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Known as America's Last Frontier, Alaska magnetizes travelers with untamed wilderness and the promise of solitude. A region of extremes, Alaska swings between warm summers and demanding winters (when the Yukon River freezes solid); from bustling port cities to outdoor expanses. Fairbanks serves as a gateway to Chena Hot Springs and the Arctic Circle's Northern Lights, while cruises past abundant marine wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park are best accessed from Seward. Dogsled and pan for gold on the Skagway section of the Yukon River; go white-water rafting on rapids that flow from the Mendenhall Glacier; soar over Denali National Park on a flightseeing tour; or feast on salmon and enjoy easy access to Mt. Roberts from Juneau's historic downtown. If you're looking to cover the highlights of the vast state, take the scenic Alaska Railroad route to popular visitor stops such as Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Whittier, or delve into Gold Rush-era history on a journey to White Pass Summit. At Ketchikan's zipline adventure park, kids and adults alike will love flying over the Alaskan rain forest and observing black bears. With opportunity for adventure at every turn, you're sure to submit to the call of the wild during your time in Alaska.
Late May to early September is a safe bet throughout all of Alaska: restaurants, parks, tours, and services will be open or operating, and the weather will be largely temperate and enjoyable. Outside of those months, you may run into more “closed for the season” signs, but you’ll also nab discounts, run into fewer crowds, witness wildlife coming into or out of their slumber, and, with a bit of luck, you’ll catch the northern lights.
Southeastern Alaska is the only portion of the state that has an extensive road network. Still, considering the size of the state—larger than Texas, Montana, and California combined—having access to your own wheels is helpful if you want to bounce from one spot to the next or drive the Dalton Highway. Otherwise, many visitors utilize the Alaska Railroad to get to spots like Denali National Park, and seaplanes, bush planes, or ferries will be necessary to go anywhere further off-grid.
Keep your itinerary open and simple—you’ll be surprised how often you want to stop when you’re on the road. There are incredible roadside hikes (Lion’s Head on the Glenn Highway in the Mat-Su Valley), scenic viewpoints (Wrangell-St. Elias from the Richardson Highway), and you might even have to stop for muskox, reindeer, bears, and wood bison (especially on Seward Highway). Pick up a copy of The Milepost paper travel guide for mile-by-mile highlights of wherever you’re exploring.
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By many accounts, Denali National Park and Preserve is the number one attraction in Alaska—it usually receives around 500,000 visitors a year, and it’s by far the most popular Alaska national park by the numbers. Beyond the state’s big-ticket parks, riding the Alaska Railroad is another popular attraction....More
No, Alaska is not always cold. In fact, even Fairbanks—the main hub of the colder Interior region—experiences temperate summers, with sunny days and temperatures around 70°F (21°C). While Alaska does win the “coldest state” contest, northern states such as Minnesota and North Dakota are sometimes colder than Alaska in winter....More
What you shouldn’t miss in Alaska depends on your interests. Most visitors prioritize seeing wildlife (like bears), catching the northern lights (seasonal), relaxing in nature, learning about Indigenous history, and visiting national parks. Tours are good for seeing a lot in a short amount of time—and for eliminating transportation hassles....More
People go to Alaska for all sorts of reasons. Some go to experience wild nature—in particular, Denali National Park. Some go for Indigenous or gold rush-era history; some go for the local cuisine and scenic small towns; and some for the hot springs and to take in the northern lights....More
As a visitor, avoid the urge to pack too much into one trip. Even if you feel like this is your one chance to see Alaska once, take your time. You’ll want to travel slowly—like via the Alaska Railroad—see the national parks, and enjoy time spent with Mother Nature....More
Many people know Alaska as home to the Iditarod, a world-famous long-distance sled dog race, held yearly in March. Two other things the 49th state is also known for is the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896 and for having much of the United States’ most untrammeled swaths of old-growth wilderness....More