Visiting the Arctic? Planning to explore the best places to visit in Alaska. Let us explore Alaska’s top attractions.
No other state is as wild as Alaska. Alaska is 300,000 square miles larger than Rhode Island yet has a fewer population. This sparsely populated area is perfect for exploring glaciers, national parks, and the Northern Lights. If you’re not into beachside vacations, Alaska is for you. in this article will highlight some of the best places to visit in Alaska. Let us explore Alaska’s top attractions.
1. The Northern Lights
Seeing the aurora borealis in Alaska is worth the trip on its own. The Northern Lights season in Alaska runs from mid-September to late April and peaks in March, and a snow-free night is excellent. Predicting this natural event in Alaska’s interior and arctic is practically difficult.
Fairbanks, a bit below the Arctic Circle, is the ideal site to see the aurora because it occurs regularly there. Maximize your chances by tracking sun activity online before your trip.
2. Glacier Bay National Park
Alaska is the best site to watch killer whales in the wild.
This park west of Juneau showcases Alaska’s raw beauty. By staying at Glacier Park Lodge, you can walk and kayak. You may fish for halibut and rainbow trout in the rivers and observe mountain goats and black bears.
Margerie Glacier has been retreating, so you should visit it before it’s gone. The 21-mile-long, one-mile-wide glacier is only accessible by plane or sea, but if you’re lucky, you can witness calving. This natural event is accompanied by ice cracking and crashing into the ocean.
Ketchikan is Alaska’s “first city” since it’s the first city cruise passengers see when traveling north. ‘Deadliest Catch’ featured the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour. You’ll see how crab, salmon, shrimp, and other sea critters are caught. Other outdoor activities include zip-lining over salmon streams and wildlife, trekking to the summit of Deer Mountain, and flying over the Misty Fjords in a floatplane.
Visit Ketchikan’s Creek Street for a tamer Alaskan activity. This historic boardwalk in Alaska’s earliest and southernmost city was formerly a red-light district. Today’s wooden walkways spanning Ketchikan Creek are family-friendly, passing restaurants, antique shops, and museums. Near the boardwalk are signs for “Married Man’s Trail,” muddy trails historically frequented by men who wished to sneak into the area. Ketchikan is great for salmon watching, and the Salmon Ladder helps salmon spawn upstream.
It is a well-known fishing destination where you may catch trout, halibut, and many different types of salmon. Viewing bears is possible at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which protects a diverse 2,812-square-mile environment that includes everything from alpine meadows and wetlands to harsh mountains. There are over 3,500 years living here, with some males weighing around 1,500 pounds and standing over 10 feet tall. Because there are no roads in the refuge, tourists must rely on air charters to see the bears.
5. Trek Mendenhall Glacier
Trekking on the Mendenhall Glacier is yet another trip that might require a flight in a helicopter. You’ve seen pictures of the otherworldly turquoise caves of ice at the glacier, and if you find yourself in Alaska, you won’t miss the opportunity to view these for yourself. If the alternative of taking a helicopter to the glacier is not acceptable to you, another option is to take a guided hike to the glacier from Mendenhall Lake. In either case, if you go on a guided tour of the glacier, you will be given the appropriate hiking equipment to help you traverse the glacier’s icy surfaces.
Downtown Juneau is between Mount Juneau, Mount Roberts, Gastineau Channel, and the Inside Passage. Since its gold mine days, much of the architecture in its maze of narrow alleyways dates back to the early 19th century. Professional tours are a favorite pastime since they allow visitors to get up and personal with marine animals like humpback and killer whales, sea lions from Steller, and porpoises from Dall’s.
7. Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali National Park and Preserve covers nearly six million acres, including the tallest peak in North America, Mount Denali. 90-mile Park Road is a must-see. At Mile 15, shuttles and tour buses must replace private autos.
Most states recommend a trek in a national park. Here, hiking is different from what you’re used to. Denali National Park has few marked walks, usually short and near the entrance.
