There is no other state quite like Alaska. Here you will see things that you just cannot find anywhere else. Because the state is located so far north, it has a unique environment that provides amazing views and unique ways to experience the great outdoors. Visit an isolated coastal town for a quiet getaway or stay in one of the few major cities to experience all the comforts of a five-star hotel with the mountains calling from right outside your window.
You have to be awake in the middle of the night to see them, but the Northern Lights are worth staying up for. While they are visible at the end of summer and into early fall, the best time to see them is from the end of September until mid-April between midnight and 4 am, depending on the season. There are plenty of places to see them, too, but some of the most reliable spots are Fairbanks and Anchorage. Wait until a clear night for best viewing.
It takes three hours by car or four hours by train to get to Denali National Park from Fairbanks; the closest major city located northeast of the park. Once you get there, there are plenty of ways to explore the wilderness. Take an ATV tour, go rafting, or use the park shuttle to get to the hiking trail of your choice. Bring your camera along because Denali has some of the most breathtaking views in the country, including Mount McKinley, glacial rivers, and a lot of wildlife like moose, wolves, and grizzly bears.
The Kuskalana Bridge is located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, in the southeast part of the state west of the Yukon border. This 535-foot-long bridge was built by the railroad in 1911. Later in the 1960s, the state pulled up the railroad tracks, and you can still cross the bridge on foot or in a vehicle today. Park the car on either side and walk across the span of the bridge for gorgeous views of the Kuskalana River and Wrangell Mountains.
There are plenty of places to spot whales along the coast of the state, so be sure to look for opportunities in the area when planning your trip. The best place to whale watch is on a boat, and there are plenty of tours offered at most coastal towns. Alaska is a popular spot for humpback whales, but gray whales, killer whales, and beluga whale are common sights, too. You might even see dolphins and belugas, too.
There are a lot of gorgeous scenic drives in Alaska, but the Seward Highway is one of the best. This route goes from Anchorage to the small seaside town of Seward. It takes you past gorgeous mountain peaks and provides views of the Northern Pacific Ocean as well as the Turnagain Arm in the Gulf of Alaska. Along the way, there are several places to stop and take pictures of the view as well as several National Heritage Areas.
There are a lot of opportunities to experience glaciers in Alaska. One of the best ways to get up close an personal is taking a cruise or kayak trip. For a completely different perspective, flightseeing tours are also available. There are also plenty of roadside tours available for hiking, ATVs, and even ice climbs. Some of the best areas for viewing are Prince William Sound and the Kenai Fjords in the southeastern part of the state near Anchorage. These opportunities are scattered throughout Alaska, so be sure to look for one that fits into your itinerary.
Nome, Alaska, is at the tip of the Seward Peninsula and overlooks the Bering Sea. It is a great place to visit if you want to experience a remote part of the state without losing all the modern conveniences. This small town is a popular destination as it marks the end of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which happens every March. What is interesting about Nome is that it lies in the rolling tundra. There are no trees here so you can see for miles, taking in clear rivers and pristine beaches. Try to spot some wildlife, or you can even join modern prospectors in panning for gold.
The most visited city in Alaska is probably Anchorage, one of the biggest urban hotspots in the state that is surrounded by gorgeous natural views. There are opportunities here to do just about anything. Stay at a luxury hotel, dine in a five-star restaurant, or take in a show. Then, head out for a drive to the mountains to spot moose, take a sightseeing flight, or hike to a glacier. Staying in Anchorage is a convenient way to take in all the outdoor beauty that Alaska has to offer while experiencing all the amenities of a busy urban hub.
Juneau is likely the most remote state capital in the United States. In fact, it is so remote that there is no road linking it to the outside world and it is only accessible by plane or boat. That said, Juneau is a popular cruise destination and a good place to start exploring the southeast part of the state that sits along the western border of British Columbia. Like a lot of towns in Alaska, Juneau sprung up because of a gold rush in the late 1800s. Nearby places to visit include Mount Juneau, Mount Roberts, the Mendenhall Glacier, and the Alaska State Museum.
Dog sledding is one of the most unique ways to see Alaska. There are a lot of options available across the southeast, including Anchorage, Juneau, Denali, Girdwood, and Fairbanks. There are different types of experiences available, depending on the time of year. In the summer, visitors typically take a ride in wheeled carts pulled by dogs on the ground to experience how they are trained. Some of these summer experiences also include a sightseeing tour via helicopter or airplane. If you want to experience dog mushing, you have to visit between November and March with the snow conditions are agreeable.