Breathtaking scenery, gigantic glaciers, pristine forests, romantic lodges & abundant animal habitat- the best places to visit in Alaska offers this and much more.
Alaska- The Land of Majestic Wilderness
Alaska is as vast as it is captivating. The magnificence of this region is impossible to apprehend without witnessing with your own eyes!
Natural grandeur and several choices for outdoor winter activities are available. Uninhabited and extensive wilderness vanquish tiny hamlets and major commercial centers. You can opt for hiking, paddling, or fishing, amongst many other activities.
Alaska has something to offer to every visitor- for the adventure lover and the ones looking for a lazy vacation. The Wildlands in The Last Border attracts visitors from around the globe. In Alaska, a visitor can find the highest peak in North America. You can watch the Northern Lights and the midnight sun light up the night sky. You may also drive along the 1,500 km long Alaska Highway. Additionally, you can explore Alaska’s picturesque towns and villages.
It can be overwhelming to plan a trip to Alaska because of its numerous appeals and places to visit. If you wish to successfully put together many Alaskan experiences that you can never forget, you require a well-compiled itinerary. In this article, we are listing the 12 best places to visit in Alaska this year.
The Top 12 Places To Visit In Alaska Are:
1. The Glacier Bay – National Park and Preserve
Glacier Bay, in Alaska, is the crown jewel of the cruise ships industry and a dreamy spot for any paddler. The Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve, spanning over 3 million acres with varying terrains. Thus, it is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
The Glacier Bay Park, named for its abundant tidewater and terrestrial glaciers, consists of roughly 1,000 glaciers. Lying at the junction of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates, it experiences extensive earthquakes and post-glacial rebounds. The coastal mountains are still growing. Hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, and bird-watching, are some of the several activities in the area.
There are seven tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay Park. Most glaciers have been thinning and slowly receding over the last several decades. However, some glaciers continue to advance. The rapidly advancing and retreating glaciers heavily impact the prevailing landscapes of the region. Extensive stretches of rugged coastlines, rainforests, and deep fjords cover the area. Precious metals like gold, copper, and molybdenite are mined here.
Glacier Bay is also a prime humpback whale habitat. Several other wild animals, such as porpoises, beavers, moose, black-tailed deer, and mountain goats, can be found in their natural habitat. Wildlife in the area includes bears, wolves, coyotes, and Canadian lynx. Bird watchers can spot several species of eagles, woodpeckers, hawks, and owls.
Entry into The Glacier Bay Park is free of cost. The Alaska Marine Highway leads a convenient path towards Glacier Bay Park from Juneau. You can also take a boat trip to watch the glaciers.
2. Denali National Park and Preserve
One of the best places to visit in Alaska is the Denali National Park. The Denali National Park and Preserve is the third-largest national park in the USA. It is home to the highest mountain ranges in the country. This 200000-acre region includes mountain ranges, glaciers, and many secluded lakes, making it one of the best Alaska destinations. Only park-approved buses can travel to the Savage River.
This national park is a protected wilderness area where all kinds of wildlife can be seen. You can spot several bears, moose, wolves, reindeer, elk, and other animals while walking along the Savage River, admiring the serenity of Wonder Lake, or hiking through Polychrome Pass.
You can enjoy whitewater rafting, hiking, and backcountry camping, the most popular ways to explore the Denali National Park and Preserve. For a comfortable, peaceful trip, visitors can opt to take bus tours to get around the national park. Ranger-led short trail walks are available from the Denali Visitor Center.
The vegetation changes according to the altitude, from mixed forests at the lower slopes to tundra below the snowline. In summers, the mountain slopes are covered with various flowering plants.
The Denali Star train is the most northern railway route in the U.S. Even after 100 years after it opened, it is still working as an upscale train that runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Passing through picturesque hamlets and forests, it offers beautiful vistas for visitors.
3. Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier, extending 12km from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall lake, is among Alaska’s most popular tourist attractions. This ice is about one mile wide and 1000 feet high. Two-thirds have reduced the glacial surface since the early 17th century.
