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10 Reasons to Visit Alaska

by Nicola P. Young 3 years ago in america

Despite harsh winters and dangerous wilderness, the striking beauty and unique opportunities of the 49th state mean there are many compelling reasons to visit Alaska.

While the northern reaches of the 49th state are undeniably harsh, and nearly inhabitable, during the winter months, the broad, striking beauty of this region offer many reasons to visit Alaska. From beautiful, awe-inspiring landscapes to incredible and rare wildlife, and sights you can't find anywhere else to unique cultural festivals, it is truly one of the world's most incredible natural wonders. Furthermore, misconceptions about the comfort and habitability of Alaska—especially during warmer seasons, and in the south—mean that it is often overlooked as a vacation spot, despite its wide-ranging offerings. Whether you're a die-hard outdoorsman looking for a challenge, or a more comfort-oriented vacationer in search of inspiration, Alaska has many compelling features that you just can't find anywhere else.

To See the Wildlife

Photo by Janko Ferlic from Pexels

One of the best reasons to visit Alaska is the wide range of thriving wildlife, especially the animals that live in the woods and the water. As with any trip to the wilderness, one must be cautious when enjoying these experiences, but with the abundance of majestic creatures to be seen, it has never been easier. Overnight and day cruises alike offer visitors the opportunity to see a wide range of water-dwelling creatures, from the fun and common seals that inhabit nearly every sound, lake, ocean, and dock, to the striking whale sightings—including massive orcas and even humpbacks. Because Alaska contains nearly 400 millions acres of protected land and water, it is a rich haven of endangered and rare species. You'll also find majestic creatures like grizzly bears and eagles in an abundance that you won't find anywhere else. If you're lucky enough to capture one of these opportunities on camera, you'll probably feel like one of the best wildlife photographers on Instagram.

For the Glaciers

Photo by James St. John via Flickr

The particular climates present in Alaska make it the perfect destination for visiting glaciers. In the southern reaches, summer temperatures can be perfectly comfortable, allowing even the more trepidatious tourists to walk right onto one of their many stunning glaciers. If you'd rather skip the tourist groups though, the striking beauty of Alaska can still be enjoyed in the Fall while avoiding the crowds of prime tourist season.

There are multiple ways to take in the glaciers of Alaska, including "flightseeing" trips to the majestic Ruth glacier, hikes or drives up to famous sites like the Matanuska Glacier, or a day cruise around Prince William Sound.

For the National and State Parks

Denali State Park from Good Free Photos

Alaska contains over 400 million acres of protected land and water, and nearly half of the state's land is covered in rich forests. About 54 million total acres are made up of sprawling State and National Parks. You'll find endless beautiful landscapes to hike and enjoy, including Denali National Park and Preserve, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and Kenai Fjords National Park, many of which include camping and RV sites, hiking trails, and guided tours. If you do plan to spend long periods of time camping, however, be sure to pack properly for the elements—even in the often-warm summers in southern Alaska, temperatures can drop very quickly.

For the Dunes

Photo from NPS

When people consider the many reasons why you should visit Alaska, they generally aren't thinking about sand dunes first. Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, part of the Kobuk Valley National Park, are absolutely a sight to behold though. They formed as a result of the Ice Age over 28,000 years ago, when retreating glaciers ground underlying rock into sand, which eventually blew across dry land, covering hundreds of thousands of acres in a fine sand. Since then, some of this area has been reclaimed by forest and shrubbery, but much of it is still covered in a beautiful, fine sand, making it truly a stunning area to visit.

To Visit Historic Gold Rush Sites

Klondike Gold Rush Chilkoot Trail from Forest Service, Alaska Region

Alaska is the most sparsely populated state in the United States, and probably would not even fall under our government if it weren't for the populations that moved out there in the hunt for gold. The Alaskan Gold Rushes that occurred at the turn of the 19th century saw the movement of over 100,000 prospectors to Alaska and the nearby Yukon region of Canada. Now, you can visit many of these trails and important historic sites, as well as experience guided tours and museum visits that chronicle these movements. In fact, many of the small towns in Alaska were built as a result of these movements, and stand as monuments themselves.

For the Fishing

Photo from maxpixel.net

Both commercial and recreational fishing in Alaska are major industries. The extensive lakes, rivers, and oceans surrounding and contained within Alaska house massive populations of Alaskan Salmon and other species. Furthermore, the federally protected land, water, and fisheries in the 49th state mean that Alaska is currently assisting the process of bringing thousands of endangered species out of endangerment and near-extinction. The limitations on commercial fishing practices that allow the region's diversity to continue does not, in any way, limit visitors and locals alike from enjoying a day on the water, and even catching your own dinner now and again.

For the Boating

Photo by C Watts via Flickr

One of the world's most famous and beautiful sites to visit is the Prince William Sound, part of the Gulf of Alaska on the state's southernmost border. From this area, visitors can view majestic glaciers, whales, seals, and other wildlife, and enjoy the fresh (if sometimes fishy) Alaskan air. Cruises regularly pass through this area, but day cruises and boat tours also offer visitors these opportunities.

It isn't just Prince William Sound that provides boaters with reasons to visit Alaska though. In fact, Alaska boasts over 365,000 million miles of river to enjoy, for sightseeing, fishing, birdwatching, and whatever floats your boat (ha!).

For the Festivals

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

Despite its famously sparse population, Alaska is home to a rich culture. The small city of Barrow, Alaska, boasts the title of the northernmost city in the United States. This is also the home to one of the state's most enthusiastic festivals, the Nalukataq festival. If you visit the town in June, you can catch the Iñupiat Eskimo Spring whaling festival. Nalukataq derives from the word for "to toss up," and this is the festival's most exciting aspect: the opportunity to participate in the famous Eskimo blanket toss. Of course, the festival is a celebration and expression of appreciation for the preceding season before all else.

To See the Northern Lights

Aurora borealis from Pixabay via Pexels

People in search of the Northern Lights oftentimes find, truly, one of the world's most incredible sights. In northerly reaches, including the major city of Fairbanks, Alaska, you can do just that. While you're most likely to catch them during the longer nights of the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring months, the lights are actually best seen around March, a time of year that is still quite cold, and nights are still very long, but conditions are manageable. It's close to impossible to predict exactly when and where the Northern Lights will appear, but these areas of Alaska give you a pretty good shot at a sight that is more than worth it to catch.

To Skip Tourist Traps

Photo by Mariamichele via Pixabay

There are many reasons to visit Alaska, of which a significant proportion have to do with the incredible sights to see and experience. One thing that sets these Alaskan sights apart from the wonders of the rest of the world though is the ability to experience solitude. While southern areas, like the Prince William Sound and the state's capitol, do see a significant tourist trade, the overwhelming amount of sheer space in the state, as well as its often-harsh conditions, means that you have the opportunity to enjoy the best of nature at some of the best vacation spots in Alaska without having to deal with the massive crowds.


Nicola P. Young

Lover of Books, Saxophone, Blogs, and Dogs. Not necessarily in that order. Book blogger at heartofinkandpaper.com.

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