Alaska National Parks Alaska National Parks

The 8 Best Alaska National Parks and National Preserves

After touring a significant portion of all the national parks in the world, one begins to yearn for a location that challenges and tests visitors before rewarding them.

Several outstanding public parks can be found in Alaska National Parks. It takes a lot of work to visit an Alaska National Park, especially if it’s one that can only be reached by boat or plane. 

Welcome to Alaska's National Parks!


Alaska’s vast wilderness is home to a range of famous wild creatures, including earth-toned sea lions, brown bears, brown bears, wolves, caribou, musk, wolves, and musk bulls, as well as ocean otters, killer whales, and bald eagles, despite the state’s brutal winter cold.

Bear viewing is one of the most popular activities in Alaska National Parks. Alaska National Parks is a wild spot, and a portion of its generally wild and stunning normal miracles are safeguarded as National Parks. More than 60% of this immense wild is safeguarded by the Reserves and Alaska National Parks.

Alaska brown bear
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Alaska National Parks have stunning natural wonders. To make an Alaska trip happen, resources and opportunities are required. It’s worth spending on an Alaska trip; every place has something otherworldly.

Towards the end of the post, you’ll know the stuff to visit each one – and comprehend which ones will fit in your own Alaska trip budget and schedule.

1. Denali National Park Road

One of the most enchanting Alaska National Parks is without a doubt Denali. The highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali, is located there. The actual mountain has an otherworldly appearance. The enormous Mt. Denali can usually be seen from as far away as Anchorage.

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Photo by Barth Bailey from Unplash

If tourists wish to visit Denali National Park, they should not miss a transit outing to the recreation area (there may be no other way to arrive but by tour flights). There are a few other alternatives and visits to consider for wildlife viewing. The Eielson Visitor Center offers one of the most stunning vistas of Mount Denali.

With a “Camper Bus,” tourists can spend a few days in the wilderness. The experience of hiking in Denali National Park is very unique. If one may choose hiking trails, start at the ranger office to obtain a license and learn about setting up camp safely in a bear viewing area.

Denali doesn’t bother with defined hiking paths except for a few little strolls near the park entry; tourists are encouraged to wander and camp anywhere they like.

The best time to visit Denali National Park is in the late spring, generally from June to August. Planning a journey to the Alaska National Parks to last only a few days is advisable. The longer one stays, the more likely it is to see the spectacular Mt. Denali, which is only visible 1/3 of the time. This travel guide to Alaska contains a wealth of information.

northen lights
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If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights while visiting Alaska National Parks in the winter, between the protracted periods of September and April, use this visit from Healy and travel to the Denali national park road region.

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park, southeast Alaska, is arguably one of the most renowned national parks to visit. The north of 660,000 sections of land is covered by Alaska National Park, which is quite possibly one of the least visited US national parks despite its incredible icy masses, wildlife, and views.

kenai fjords national park
Photo by Kedar Gadge on Unsplash

Exit Glacier, the primary attraction in the recreation area that leads to Exit Glacier, and the natural park’s vast wilderness encourage campers to camp and go hiking because there are numerous trails in the national park. Kenai Fjords National Park is known for its fascination with Exit Glacier.

Despite this, the majority of visitors to Kenai Fjords NP stay indoors. the boat trip through the lovely fjords, which are home to some of North America’s most amazing species. 

The best strategy for visiting the Kenai Fjords is to move toward Seward, the town closest to the recreation area. From Seward harbor, there are a few lodging options, cozy lodges, restaurants, and excursions (like this 6-hour trip to the Kenai Fjords). This is undoubtedly one of Alaska’s most incredible places for nature lovers to visit.

3. Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

Despite the excellence of each National Park in Alaska, none of them can match Wrangell-St. Elias. With 13 million acres and a range of ecosystems, from temperate rainforest to freezing tundra, St. Elias National Park is the biggest national park in the United States.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is roughly the size of Costa Rica and is twice that of Denali. The journey from Anchorage to the recreation area actually covers three different mountain ranges and takes 7.5 hours.

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Photo by BlueBarronPhoto from Shutterstock

Ice sheets, lava springs, and mountain pinnacles are some of the popular attractions in the recreation region. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park contains nine of the country’s top 16 mountains. Huge glaciers and soaring peaks can be found on the Nabesna Glacier in the recreation area.