Stunningly sapphire colors are produced by crystalline structures that influence the light reflecting from ice in the atmosphere. The beautiful vistas that get permanently etched in a traveler’s mind make it one of Alaska’s best places to visit.
You can view the glacier by kayak or helicopter. Many popular glaciers activities include ice climbing and exploration of glacier caves. Several well-maintained hiking trails direct towards glaciers, lakes, and to the Nugget Falls. You can also opt for a shuttle ride to see the glacier.
The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center glimpses over both the glacier and the iceberg-dotted waters.
In this 5,815 acres area, you can spot wildlife such as black bears, porcupines, mountain goats, beavers, and salmon in the nearby streams. The best time to visit is from May to October when there is more sunshine.
Due to rising global temperatures, some scientists believe the glacier will disappear in 25 years.
Sitka is a small, Alaska-based jewel of the island of the rich natural beauty, cultural traditions, and culture. The hamlet is located in the Alexander Archipelago on the west side of Baranof Island. Sitka is surrounded by the snow-covered mountains blanketed with old pine forests that grew to the shore.
The countless tiny islands in the archipelago welcome thousands of visitors each year. Sitka enjoys an oceanic climate with moderate and cool temperatures and abundant precipitation and therefore is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
Sitka is the city in which Americans bought Alaska by Russia, and this event is celebrated annually, with great pride. Historically the indigenous Sitka people’s cultural heritage contributes to the city’s vitality. The spectacular surroundings make it ideal for outdoor adventures.
You can go out for hikes in nature, kayaking, and even fly on a seaplane and explore the authentic wilderness of volcanoes, islands, forests, and glaciers. You can also spend a day visiting one of the numerous historical sites in Sitka.
5. Inside Passage
The Inside Passage is a passageway for ships and boats. It is a network of routes that interweave through the islands on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The Passage extends from southeastern Alaska through Canada to northwestern Washington state in the United States. The coming together of cultures and the diversity of nature is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
The Inside Passage is heavily traveled by cruise ships, freighters, fishing boats, pleasure crafts, and Marine ships.
You can take a trip to the Inside Passage on charter boats and privately owned yachts in the summers. Most of the cruises offer round-trips from Seattle and Vancouver. Alternate routes to the Inside Passage are via Haines, Skagway, and Skagway, which can be reached by motorcar.
Located in Southwestern Alaska, this region offers incredible views of the sea, mountains, and glaciers and is a rich habitat for wild animals. It is also home to Tlingit, Tsimshian, and the Haida people. The Tongass National Park, along the coast, spans 17 million acres and includes islands, mountains, icefields, fjords, and waterfalls.
Inside Passage often refers to the ocean and islands around the Passage itself. You can enjoy boating, kayaking, fishing, camping, and hiking on the Passage Islands. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy bird watching, whale watching, and even bear spotting in the area. Designated bear viewing is available at Anan Creek near Wrangell and Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary on Admiralty Island near Juneau.
The mysterious curtain of rotating, flowing, ever changeable green and blue glow that lights the sky- Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis lures many visitors to Fairbanks in Alaska. Fairbanks, being an incredible place to watch the magic of nature, is one of the best places to visit in Alaska. It is the biggest and coldest city in interior Alaska, and it is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
Turning the sky into an artist’s canvas, witness the magnificent aurora borealis and the midnight sun. The sunsets and sunrises appear to last for a whole day. The Aurora Season lasts from mid-August to mid-April, while the Midnight Sun Season lasts from mid-April to mid-August, when the town experiences almost 24 hours of sunlight.
The town has a central location close to the northernmost pole, known as Auroral Oval. Its continental climate allows for clear nights than other parts of the coastline. More often, in these areas, light is present, and it’s more vivid and mesmerizing than everywhere else. The most comfortable period is during nighttime and early mornings.
