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Wildlife Watching

Alaska’s vast size and sheer amount of undeveloped land makes it a paradise for those hoping to catch a glimpse of impressive creatures like stately bald eagles and massive brown bears. Guided tours offer the chance to sail among humpback whales in Kenai Fjords National Park or observe caribou by the thousands roaming the expansive tundra. It’s not just Alaska’s outdoors where you can spot wild critters, though; the state also sports zoos, aquariums and conservation centers, where researchers work to educate visitors about the animals who call Alaska home.

 

Glacial Wonder

Nearly 100,000 glaciers can be found along the waterways of the Inside Passage and amid the mountains of Interior Alaska, and visitors have plenty of options for viewing these icy giants. Get a bird’s eye view on flightseeing or helicopter tours, where you may even make an exciting landing atop a glacier, or take a river cruise to gaze up at them. Truly intrepid adventurers can set off on multi-day glacier treks, where they’ll learn to ice-climb and see unique glacial views that can only be accessed on foot.

 

Hike to your Heart’s Content

Hiking is a quintessential Alaska experience. You’ll find picturesque trails and rugged pathways all across the state, from an easygoing walk to see ancient rock carvings at Petroglyph Beach State Historical Park in Wrangell to the otherworldly views you’ll find at the end of the rugged Harding Icefield Trail in Seward. But that’s not all: Outdoorsy types will relish the chance to kayak in remote fjords, bike mountain trails and fish for Pacific salmon and halibut.

 

Get to Know Alaska Native Culture

Alaska is the ancestral home of 229 federally- and state-recognized Indigenous tribes representing 20 distinct cultures within five main cultural groups. Learn about their ways of life at heritage centers and cultural attractions statewide. From the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, where visitors can experience living traditions of Alaska Native people through art exhibits and cultural demonstrations, to the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House in Sitka, where Tlingit dancers share songs passed down through generations, opportunities to celebrate the diversity and beauty of Alaska Native cultures abound.

 

Northern Lights Shine

August through April, the Alaska skies come alive with the colors and lights of the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights. Alaska’s long nights and remote areas free from light pollution make it an incredible place to view this celestial phenomenon. Guided tours lead you to prime locations for skygazing, with many tours offering overnight tours in lodgings specifically designed for viewing the aurora borealis.

 

Wintry Pursuits

Alaska is beautiful year-round, but winter is an especially magical time to visit. Snowy weather statewide means you won’t have to look too far for picturesque spots for snowshoeing, skiing and snowmobiling. One of Alaska’s most well-known annual events, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race takes off the first Saturday in March. Many mushers open their facilities year-round for tours and the opportunity to try your skill at dog sledding.

Fun Fact

Aerial view of Kodiak Island, Alaska
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Kodiak Island is the only place to find the Kodiak brown bear. It’s the largest bear on earth, weighing in at over 680 kilograms.

Hiking at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska
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Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, America’s largest National Park, is in Southcentral Alaska. It’s larger than Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and the country of Switzerland combined.

A totem pole at Saxman and Totem Bight State Park near Ketchikan, Alaska
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Visit the world’s largest collection of totem poles in Totem Bight State Park, just outside Ketchikan.

Must see places

Travel Alaska, Michael DeYoung
Travel Alaska, Michael DeYoung

Denali National Park

In Denali National Park’s vast expanses of wild land, travelers might see caribou, grizzly and black bears and Dall sheep. The park’s one road leads to stunning views of North America’s tallest peak, 6,190-meter Denali.

Mist surrounds the striking rock formations of Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
Travel Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park

See towering icebergs stretch into the sky at Kenai Fjords National Park, located just outside the town of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Experienced trekkers can’t miss the chance to spend a day hiking the Harding Icefield trail, which climbs from the valley floor to a nearly 300-meter vantage point above the Exit Glacier. The coastline surrounding the ice field is home to orcas, whales and harbor seals, which you can spot on a boat tour of the fjords.

A glacier meets the sea at Glacier Bay National Park
Travel Alaska, Mark Kelley

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

A vast area of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is flanked by high peaks, including Mount Fairweather, and glaciers including the huge Grand Pacific Glacier.

Exhibits at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage
Travel Alaska, Matt Hage

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Learn about the state’s 11 major cultures at this Alaska Native museum. Visitors experience Indigenous heritage and history firsthand through stories, song, dance, festivals and educational programs.

A brown bear fishes for salmon at Katmai National Park in Alaska
Travel Alaska, Niaz Uddin

Katmai National Park & Preserve

Set on a peninsula in southwestern Alaska, Katmai National Park and Preserve is known for the many brown bears that are drawn to the abundant salmon in Brooks Falls. Lookout platforms offer up-close views.

Musk ox grazing on a farm

Musk Ox Farm

A nonprofit organization, the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer is dedicated to the development of musk oxen in order to provide subsistence income for Alaska Natives. Visitors can photograph and interact with the Ice Age animals.

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Viewing totem poles in Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska

Sitka National Historical Park

Set on an island amid spruce and hemlock trees, Sitka National Historical Park preserves the site of a battle between Russian traders and Indigenous Tlingit people. The restored Russian Bishop’s House speaks of Russia’s little-known colonial legacy in North America.

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Sculptures outside the Anchorage Museum in Alaska

Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum highlights culture, art and science in a permanent collection depicting 10,000 years of Alaska history. The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center houses more than 600 Alaska Native artifacts.

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Driving on Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway

Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway

A 217-kilometer stretch of road that takes travelers north from Anchorage through the majestic Talkeetna Mountains, the byway offers some of the state’s most accessible glacier viewing.

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