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8 Must Do Activities in Alaska

From the largest national park and highest peak to the longest coastline, biggest state and longest day and night, Alaska is without a doubt the land of superlatives. Alaska’s adventure, history, culture, hiking, skiing, wildlife and scenery might easily just be the best that North America has to offer.

You might be a little overwhelmed with where to begin but fret not, we have selected 8 of our favourite haunts and activities to help you out with getting acquainted with the great Alaskan beauty.

1. Denali National Park

Denali National Park

Speaking of tallest peaks, Denali National Park is home to the tallest peak that can be found in the USA. Spread over six million acres consisting of tundra, alpine ranges, glaciers and river valleys, the national park is simply spectacular. Standing at 20,310 feet, “Denali” has been renamed Mount McKinley by modern explorers and it is a mountain that is loved by the locals.

The national park is also home to rich wildlife such as reindeer, wolves, elk. Grizzlies and some 200 species of birds. Whether you’re a nature lover or photography enthusiast, there’s something for everyone at Denali National Park.

 2. Tracy Arm Fjord

Tracy Arm Fjord

Situated 45 miles south of Juneau, Tracy Arm is a classic fjord and stands out as a “must see” for any travellers that are Alaska-bound. The fjord is surrounded by magnificent glaciers and promises to blow your minds away as you pass it on your Alaskan cruise. Witness waterfalls pouring over rock walls, glacier calve, and the resulting icebergs.

As you cruise by the Sawyer Glacier, listen to the ice crackle and pop while waiting for the glacier to calve. As it is an active tidewater glacier, pieces of ice will be falling off the Sawyer Glacier and make a loud entrance to the waters.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled for moose, brown bears, seals and whales!

3. Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

The 13-mile long Mendenhall Glacier is formed near the Coast Mountains and the Juneau Ice Field. The glacier can be viewed from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Centre. Dive into a history lesson with the park rangers as they explain the natural history of the spectacular landscape that surrounds you.

Plus, take your pick and go on a walk along any of the trails leading you to waterfalls, salmon streams, black bears, bald eagles and rainforests, just to name a few. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, go kayaking or rafting from the waters to get a better view of the surrounding landscape.

4. Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area

Grizzlies
Image credit: Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA

Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary located on Admiralty Island is one of Alaska’s most accessible beer viewing areas but this does not make it any less wild. About 30 minutes by plane, Tongass National Park provides a rugged natural environment that brings you closer to nature. Without “modern” facilities and disruptive mobile connections, it promises an even more enriching experience for the observation of Alaska’s majestic coastal brown bears, the grizzlies. Housing over 1,500 bears, we promise that this will be an adventure of a lifetime.

5. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park
Image credit: DCSL

The Kenai Fjords National Park probably tops the list of recreational activities that Alaska has to offer. Hikers will be pleased to know that the national park boasts hundreds of miles of well maintained trails.

Harding Icefield Trail
Image credit: Justin Morgan

The Harding Icefield Trail that is located within the Kenai National Forest should not be missed. With more than 40 icebergs that can be found along the trail spanning approximately 8 miles, it will be a day hike like no other.

Also, you find yourselves navigating through cottonwood forests, lush meadows and ending the trail with a climb taking you above the tree line and taking in the panoramic vista of the icefield, isn’t that just spectacular?

6. The Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Between the months of September and April, Fairbanks is known to have some of the best views of the aurora borealis on Earth. This is all thanks to it being located right under the aurora oval, which is a geographical region which promises higher chances of catching a glimpse of this breathtaking natural phenomenon. Sign yourselves up on a tour and have access to the best spots for you to catch the northern lights.

Other viewing spots in Alaska include Anchorage and Brooks Range.

 7. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Image credit: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias is America’s largest national park, covering an area of 13.2 million acres. To put things into perspective, the national park is the size of Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Switzerland combined! Some of the major peaks in the park include Sandford, Blackburn, Wrangell and Drum and the park is perfect for climbers, kayakers, glacier skiers as well as hikers alike.

Fun fact: Mount Wrangell happens to be the only still active volcano in the park.

8. Iditarod National Historic Trail

Iditarod National Historic Trail
Image credit: Bureau of Land Management

The Iditarod National Historic Trail is Alaska’s one and only National Historic Trail. The network of 2,300-mile winter trails connects Alaskan Native villages, established the dog-team mail and supply route during Alaska’s Gold Rush and is currently serving as a vital recreation and travel link.

The trail is most popularly used for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and is also ideal for a winter hike. The five cabins located along the trail provides shelter and serves as a rest stop for hikers along the way.

 

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