12 Sep Reasons Why Alaska Should be on Your Travel Bucket List
Most of us are familiar with Alaska and often thought that it is the most isolated state in the United States. We also often associate it with snow, being located in the northwest extremity of the United States, specifically on the West Coast.
But Alaska is more than mountainous terrains with snow. Here are some must-see attractions in Alaska which are enough reasons why you should visit this state:
Several breathtaking national parks
Alaska is one of the least densely populated states in the United States of America. Uncrowded locations are some of the best places to take trips, especially when you want to reflect and not just explore.
One of the best assets that Alaska could offer is its breathtaking sceneries that you can personally explore, especially if you prefer outdoor activities.
There are several national parks in the state and each offers a unique experience. Some of these include Denali National Park, Wrangell-st. Elias National Park & Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Katmai National Park & Preserve, Iditarod National Historic Trail, Sitka National Historical Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Totem Bight State Historical Park, among others.
The Denali National Park consists of 6 million acres of wilderness and is home to the tallest peak in North America. The park almost offers everything––from low and high elevations to glaciers, rivers, and wilderness. You can explore the park by dog sledding (a must-do when you visit Alaska), ice skiing, and snowmobiling. There are also campsites for tourists who want to immerse themselves with the wilderness.
The Kenai Fjords National Park may be smaller than Denali, but it still offers a lot. Located in the south-central part of the state, this park covers almost 700,000 acres and consists of numerous icefields. It is also the home to Exit Glacier, a popular attraction within the park, which is also the most accessible glaciers in the state.
Another park you can explore is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which commemorates the exploration of over 100,000 prospectors of gold in the Klondike region. This park is settled in the border of Alaska and Canada’s Yukon territory. Apart from the magnificent outdoor views, you also get to explore the early settlements in the area in this park. There are historic structures, artifacts, and trails within the park.
If you are into hiking, you could go to the Iditarod National Historic Trail, a 2,300-mile winter trails that allow access to native Alaskan villages. There are also alpine and waterfall views you can appreciate.
You can also explore an even smaller park such as Totem Bight State Historic Park, which is a 33-acre state park just north of Ketchikan. You will get to see replicas of the settlements of the Natives in this park, particularly a traditional chieftain’s house. You also get to see a collection of totem poles in the park, hence its name.
Outdoor activities that you would only enjoy in Alaska
There are plenty of outdoor activities you can do in Alaska such as hiking, biking, ice skiing, snowmobiling, and many more. You might say that the cold weather in the state may hinder you from moving, but it actually helps and you most likely won’t get easily tired.
If you are a runner, there are plenty of annual marathons held in the state, particularly in anchorage. You can also experience being dragged by huskies and malamutes by booking dog sledding activities in the area––it is actually a year-round activity in the state.
With numerous trails in Alaska, you can go hiking and even consider camping to see more of the wilderness up close.
There are plenty of areas in the state that would also allow you to go ice fishing and catch different kinds of fish such as Dolly Varden, winter king salmon, Arctic Char, and rainbow trout.
Experience ice caves
Yes, you can explore typical caves almost everywhere. But it is not common to experience ice caves and be able to walk underneath frozen ceilings as if you are under a bright blue light. In the Mendenhall Ice Caves, the are also running water over the rocks underneath the frozen ceilings.
Nestled in Mendenhall Valley, the Mendenhall Glacier is a 13-mile-long remarkable frozen formation located just 12 short miles from downtown Juneau. The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is a federally protected unit of the Tongass National Forest. Many are not aware of this but Mendenhall Glacier originally had two names, Aak’wtaaksit which means “glacier behind the lake” and Sitaantaagu which means “glacier behind the town”. Try not to fall in love with the glacier, mountain, wildlife and waterfall views which can be found in the valley.
Taste unique foods
There are several delicacies in Alaska that you wouldn’t find anywhere else such as fireweed jelly, reindeer dog, muktuk, and akutuq. Fireweed jelly is made from wildflowers in the area, while the reindeer dog is pretty self-explanatory––though apart from using reindeer meat, you also get Coca-Cola glazed onions. Meanwhile, akutuq is a local ice cream that is made by whipping snow with sea oil and berries. Muktuk is a traditional meal made of frozen whale skin and blubber.
Observe animals that you do not commonly see
Because of the great variety of landforms in the state, not mentioning a varying temperature of each area, you get to see a lot of animals in Alaska. Some of the common animals you can see here are polar bears, marine and freshwater fish, whales, orcas, and turtles. There are also a variety of birds such as pelicans and herons. You also get to see wild mountain goats, moose, and dall sheep. Apart from polar bears, there are still black and brown bears in the state.
Since most of the best scenic views in Alaska are glaciers, you might also be aware that these areas are also threatened because of climate change. Most of the ice caps in Alaska are already melting because of the changes in temperature. So you might want to consider visiting Alaska as soon as possible. And you could also take part in preserving mother nature, whether you are in Alaska or not.