With its natural beauty, pristine wilderness and fascinating history, Alaska draws visitors back again and again. You can’t get away from breathtaking scenery in Alaska. There’s something spectacular to see at every turn and some unique history and culture to intrigue you along the way. Take a look at these highlights of the 49th State.
The incredible vastness of Alaska with its seemingly endless mountain ranges is nothing short of breathtaking. The well organized park system across the state protects this spectacular wilderness with state and national parks, preserves and trails where visitors can enjoy the outdoors and watch for animals and sea life. The most famous park is Denali.
- Denali National Park and Preserve is the largest protected ecosystem in the world, covering nearly 2.5 million hectares.
- Around 400,000 people visit each year.
- Take a bicycle tour, a park bus or guided walk. Popular summer activities are hiking, camping, rafting, backcountry travel, fishing, wildlife viewing and flightseeing.
- The abundant wildlife includes grizzly bears, caribou, wolves, Dall sheep and moose.
- Mt. McKinley, or Denali, North America’s highest peak at 6.194 meters is situated within the park. A spectacular sight on clear days it can be seen as far as 113 km away.
- Most pre/post cruise tours feature Denali with overnight stays at wilderness lodges.
- Denali is accessible between Anchorage and Fairbanks via Alaska rail or by car from the George Parks Highway.
The ice age is still active in Alaska. There are an estimated 100,000 glaciers in the state and observing them is certainly a highlight of any visit.
- From the deck of a cruise ship, watch and listen as tide water glaciers creak and calve with huge chunks crashing into the sea.
- Look for Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord on your cruise itinerary for a glacier experience.
- These rivers of ice which flow from ice packs high in the mountains are magnificent when viewed closely from a helicopter. Some flightseeing tours land on the ice so you can hike or ride a dog sled.
- Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau is big, beautiful and one of the most accessible glaciers. Take a shuttle bus from the pier to stop by the visitors centre and enjoy the many hiking trails.
Discover the diversity of Alaska’s first people at many parks and venues which showcase local art and culture.
- Ketchikan has a marvelous collection of totem poles. You’ll see excellent collections at Totem Heritage Center, Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park.
- Juneau’s Mt. Roberts tramway is owned by the Goldbelt Native Corporation. There’s more than panoramic views from the top. Don’t miss the award winning movie, native and historical art, displays by native artists, the eagle display, nature centre, bear viewing platforms, hiking trails and more.
- Icy Strait Point was specifically designed for cruise ship calls at the largest Tlingit town of Hoonah. Visit the historical cannery, see native art and dance displays, walk along the marked trails along the beach and through the forest. There’s a wide range of optional activities from riding the world’s longest and highest zipline to learning to cook salmon, halibut and crab.
- The Alaska Native Heritage Center Museum in Anchorage displays the rich heritage of Alaska’s eleven cultural groups. See the displays in The Hall of Cultures and visit the traditional village sites recreated outside. Dance and art displays also take place in this, the largest cultural centre in Alaska.
Other Unique Highlights
- The White Pass and Yukon Route railway from Skagway is one of the world’s most scenic railways and a recognized engineering landmark. It clings to the mountainside and crosses massive trestle bridges as it winds its way along the famous Trail of ’98.
- Gold is a major factor in Alaska’s history. In Juneau, pan for gold and visit a gold mine. Stroll into the past in Skagway’s Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park with its boardwalk, historic buildings, gold rush cemetery and museums.
- The Russian heritage evident in Sitka, the former Russian capital, includes St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church and the world-famous New Archangel Dancers.
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