If you’ve ever wondered why you should visit Alaska, you’ve come to the right place. It’s more than just the coldest state in America, a home to Inuit tribes, and a paradise for fireplace design businesses: Alaska is said to be one of the last unspoiled lands, with a population of only around 700,000, and most of those living in its few cities. Add to that the fact that Alaska is bigger than Texas and 22 other smaller states combined, and you can see exactly why you should visit Alaska.
With wide open fields, huge mountains, and dense forests, Alaska is a hunter’s or outdoorsman’s paradise. With the northern lights, it’s the perfect place for a romantic wedding proposal or honeymoon. And with the shops, attractions, and world-renowned restaurants in Juneau and Anchorage, it’s the perfect place for people who would rather vacation in comfort and luxury.
To learn all the reasons why you should visit Alaska on your next vacation, keep reading.
Alaska is home to breathtaking mountain ranges. The mountain Denali is the single tallest mountain in North America, towering almost four miles high. It’s also the third-most isolated mountain in the world of its height, making it the perfect pilgrimage destination for someone needing to be by themselves. It’s not the only mountain you’ll find in Alaska, however — there are literally thousands of them. Bring your snow skis, camera, and a warm hat to make the very most of your adventure. Or, if you’ve picked out your wedding rings and are looking for the perfect wedding destination, why not use an Alaskan mountain range as your backdrop?
At the end of the last ice age, glaciers made their way back towards the top of the globe as they melted down. What remains of those ancient glaciers can be found in Alaska and Canada, in all their prehistoric glory. You don’t have to go a long way to find one of these spectacular glaciers, either: the Matanuska Glacier is only a two-hour drive away from Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. If you take a boat ride to Prince William Sound, you can see a half dozen towering glaciers on the way. For a unique hotel experience, make your way to Alaska’s heartland and find the McCarthy-Kennecott glacier. It’s the only glacier in Alaska with a hotel built right next to it.
Speaking of Anchorage, this is the third reason why you should visit Alaska. If you thought Alaska was a wilderness, without such modern amenities as on premise phone systems, think again. Although it’s home to only 300,000 people, it has all the comforts and features of a major city in the south. For those who like to hang out in civilization, there are countless hotels, restaurants, bars, and music venues around the city.
Be sure and do your research when visiting the local businesses — According to Search Engine Journal, 72% of customers say positive reviews make them trust a local business. For the outdoors types, there are biking trails and waterfront walkways to enjoy. And if you’re a cultural enthusiast, you’ve got to see Anchorage’s galleries, museums, and cultural centers all outfitted with the best audio visual technologies. Anchorage is also home to the largest seaport in Alaska, which makes for excellent boat-watching from the waterfront.
The earliest inhabitants of Alaska discovered the state more than 10,000 years ago, and several waves of nomads arrived in the centuries following. The next major arrival was of Russian settlers in the 1700s. The Russians built small communities around Alaska before the land was purchased by the United States. This resulted in multiple fascinating landmarks in the form of old Russian churches, some of which are still in operation today. They may not be modern churches with fancy audio visual technology, but their distinctive architecture make them a joy to look at. Even if you don’t attend services, these architectural beauties are well worth visiting during your trip to Alaska.
It seems as though everything in Alaska is big, including the animals. The world’s largest bears, called Kodiak bears, are native to Alaska’s islands on the Kodiak archipelago. Sadly, the bears are becoming extinct, although hopefully animal scientists will be able to preserve the species. Bring a camera and catch a glimpse of one of these majestic creatures yourself during your stay in Alaska.
No State Taxes
If you like to buy expensive gifts and souvenirs on your travels, consider Alaska as your next destination, because there’s no state sales tax there. Thanks to enormous reserves of oil and other natural resources, Alaska doesn’t need to charge its residents income tax, either. It’s the only region in North America without taxes. Just think: when you see a price tag on something, you’ll know that’s actually the price you’ll pay. How cool is that?
The Northern Lights
The early Inuit inhabitants of Alaska believed that the famous Northern Lights were the spirits of animals and their departed loved ones, flitting watchfully over the land. This may be the single biggest reason why you should visit Alaska, and it’s something you absolutely mustn’t miss while you’re there. It’s safe to say that you’ll appreciate having a furnace to huddle next to while you’re waiting to watch the lights, so one of the best places to watch them from is a cozy cabin in the Fairbanks mountains. Besides renting a lodge in the mountains, you can also join the Northern Lights expedition hosted by the University of Fairbanks. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Few things are as awe-inspiring as watching Kodiak bears catching salmon from a waterfall, or seeing moose graze in a grassy meadow. Alaska is one of the few places left where you can observe animals undisturbed in their natural habitat, outside of Africa. There’s no better place to see the beauty of life in action.
Daytime at Night
As if the Northern Lights and massive glaciers weren’t enough, Alaska is home to one more natural phenomenon: the midnight sun. Every summer for several weeks, the sun never sets. On the day of the Summer Solstice, you can actually trace the sun’s movements around the horizon, instead of over the center of the sky. Vampires may hate this, but vacationers love the long hours of daylight for exploring and sightseeing.