In this Massachusetts-sized park, wilderness hiking is encouraged, and Off-trail hiking is an Alaskan adventure. After your hike, return to the road to catch a shuttle. Denali offers hiking with a ranger, biking the Denali Park Road, and the only operational sled dog kennel in a national park.
An incredible view of snow-capped mountains, dramatic peaks, glaciers, and the famous Homer Spit, a long spit of land extending into a brilliant blue bay, awaits as you approach Homer. Homer is widely regarded as Southcentral Alaska’s cultural capital. The town is packed with art galleries, museums, theatres, and concert halls, not to mention an abundance of excellent restaurants and coffee shops.
You may go beachcombing, fishing, and bird watching on Homer Spit, a long, thin peninsula extending into Kachemak Bay. There are more bald eagles there than you can count. Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park is right over the bay, and it’s a 350,000-acre paradise full of glaciers, mountains, sheltered bays for kayaking, and miles of trails to explore on foot. To get away from the hustle of Homer and into the tranquil environment, kayakers, trekkers, and campers take water taxis.
9. Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the best place to visit in Alaska if you want to experience the extreme remote wilderness. It is the ideal starting place for exploring Alaska’s largest national park, which spans 13 million acres. It was abandoned after its mine closed in the late 1930s, but with the construction of the park in 1980, it began functioning as the primary entry for tourists who enter on McCarthy Road.
With environments ranging from temperate rain forest to arctic, there is also a remarkable range of species, including moose, frequently observed around willow bogs and lakes. Staying at Ultima Thule Lodge allows you to truly reconnect with nature, with the opportunity to observe the northern lights and explore glaciers.
10. Seward Highway
Seward is a great place to visit if you want to experience a variety of Alaska’s attractions. From Anchorage, you may take the beautiful Seward Highway through the Alaskan wilderness for an easy and enjoyable day trip. Along the journey, you’ll see the shores of Turnagain Arm, the towering, rugged peaks of the Chugach Mountains, waterfalls, azure-colored glaciers, and glittering valley lakes. Moose, eagles, and bears are just some animals that could be seen on your travels. When you get close to Seward, you’ll see Resurrection Bay, where you can spot humpback whales, orcas, harbor seals, porpoises, otters, and sea lions in their natural habitat. In addition, bald eagles can be observed soaring overhead or resting on tree limbs if you keep your eyes peeled.
You may go beachcombing in one of the many hidden coves around the bay by renting a kayak or using a water taxi, or you can paddle to tidewater caverns, bird rookeries, and sea lion hangouts. The coastal trail to Caines Head is one of the best walks in the state and is five miles long. Alternatively, you can stroll a mile along the beach.
11. Silver Bay, Sitka
Traveling to Sitka, Alaska, on Baranof Island, off the southern tip of Alaska, is an adventure in and of itself. Located on the island’s western coast, it is the only settlement in the Inside Passage to have direct access to the Pacific Ocean. Towering over the town is Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano with a cone reminiscent of Japan’s Mount Fuji. Besides its many excellent eateries, exciting boutiques, and prestigious art galleries, downtown also boasts no less than 25 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kayaking, fishing, whale watching, and hiking are just a few activities tourists may enjoy in Sitka, Alaska, thanks to the magnificent, spectacular landscape.
Yakutat, a beautiful village on Monti Bay, is a popular destination for steelhead and salmon anglers. However, the area offers much more, including stunning beaches with excellent big-wave surfing and towering glaciers. Miles of beautiful sandy beaches scattered with driftwood and the occasional glass ball make for excellent beachcombing.
Lovely hiking paths may be found in the settlement area, such as the challenging journey to Situk Lake and the more relaxed journey to Russell Fjord. Brown bears, eagles, and moose can be seen on land, while humpback, grey, orca, beluga, minke whales, harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and sea otters can be seen in Yakutat Bay.
13. Kenai Fjords National Park
Seward’s Kenai Fjords boasts 607,000 acres of snow, ice, long fjords, and hundreds of peaceful bays and coves, as well as a wide variety of animals, such as harbor seals, Steller sea lions, sea otters, moose, black bears, wolverines, mountain goats, and coyotes. As a remnant of the huge ice sheet that covered much of Alaska in the Pleistocene era, it provides water to over three dozen glaciers that flow down the mountains.
