Scenic landscapes, romantic lodges, giant glaciers, and abundant wildlife—these are some things Alaska is famous for. While Alaska is far from the rest of the U.S. states, it remains to be one of the most beautiful attractions in the country. Being away from the hustle and bustle of Western life only adds to the mystery and beauty of this state, earning its crown as the ideal destination for nature lovers or bold travelers.
Though Alaska boasts of its major tourist centers and museums, the 49th state is generally known for its large, uninhabited wilderness dominating smaller cities, such as the Anchorage and Juneau. People can fully enjoy its natural beauty by exploring the great outdoors and doing nature-inspired activities, such as fishing tours, paddling, hiking, visiting national parks, or even just staying at a fishing vacation house.
If it is your first time traveling to Alaska, you might feel overwhelmed given the unlimited number of attractions and activities offered by the state. To help plan your next Alaskan adventure, this article will provide a rundown of the most impressive vacation spots in Alaska and must-visit places for first-time travelers. Get your paper and pen ready as we give the Alaskan traveling experience you don’t want to miss.
Table of Contents
Denali National Park
First on our list is the Denali National Park found in central Alaska where it sits at the very heart of the Denali Mountain. Denali is one of Alaska’s premier destinations, which is also a part of the great Alaska Range. Its highest peak measures 20,310 feet, making it the highest mountain in the face of North America. Although Denali is the traditional name of the mountain, most modern travelers call it Mount McKinley.
Denali Mountain is known for its snow-covered mountaintop and glaciers, with temperatures reaching -75 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the chilling temperatures, Denali Mountain is home to plenty of wildlife forms, including 169 birds and 39 mammal species. Between Fairbanks and Anchorage lies the main habitat of grizzly bears, elk, reindeer, wolves, and other wild animals. You can also try the sled dog kennels led by adorable huskies.
Apart from its abundant wildlife, Denali Mountain has various spectacular landscape forms within its six million acres of land. These include towering alpine ranges, tundra, river valleys, and glacier-draped mountains. To get to these places, simply follow a single road leading to the park, where you can find park-approved vehicles permitted to explore beyond the Savage River. Make sure to get a good spot near the windows as you can enjoy the views of Denali while traveling along the park road.
Glacier Bay National Park
Located in the Alaskan Panhandle, the Glacier Bay National Park is a globally renowned destination with the best views of mountain glaciers and wildlife. The 25-million-acre park is a part of the World Heritage Site and one of the biggest protected areas worldwide. It directly lies where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates converge. In fact, its coastal mountains measure three miles, which still rise today.
Exploring Glacier Bay is the best thing to do to explore Alaska. It boasts of its three million acres of deep fjords, rainforest, glaciers, rugged coastlines, and mountain ranges. The great thing about Glacier Bay is that the environment dramatically changes its landscape, as glaciers continuously form and retreat.
To get here, you may take the Alaska Marine Highway offering better access to the national park. Bartlett Cove is nearby the park headquarters, filled with lush coastal rainforest. It is also a fantastic place to try boating, biking, fishing, and hiking around trails and glaciers. But if you want to make the most out of the trip, make sure to visit the most photographed destinations, such as the John Hopkins Glacier and Muir Inlet.
The park offers outdoor activities, such as kayaking, which you can rent through guided tours. Kayaking is a great way to tour around the place and witness its breathtaking views.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Located 45 miles from south Juneau, the Tracy Arm Fjord is a popular spot in the Tongass National Forest. You can find this scenic setting within the narrow fjords of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. This destination is a well-known spot for boat tours and cruise ships because of its stunning waterfalls, glaciers, rock walls, and icebergs.
At the top of the fjord lies the twin Sawyer Glaciers with wildlife sightings such as moose, wolves, brown and black bears, or harbor seals and whales inhabiting the nearby waters. The common entry is by boat along Stephens Passage towards Holkham Bay. During the summer months, you can find floating ice along the fjord, ranging from small icebergs to a size of a three-story building.
Alaska is an enormous state which you cannot explore in a single trip. But you have to start somewhere to enjoy its wide range of attractions. While there is so much to see in Alaska, you can start by visiting these top three destinations to get the full Alaskan wildlife experience.