The Reserves and Alaska National Parks safeguard more than 60% of this immense wilderness. Additionally, this region makes up more than half of the total size of all American National Park areas due to Alaska’s extensive wilderness.

The world’s largest non-polar valley glacial mass is found in Nabesna Glacier. Similar to the Wrangell mountain range, a portion of the mountain ranges in the recreation area are also volcanic. 

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is one of the most easily accessible parks in Alaska, in contrast to most national parks’ smokey atmospheres. McCarthy is a good place to start while researching the recreation area.

For two or three days, one can rent a small lodge or stay at one of the nearby hotels. Climbing, pack rafting, ice moving, and multi-day excursions into the wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is all activities that guides provide in the Kennicott Wilderness.

4. Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park
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A cold wonderland of snow-covered mountains and tidewater glacial masses is Glacier Bay, National Park. Several obligations, including being a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, protect this sprawling wild retreat.

The recreation area can only be explored by boat, foot, or small plane due to its remote location and lack of roads. Traveling by ship is the easiest and most popular way to see Glacier Bay, National Park. A few cruise ships stop in Glacier Bay as part of their tour through Alaska in the late spring.

For independent travelers, head for Gustavus, a small town that serves as the park’s entrance.

There are a few convenient options near the shoreline in case-independent tourists decide to stay in Gustavus for a short while. From here, travel to Bartlett Cove at the Glacier Bay park entrance.

Once at Bartlett Cove, speak with the locals and stop by the visitor’s center to ask for advice on what to do while visiting Glacier Bay National Park. As a result, the further into Glacier Bay you drive, the more diverse the scenery becomes, with huge Sitka tidies and hemlock giving way to cottonwoods, scraggly birch, sketchy lichen, and exposed rock.

The daylong boat trip through Glacier Bay is the main event. During this trip, we will travel to the inlet’s outermost point, where there are numerous tidewater glacier bays, the largest of which is Margerie Glacier. Watch out for falling ice as this dynamic icy mass frequently calves!

While out on the water, you might spot sea lions, harbor seals, ocean otters, and whales, so keep your optics close by.

Due to the fact that Glacier Bay National Park is a protected area, there are specific visitor regulations to follow in order to obtain the necessary permits for camping and recreational sailing. It is best to become familiar with the policies of the Glacier Bay National Park beforehand.

5. Katmai National Park

The Katmai Park and Preserve in southern Alaska is home to brown bears and the Valley of Ten Thousand Clouds of Smoke. One of Alaska’s most incredible spots to observe bears is Katmai, home to an estimated 2,200 of the world’s protected brown bears.

The region also guards the valley of liquid magma fountains. The recreation area contains up to 18 volcanoes, seven of which have been actively erupting since about 1900.

Katmai National Park in Alaska National parks
Photo by Pradeep Nayak on Unsplash

Photographers and anyone who loves to see wildlife will find paradise in Katmai National Park. Sockeye salmon are abundant in the area, which is why brown bears adore it. At Brooks Camp in Katmai, where brown bears congregate to benefit from sockeye salmon, it is possible to see bears and even catch them.

The natural rivers, Brooks Falls, and observation areas for wildlife are all present. In the Valley of Ten Thousand Clouds of Smoke, doors are also open for rock climbing, fishing, and exploring the volcanoes.

Alaska Peninsula
Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

The recreation area is located on the Alaska Peninsula, about 290 miles (470 km) southwest of Anchorage. No streets lead to the recreation area. Flying from Anchorage to King Salmon and taking a boat or floatplane from King Salmon to the recreation area are the best ways to get there.

Only one lodge is available for tourists to stay in when visiting Alaska national parks. To reserve a room, fill out a lottery application at Brooks Lodge. There is, however, a tent camping area that is more easily preserved.

6. Lake Clark National Park

Bear Viewing at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Anchorage sits across the river from Lake Clark National Park, but the easiest ways to get there are by air taxi or boat during particular seasons. A good place to start your exploration of the National Park is Port Alsworth, a little community of about 150 people. Here, you can visit the Lake Clark Visitor Center and rent a lodge on the lake.