Secluded mountain ranges, pristine rivers, lakes, and rich wildlife cover the area. You can travel to Fairbanks, a remote locale, and still enjoy all the luxuries of a charming downtown, a thriving arts community, rich Alaska Native culture, and attractions.
Girdwood is a charming resort town in Alaska surrounded by the Chugach Mountains peaks. Girdwood lying in the lap of the lush forests and seven permanent glaciers is one of the best places to visit in Alaska. The town offers year-round recreation, and therefore it is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
Girdwood offers excellent options of Nordic skiing, snowmobiles, fishing, hiking, riding, wildlife observation, and rafting. You can visit the Chugach Powder Guides for snowcat skiing or helicopter skiing. The aerial trail with a panoramic view of the lake and glacial ice, as viewed from the Alyeska Resort, is simply breathtaking.
The town of Girdwood is easily accessible by the Seward Highway through cars and buses. The Girdwood Forest Fair, held every July, attracts several visitors to this small mountain town. It also serves as the closest point of access to Chugach National Forest. Several movies about the Klondike Goldrush have been filmed in Girdwood. It is also home to some famous politicians and Olympic medalists.
Homer is a quirky and enchanting village in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The city is famous for its excellent fishery, spectacular nature, amazing culinary and arts scenes. The city of Homer, famously called the Halibut Fishing Capital of the entire world, is one of the best places to visit in Alaska. The Kenai mountains to the south and east provide a breathtaking backdrop and keep the town warm and create exceptional warm climates.
You can go bird-watching at the Kachemak Bay Water Trail with a good pair of binoculars. One of the most significant events in Homer is the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. The festival is held annually in early May when different species visit the Kachemak Bay area during spring migration. During the spring migration and the festival, you can find birds such as sandhill cranes, horned puffins, and arctic terns.
The birds witnessed during the festival can be recognized with the help of printed guide books that index the different features such as terrain, proportions, profile, and color of the birds and their habitats.
Another notable event held at this carnival is the Bird Call Contest, where the participants mimic bird calls.
Homer has a plethora of areas consisting of various options for habitats and rich food resources that attract migrating birds. The abundance of diverse habitats such as mudflats, rocky isles, and marshlands enable many different species to thrive in the area.
You can find ample options for shopping and dining along famous roads. For a lazy vacation, you can stroll along the beach to the famous Homer Spit. You can also drive up Skyline Drive for an incredible panorama.
Homer acts as a gateway to multiple eco reserves and national parks. Wildlife enthusiasts can opt for wildlife watching in the Kachemak Bay State Park. Here you can see wild animals, such as mountain goats, sea lions, bald eagles, humpback whales, and black bears in their natural habitats.
Homer is an alluring fishing ground. Being the fishing capital of Alaska, Homer has numerous whole-day fishing trips run by the locals. You can find an impressive catch of halibut, among other fishes. The local restaurants also offer to cook up your catch for your dinner.
9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
Three mountain ranges called the Chugach, the Wrangell and St. Elias converge in an area known as the Mountain Kingdom of North America. In the heart of this area lies the largest national park in the U.S., the vast Wrangell St. Elias National Park. It is home to nine of the sixteen high-altitude peaks across America.
These magnific mountains on the Canadian frontier include numerous glaciers, lakes, and mountain streams and host a rich diversity of animal life. The Elias area offers numerous incredible climbing trails and a variety of outdoor activities. The Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park & Reserve is one of Alaska’s best places to visit.
The park is home to numeral enlightening ranger stations and tourist centers. You can correspondingly get off the beaten path and explore the glacier hiking trails and overnight camping experiences. Hunting, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking are other popular pastimes in the National Park.
The National Park is also home to a plethora of wildlife. It also includes numerous glaciers, lakes, and mountain streams. It is an ideal destination for climbers, hikers, and water sports buffs. The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark is a historical zone that provides a glimpse of the lost mill town, landmark edifices, and abandoned mines. There are numerous backcountry cabins, primarily accessible by flying into remote airstrips.
You can also visit the Voyageurs National Park Camping.
