in love with the beautiful landscapes and experiences that we encountered during our short visit.
Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to revisit Alaska in the near future because this is one part of the country that is for the most part “untouched” and we can’t help but appreciate the beauty there.
Thanks to Mary for sharing her thoughts on why you should visit Alaska. In addition to her website highlighted above, you can also follow Mary on her journey exploring the world via her social media networks:
Twitter – @WorldBookTravel
Facebook – The World Is A Book
Instagram – The World Is A Book
Have you experienced the gorgeous state that is Alaska? Are you inspired to visit Alaska and if so, what are the top things you want to do there?
An Alaskan cruise is high on my bucket list of experiences. And we also have a goal to visit all the national parks before the kids graduate from high school so we most likely will visit Alaska a few times in years to come. It looks gorgeous there!
Thanks for the opportunity to share Alaska, Chris & Heather! It is also one of our favorite states and it really was hard to narrow it down to 5.:) Have a great holiday season!
I’ve always been interested in visiting Alaska and reading your post has just given me more reason to go!