Brown bears are a famous feature of Lake Clark National Park, just like they are in Katmai National Park to the south. In search of cinches and salt marsh flora, hungry bears congregate in large numbers on the mudflats of Cook Inlet beach every spring as they emerge from hibernation.

In Lake Clark National Park, Chinitna Bay, Crescent Lake, Silver Salmon Creek, Shelter Creek, and Tuxedni Bay are excellent locations to see bears. There are no streets in the leisure area, hence the only way to access these areas is by air taxi.

Climb some of the stunning pathways through the perfect Alaskan wilderness while keeping extra time on hand and planning a proper itinerary to visit Alaska national parks. It is best to use a national park service that includes a manual guide if you plan to climb off-trail or for a short period of time.

7. Gates of the Arctic National Park

This is the last really wild place left in the wake of modern human development. There are no roads or trails that cross the vast (8 million acres) landscape of the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Living off the earth, as native people have done for millennia, and sharing the environment with caribou, wolves, mountain bears, and shaggy musk bulls is the greatest way to survive here.

Gates of the artic
Photo by Sauvage on Unsplash

The rocky Dalton Highway, which is the closest road to the Gates of the Arctic boundary, can also be used to access the park entrance. It is not advisable to attempt a climb in this challenging and remote environment; instead, stay at one of the national parks’ guest houses in Fairbanks, Coldfoot, or Bettles.

However, once you enter the park, be prepared to rely on your instincts, accept the solitude and stillness, and be surrounded by the magnificent, gigantic, yet unforgiving old sight.

Additionally, it doesn’t seem like a test of exploring the Gates of the Arctic alone; instead, it feels more like a coordinated tour like this one. Alternatively, use the luxurious fly-in Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge at the edge of the national park as your base to explore the nearby public park.

8. Kobuk Valley National Park

The Kobuk Valley is renowned for having the largest dynamic sand hills in the freezing tundra and for being one of the most untamed and remote national parks in the world, comparable to Gates of the Arctic.

The weather in the hills is perfect for climbing and setting up camp. It is enough to stay active on the trails for a few days, or you can fly in from Kotzebue for the day with Golden Eagle Outfitters.

2013 0728 Kobuk Valley National Park: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes #2

The recreation area is accessible in the summer by boat, air taxi, or by climbing inside. The options for entering the park during the winter include air cabs, snowmobiles, and old climbs.

A planned expedition makes it easier to explore Kobuk Valley, much like it is with the majority of Alaska National Parks. For instance, Onion Portage Adventures offers a base inside the recreation area as well as a variety of activities such as fishing, hill climbing, boating, mushing, a stream drifting, reviewing untamed life, and climbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Are Alaska’s Main National Parks?

There are eight national parks in Alaska, with the most well-known being Denali National Park and Preserve, followed by Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords National Parks.

2. Which Season Is Ideal for Visiting Alaska’s National Parks?

Generally speaking, June through August, when the weather is nice and the days are long, is the busiest time for tourists to visit Alaska’s national parks. However, the shoulder seasons of May and September sometimes have greater offers and less crowding.

3. What Are Denali National Park’s Primary Draws?

Grizzly bears, caribou, and moose are among the numerous species of wildlife found in Denali National Park’s immense wilderness. The park also contains Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, which is the tallest peak in North America and can be seen on clear days from specific vantage points.

4. How Can I Tour Glacier Bay National Park’s Glaciers?

Famous for its breathtaking glaciers, Glacier Bay National Park is accessible by boat trip or kayak expedition. To learn more about the nature and history of the park, visitors can also stroll the adjacent trails or stop by the Glacier Bay Lodge.

Final Words

This guide provides a smart thought of which National Parks of Alaska is the most ideal choices for the traveler to visit Alaska National Parks.

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Photo by Lukas Bischoff Photograph from Shutterstock

Yet, in the event it still creates haze, and one actually can’t conclude which park to visit, One can decide on the smartest possible scenario – Brown bears and Denali, on this 7-Day Brown Bears and Denali National Park Adventure Or massive glaciers. Alaska National Parks won’t disappoint you for sure because they are the best in the USA.

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Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Steffy Michael