10. Iditarod Trail
The Iditarod Trail is one of the best places to visit in Alaska as it is the only national historic trail in the region. Previously known as the Seward-to-Nome Trail, ancient hunters of the Alaskan native peoples and gold prospectors used this trail. The Iditarod Trail stretches over 1600 km from Nome on the Bering Strait to Seward at Anchorage. As gold was discovered around Nome in 1908, several thousands of people flooded this trail. Roadhouses and dog barns opened up along the road for the visitors.
The route of the Iditarod Trail crosses several mountain ranges and valleys and passes through numerous historical settlements en route from Seward to Nome. An extensive medley of terrains surrounds each route offering exquisite vistas of mountains. It is open for hikers in both the winters and in the summers.
However, only a few trails are available in the summer, including the famous Crow Pass trails at Chugach. Hiking along the trail, you can discover the abandoned towns of Dikeman and Dishkaket and picturesque villages.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is especially renowned in the modern-day. It monumentalizes the last significant gold rush in America to the Iditarod goldfields. It is celebrated to commemorate the significant role that the trail and its dog sleds played in the growth of Alaska.
The route and a string of adjoining trails have been designated the Iditarod National Historic Trail. The amalgamation of peace and adventure makes it one of Alaska’s best places to visit.
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, although it is not the capital city. It serves as the economic heart of Alaska. Almost 40 percent of the residents of Alaska live in or around the city of Anchorage.
Anchorage is almost equidistant from New York City, Tokyo, and Frankfurt and lies within 10 hours by air transport of practically most industrialized world. Anchorage has all amenities, facilities, and comforts of a large American city while existing at the crux of the rich Alaskan wilderness.
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The exceptional surroundings of Anchorage provide peaceful harmony amongst hikers and road traffic. You can encounter sparkling glaciers, vast parks and trails, abundant wildlife, and dazzling northern lights. Several art galleries, major retail chains, and restaurants, a web of city pathways meanders through obscured green belts and a creek that leads downtown. Anchorage is practically the culmination of all that is to do in Alaska in one place, thus making it one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
A diverse wildlife population exists within the city and its surroundings. Brown and black bears, sheep, and moose can be sighted within the city limits. Other wildlife in the area includes timberwolves, beavers, foxes, and kits. Along the Seward Highway, you might catch glimpses of beluga whales. Fishing for salmon at Ship Creek next to downtown is a popular activity in the summer.
Art and history lovers are lured by the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. Tourists also opt for the famous road trip driving along the Seward Highway to Potter’s Marsh. You can enjoy a fantastic time watching birds and animals in their natural habitats. You can also hike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
The Municipality and Borough of Skagway have a rich history and spectacular natural setting, offering unparalleled sightseeing and amusement opportunities. These features make it one of the best places to visit in Alaska. You can almost feel gold rush excitement at Skagway. Wooden streets, old saloons, and shops accompanied by people dressed in clothing from the 19th century greet visitors today. Today, all these items make up a sizeable natural museum in Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.
History buffs will enjoy the National Park Service’s multi-media version of the Skagway story and the stage shows depicting history and poetry. You can also enjoy live music in the many lounges and saloons scattered across the city.
The unique attractions in Skagway include the Chilkoot Trail has the world’s longest outdoor museum. You can stroll through the numerous gardens or drive down the Golden Circle Route. Adventure lovers can explore the Lynn Canal, the deepest and longest fjord in North America, on a Motorized Raft. The port of Skagway is prominent for cruise ships.
White Pass and Yukon Route’s mining routes narrow-gauge Alaska railroad are in operation in the summer months for visitors. Skagway is popularly known for being part of the setting for different types of books The Call of the Wild, Jason’s Gold, and Guardian.
Physically distinct from the remainder of the country, Alaska is one of the most picturesque and captivating regions of the United States. Its separateness merely adds to the enigmatic loveliness of the 49th state, making it an appealing getaway spot for intrepid travelers and nature lovers.
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