Kayaking, camping, fishing, beachcombing, biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, boat trips, flightseeing, mountaineering, and much more are all possible in the park.
Nome, located only 190 miles from the Siberian coast, is best known as the end of the Iditarod Trail. It also has active gold mining and beautiful backcountry roads through the tundra. It’s a fantastic area that combines the state’s gold rush history with Inupiat Eskimo culture and various fauna.
While it is only accessible by air or boat, once there, you can explore the roads connecting to other Seward Peninsula villages, passing through coastal plains and stunning mountains. Gold rush artifacts may be found almost everywhere, from abandoned mining claims to deteriorating trestles and even turn-of-the-century steam engines. Reindeer and musk oxen, which graze just off the side of the road, are among the local fauna to keep an eye out for. The area is also home to moose, bears, wolves, foxes, and wolverines.
15. Misty Fjords Reflections
In the Tongass National Forest, just 20 miles east of Ketchikan, you’ll find the Misty Fjords National Monument, the state’s largest wilderness area. There are high fjords and sea cliffs, as well as rock walls that climb over three thousand feet above the water. The site is almost always wet. Therefore, the monument is covered in lush rain forests that grow on nearly vertical slopes from sea level to the mountain summits. Numerous spectacular waterfalls can be seen cascading down the landscape.
Fjords in the area are best discovered by kayak, while sightseeing flights and boat tours are also offered. Based on your type of transportation, you can observe black bears, moose, martens, wolves, mountain goats on land, and killer whales and Dall’s porpoises in the ocean.
Talkeetna is located in the shadows of Mount Denali. This small town was established during the height of a gold rush, but it is currently famous during the summer months due to the fantastic fishing that can be found on the three rivers that converge here. Other popular activities include kayaking and four-wheeling. It is a well-known destination for snowmobiling, dog sledding, and nordic skiing during the year’s colder months. Today, they are home to various businesses, including local breweries, restaurants, and other retail establishments.
Fairbanks is among the best spots in the United States to view the northern lights. You’ll need to get away from the city’s bright lights and into the dark countryside if you want to get a decent look at the spectacular light show. Visitors to the Chena Hot Springs Resort may do just that while taking in the sights of a natural hot spring. The resort provides an aurora alarm service for those concerned about missing the lights while sleeping. In addition to dog sledding and plane rides, you may also enjoy the Aurora Ice Museum, the biggest permanent ice structure in the world.
Skagway, formerly the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush, was once crowded with treasure hunters looking to earn a fortune. Today, it provides the opportunity to experience the days of the Alaskan frontier. Taking a National Park Service ranger-led walking tour is the most significant way to delve into its rich history. Visit the historic cemetery, which contains the graves of outlaws, gold miners, and local legends, then have a drink at one of the honky-tonk piano bars.
You can also enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities. Others can enjoy flightseeing, kayaking, rafting, dog-sledding, and more. The Chilkoot Pass Route, the only long trail traverse in Southeast Alaska, crosses the Coastal Mountains from Skagway to Canada.
19. Chugach State Park, Anchorage
Many trailheads in Chugach State Park are only a few minutes from the heart of Anchorage, making it the state’s most convenient wilderness region. It features spectacular beautiful nature that attracts visitors interested in outdoor activities like rafting, bicycling, ATVing, kayaking, and fishing. During the summer, rent a yurt near the Eagle River to observe salmon spawning. Anchorage also is considered as a great place to view the famous dog-sledding race because the historic Iditarod Trail passes through here. In addition, white whale pods can be spotted year-round near Beluga Point.
20. Go Dog Sledding
To further elaborate on this point, one of the most iconic things to do in Alaska is to hang out with sled dogs. You may schedule a dog sledding tour at a wide variety of locations, and depending on the terms, you might ride in the sled behind the dogs or even get to drive the dogs yourself. On specific tours, you will need to use a helicopter to get to the glacier so that you may meet your sled dogs there.