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12 Best Places to Visit in Alaska

Alaska is a huge state that can be described as mostly uninhabited with breathtaking sights and things to do at any turn. Starting from the glaciers to the national parks, historic towns, wildlife viewing, and many other attractions Alaskan destinations have so much to offer. Below I have listed twelve of the most compelling reasons to visit the magnificent state of The Last Frontier on your next vacation.

1. Denali National Park

Denali National Park, amid the untamed terrain of Alaska, has the most mountain range in North America. Various animal species including the grizzly bear, wolf, caribou, moose, and Dall sheep call the six million acres of Alaskan preserve home. To experience Denali and the magnificent 20 310 feet high Mt. Denali, which used to be known as Mt. McKinley, walk, go trekking in a backpack with companions, or even take a bus.

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

Go for a walking tour at Seward and better still, have a closer view of some of the world’s most famous glaciers at the Kenai Fjords National Park. Punctuated by deep fjords along the Gulf of Alaska, this territory of rugged beauty is the haven that every nature enthusiast will relish. Opt for kayaking through a vast area of icebergs, watch whales and sea lions, and enjoy the views of the Harding Icefield. It is not wise to embark on a boat cruise endeavor that will make one watch ice chunks fall from the Endicott Arm and Holgate glaciers.

3. Glacier Bay National Park

See the massive tidewater glaciers, mountains rising from the ocean or still mostly covered in snow, and animals floating on ice floes or wandering along the shoreline while sailing across Glacier Bay National Park. Large pieces of ice breaking off glaciers like Margerie or Grand Pacific and falling into the water—a process known as calving—one might hear tremendous sounds akin to cracks and booms. During the mainland portion of your trip, search for mountain goats; during the cruise, find humpback whales, sea otters, and other aquatic animals.

4. Juneau

Juneau is the state capital of Alaska and a rather isolated city that is also a favorite among cruise ships and is situated at the bases of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts. For a climb, try the Mount Roberts trail or take the Mount Roberts Tramway up 1800 feet where there are steep hiking trails. Walk across the town with the local guide to visit historical sites, and have lunch in the historical Alaskan Hotel & Bar.

5. Ketchikan

The city of Ketchikan is called the ‘First City of Alaska’ because of its establishment as a fishing hub and Native American village. Stroll down Creek Street – the part of the city constructed on the stilts over the Ketchikan Creek in the course of the Gold Rush. Take a look at the fancy and cheerful streets and the totem pole attractions, learn the history of the ‘Old Town’ in Dolly’s House which once used to be a house of ill repute, or go on a fishing raid in the hired boat. By floatplane to Misty Fjords National Monument where you will be dwarfed by cliffs, valleys, and mirror-like lakes.

6. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

With an area of 13.2 million acres, the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest among the national parks in the United States of America Extending through a vast area of land with numerous trackless mountains, gigantic fields of ice, wild coastal areas, and so on filled with brown bears and salmons. Take an aerial tour by air, or go rafting, glacial hiking, or camping in off-trail areas to get a sense of the serenity of the largest park in the United States.

7. Homer

Known as the ‘Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea,’ Homer is not only a fishing village but also stunning in beauty and offering exceptional maritime experiences. Go halibut fishing or go for a ferry ride to Kachemak Bay State Park with odd terrains for hiking, camping, and bird watching. All that must be seen is the Homer Spit with shops restaurants and kite surfers on the wind-swept coast.

8. Fairbanks

A city second in size only to the state capital of Juneau, Fairbanks is a starting point for great Arctic experiences accompanied by dramatic puffy hills and the sun setting at midnight in the middle of June. Besides hiking, rafting, fishing, dogsledding, and many other outdoor activities the area has some spectacular trails such as the Chena River State Recreation Site. During the winter visitors can see the aurora borealis, go for a ski, or play on the Ice Alaska which is the park on ice.

9. Anchorage

Anchorage is a big city in Alaska that provides all the comforts of urban life while the nearest wilderness area is just around the corner. Whether it’s driving up to the Airport for flightseeing and glaciers or heading down south for rafting and salmon fishing, Anchorage is ideal for launching. Take a walk at the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with a view of the cliffs and beaches of Cook Inlet or check the food and beer places at Downtown. One museum to visit is the Anchorage Museum which will immerse visitors in the art, history, and culture of Alaska.

10. Talkeetna

Talkeetna is a small funky town nestled at the foot of the mountain, and it is used as the starting ground for many Denali mountaineering trips. Main Street has roadhouse eating, and drinking establishments, specialty stores, and popular entertainment. Take flightseeing and leading tours for breathtaking sights of the raw and majestic Denali and the Alaska Range. Talkeetna is also famous for the large mosquitoes found in the area during the summer season.

11. Seward

Located in southern Anchorage, Seward is the portal to the Kenai Fjords and offers glaciers, animals, hiking paths, and the sea. See the whales, sea lions, puffins, and maybe even bears by booking a wildlife cruise in the Kenai Fjords National Park for an airborne view of the glacier-carved terrain. Go sea kayaking across cold fjords or use a dog sled to go over a glacier to have exciting activities.

12. Sitka

It was the capital of Russian Alaska and now it is one of the most picturesque cities on the seashore of Alaska. Take a stroll through Totem Square home to various beautifully carved totems or take the Russian Bishop’s House tour –the only remaining Russian structure in Sitka or go on a Wildlife Cruise, to spot bears, and whales, among others. Be sure to try the fresh caught salmon and halibut in this fisherman’s paradise, before you leave.

These destinations offer breathtaking visuals, great opportunities for wildlife watching, and an interesting history of the area, in addition to a variety of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in Alaska. It is indeed possible to travel to Alaska to cruise past the tidewater glaciers, bear watching, and perhaps, taste Alaska’s seafood specialties.