Alaska has captured the dreams of explorers and travel junkies for ages, and for a good reason. There are so many treasures to be found between the incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes in this northernmost state. Not to mention the gems of nature you will experience.
Alaska is vast: it’s bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined! With so much area to cover, it’s challenging to know where to start planning a trip.
Read on for the top 10 destinations to see and amazing things do in Alaska to have an unforgettable trip:
1. Denali National Park
Denali National Park boasts the highest mountain peak in North America, standing a staggering 20,310 feet tall. It’s a climbers’ and mountaineers’ paradise, with many challenging routes to climb. Even if you are an experienced climber, alpine climbing poses unique challenges, and you should not attempt this route without a guide. Sign up with Alpenglow Expeditions for a memorable and safe experience.
Prefer to stay a little closer to sea level? The park has incredible animals you can see from a bus tour, including caribou, grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, and wolves.
Denali National Park also has stunning views of mountain peaks, lakes, and other natural formations that will keep you and your camera busy.
2. Northern Lights in Fairbanks
While you’re in the Last Frontier, you can’t miss the chance to see the Northern Lights. Fairbanks is the best place to spot them; you can drive to the countryside yourself to catch a glimpse, or there are guided tours that bring you to ideal viewing spots to guarantee you experience the magic.
3. Visit North Pole
You can’t come to Alaska and miss a visit to Santa’s house! The small town of North Pole, Alaska, is devoted to Christmas fun year-round. If you have kids, they will love a visit to Santa’s trading post.
As it’s just a 15-minute drive south of Fairbanks, you can combine your visit with your viewing of the Northern Lights.
4. Whale Watching in Juneau
Every April to September whales migrate to Alaska; there are few things more awe-inspiring than whales in the wild! Take a whale watching tour from Juneau, the best place to spot them. Chances are, you’ll also see other animals like seals, eagles, and sea lions on your journey.
5. Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, based out of Skagway, Alaska, is open year-round and offers various interesting historical sights. Learn about the history of the great American Gold Rush at the visitor center, and visit historical Gold Rush-era buildings in downtown Skagway.
6. Alaska State Museum
The Alaska State Museum in Juneau is a hub of both contemporary and traditional art and culture. Learn about indigenous history and its intersection with Russian, American, and European settlers in a fun and interactive way suitable for the whole family.
7. Mendelhall Glacier
The Mendelhall Glacier is a gorgeous natural wonder that melts into a picturesque, blue-green lake. Just 12 miles outside of Juneau, the glacier is easily accessible, and there is a cozy visitor center where you can take in the view with a hot chocolate in hand. The visitor center offers interesting films and exhibits where you can learn more about the region, and there are trails nearby running adjacent to the glacier that offers incredible views.
8. Get outdoors for recreation activities
Don’t miss out on Alaska’s great outdoor recreation activities. On the southern coast in Valdez, you can participate in a variety of sports, including ice climbing, hiking, and rafting. Take a helicopter tour, and view the stunning coastline dotted with waterfalls and glaciers.
9. Watch the Iditarod Dog Sled Race
For dog lovers, the Iditarod Dog Sled Race is a special event not to be missed! Each March, the town of Nome hosts the finish line of this exciting 1000-mile dog sledding race.
Nome also offers Gold Rush historical sites and outdoor adventures you can explore after the race.
10. Kenai Fjords National Park
Let’s face it, its rich marine life is one of the main tourist attractions in Alaska. To experience it for yourself, start in Seward and hop on a boat tour through Kenai Fjords National Park and see a variety of arctic marine animals including eagles, orcas, porpoises, otters, puffins, seals, and even Minke whales. For the adventurous traveler, rent a kayak and see the Harding Icefield up close.
Whether you like to sit in a cozy hot tub with a view, or you prefer to be ice climbing in challenging conditions, Alaska has something that every traveler can enjoy. While it is an outdoor-lovers paradise, it also offers unique historical and cultural activities that provide rich experiences. One thing is for certain, the Last Frontier and its harsh but beautiful landscapes are sure to captivate wild hearts for years to come.