Nighttime During the Day
During the other half of the year, the opposite phenomenon occurs, as the northern-most areas of Alaska go for weeks without ever seeing the sun. Instead of dawn leading into daylight, the most you can see is a few hours of eerie twilight on the horizon each day. Fortunately for southern cities like Anchorage, this only happens in the far north of the state. It’s not the kind of thing you’d want to live through every winter, but it’s a fascinating experience to witness once during your Alaskan vacation.
In spite of its size and potential, Alaska is the single least populated state in America. Not only that, but it’s also one of the least populated places on earth! As such, it’s one of the few places you can go to truly be alone with yourself. It’s also the perfect romantic getaway destination. And even with tourists flocking into the state each summer, because it’s so big, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference. Just remember to stay safe when you’re out by yourself. Bears, wolves, and unpredictable weather can be dangerous to the unsuspecting tourist. Avoid straying too far from your vehicle or cottage.
Some people say that Alaska is the single best place in the world for fishing. It boasts an abundance of lakes, rivers, and coastlines, all teeming with all kinds of fish. If you want a real fishing story to tell your friends back home, Alaska is the destination for you. You don’t even need a boat or fancy gear — an ordinary rod and reel from land will suffice for many kinds of Alaskan fishing.
Have you ever stared longingly at a beautiful desktop background, wondering where on earth they take the pictures for computer wallpapers? Well, Alaska is probably one of those places, as it offers scenery unlike what you can find anywhere else. You won’t be tempted to look at your phone when you’re on a hill, under a sunset, surrounded by dotting lakes and purple lilacs. If you want to experience nature, that’s exactly why you should visit Alaska.
Native Culture and History
If you’ve ever been fascinated by the rich histories of indigenous cultures, Alaska’s museums, cultural centers, and native communities are all reasons why you should visit Alaska. The original natives of North America are still living in communities in Alaska, where they continue to speak Siberian languages and follow customs that have lasted for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If you travel to the deep Arctic circle, 200 miles north of Nome, you’ll find a village that still functions largely as tribal villages did long ago. You should be able to find convenient overnight RV parking anywhere you go, too. This is perhaps the most exciting way to immerse yourself in history.
The Iditarod is the longest dog sled race in the world. Dogs and their owners race 128 miles, from Anchorage to Nome, during the dead of winter. Hundreds of dog sledding fans travel to Alaska each year to see the event and follow the dog sled teams on their journey. You don’t have to rough it in the cold with the dogs, though: there are hotels and lodges all along the route, so you can follow the events of the race in comfort.
If you’re only going to visit one place in all of Alaska, make it the city of Juneau, the state capital. Only around 30,000 people live there — a tenth of the population of Anchorage, which itself isn’t heavily populated — but the bustling city is known around the world for its cultural scene. You might be surprised to learn that Juneau has some of the best catering companies and restaurants on earth, thanks to the culinary masters who live and work there. The city has been featured on the show Top Chef, and even the ever-difficult-to-please Gordon Ramsey has been impressed by Juneau’s restaurants. Beyond its food scene, the city has an independent, artsy, hippy-like feel to it. As you can imagine, this translates into funky restaurants, bars, and cafes galore. Everything you need, including spectacular views, can be found in Juneau. This makes it one of one of the top reasons why you should visit Alaska.
The Kenai Peninsula
Be sure and visit the Kenai Peninsula while you’re in Alaska, as it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the entire state. It juts 150 miles into the Pacific Ocean, just south of Anchorage. Besides being home to two cities, Seward and Sterling, the peninsula boasts impressive mountain ranges, four active volcanos, and one of the most pristine, rugged coastlines you’ll find anywhere.
Although it features bank, fast food joints, and family law attorneys like any other town, this city is said to be the beating heart of Alaska. Located deep within the interior, this is the place to go for an authentic Alaskan lifestyle. You can visit the Alaskan Museum, pan for gold, and even see the Northern Lights from your hotel room window. If an Alaskan road trip is your dream vacation, start in Fairbanks.
The Road Trips
Speaking of road trips, this is another big reason why you should visit Alaska. The best way to explore the state is by car, so get a camera and a sleeping bag, rent a comfortable vehicle, and head out into the wilderness of the Alaskan roads. The Steese Highway starts in Fairbanks, and runs directly through the state’s center. From mountain ranges to wide coastlines, with hundreds of wild animals along the way, it’s bound to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
The Natural Hot Springs
And now we come to the last of our my reasons why you should visit Alaska. When you’re ready to relax from exploring, skiing, fishing, diving, photographing, glacier-climbing, and eating, visit one of Alaska’s natural hot springs. If you thought fancy glass showers are nice, wait until you experience the rugged luxury of a natural spring (luckily, the hotels in Alaska are outfitted with glass showers for your romantic getaway). There are 24 fault lines in Alaska, with the biggest one in the Denali mountain. The Chena hot spring is the most popular one, but if you want to avoid the tourists, the While Sulphuric Springs on Chichagof Island would be your best bet. For a more rugged experience, head to Baranof Warm Springs, which is only accessible by float plane.
As you can see, Alaska is so much more than America’s forgettable northern-most state. These are only a handful of the reasons why you should visit Alaska. Make it your next vacation destination!