For us, a visit to Alaska meant seeing incredible mountain scenery, glaciers and some of the Last Frontier’s best-known wildlife. Imagine how surprised we were when we discovered we could do all of this on the same day by booking the Seward Highway Tour from Anchorage: Turnagain Arm, Mt Alyeska and Optional Glacier Cruise.
Denali National Park is the epitome of untouched, unadulterated wilderness. Sure, there’s a visitor center, Denali Park Village and a 91-mile-long road — but considering the park is slightly larger than the state of Massachusetts, that really isn’t much development in such a massive area.
There are a number of reasons why Skagway is one of the best towns in Southeast Alaska. It’s history, for one, is absolutely fascinating, and its size of under 1,000 residents keeps it inviting and humble. It’s tucked at the base of towering mountains that stretch their way out towards the Yukon, and home to a network of hiking trails full of waterfalls, views, and adventure.
The history, size, and scenery aside, Skagway is also an Alaskan favorite since it hardly ever rains.
Unlike towns such as Ketchikan or Sitka which receive 130+ inches of rain, Skagway only gets about 27 inches of precipitation per year. Nevertheless, there are still some days when the gray drizzle will find its way into town, so here are some rainy day activities in Skagway if you can’t get out on the trail.
As it currently stands, Sitka is one of Southeast Alaska’s most popular spots for tourists. Cruise ships ply the placid waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, and stop in Sitka for shopping, sightseeing, and doses of Tlingit heritage. The city, however, is one of Alaska’s most fascinating historical stops—and deserves much more than a one day visit that most the cruise ships will offer. For an idea of just how unique this coastal Alaskan city really is, here are five things you never knew about Sitka to serve as an introduction.
The town of Seward is an oceanfront port town brilliantly bedazzled in glaciers. Rung by mountains and set on the shores of Resurrection Bay, it’s not only the town at the end of the road on the scenic Seward Highway, but also home to some of Alaska’s top glacier experiences.
When visiting Seward and searching for glaciers, the question is not only which glaciers you’d like to spend your day seeing—but how you plan to get to those glaciers and the way you choose to see them. To visit a glacier by vehicle and foot, Exit Glacier is the most accessible glacier in the area surrounding Seward. It’s the only glacier accessible by road in Kenai Fjords National Park, and hiking trails ascend the glacier until it reaches the vast Harding Icefield. Here it’s possible to literally walk on the shifting river of ice, and see the glacier’s historic retreat as it continues to shrink and recede.
The last time that the census was taken, Talkeetna, Alaska had a population of just under 900 people. Despite the town’s small size, however, there are seemingly as many things to do in town as there are people who live there. Only two hours north of Anchorage but seemingly a world away, Talkeetna is a funky, frontier town that boomed in the gold rush around 1900 and still feels the same today. The town has a total of one paved road that comprises downtown main street, and log cabin road houses and rustic shacks abut the surrounding wilderness. And, while the town’s character and off-grid appeal are reason enough for visiting, it’s all of the surrounding adventures around town that make it a must visit spot.
Aside from being one of Alaska’s most romantic escapes, the town of Ketchikan is also a haven for creative, talented artists. Though artists can often be a little reclusive while squired away in the studio, all of them seem to emerge from the forest for Ketchikan’s Blueberry Arts Festival.
Officially, the city of Fairbanks is about 1,700 miles south of the geographic North Pole, where a frigid expanse of snow and ice stretches all the way out to the horizon. As it turns out—the actual North Pole isn’t exactly as cheery as we make it seem, and the real, festive, Christmas-time cheer is found instead at the other North Pole only 13 miles from Fairbanks.
There are two words that everyone should know before they go whale watching in Juneau:
“Bubble,” and “feeding.”
That’s the name of the explosive maneuver that humpbacks use when they’re feeding. Believe it or not, when gorging themselves on schools of krill in Alaska’s nutrient-rich waters, these 40-ton giants can gulp the volume of an entire African elephant. Even with all of that water, however, their throat is only the size of a grapefruit, and the majority of water seeps through their baleen like a massive, keratin-plated sieve.
Homer might be known for its world class halibut and filming site of “Deadliest Catch,” but there’s much more to this Alaskan port town than dreaming about tasty white fish. Take, for example, the fact that Homer has artist studios, wineries, hiking, and kitesurfing. Or the fact that simply getting to Homer involves one of Alaska’s best drives. Nearly all of the attention that’s placed on this town is for the fishing and “Homer Spit,” but visiting Homer, Alaska from Anchorage is one of the best single or multi-day trips that Alaska visitors can enjoy.