Alaska is by far one of the most exciting regions to visit in the world. The reasoning for this is quite simple – it is the “final frontier” for most tourists and a tempting playground for hardcore adventurers. However, do not be taken aback by its vast wilderness and harsh climate! It is as enticing to casual vacationers as it is to adrenaline junkies. If you are having second thoughts on visiting this captivating corner of the globe, here is the ultimate guide to visiting Alaska that might convince you to give it a chance.
Alaska, the Last Frontier, the 49thstate, is by far the largest state in the US but it is separated from the rest of the country by Canada. In theory, it is connected to the US via the Pacific, but in order to get there by land, you will have to take the renowned Alcan Highway (or the “lower 48”). Because it lies on the Arctic Circle, most of Alaska’s surface is covered with harsh wilderness in form of pine woods, snowy mountaintops and colossal glaciers. The currency is, naturally, the US dollar and the capital of Alaska is Juneau.
The most opportune time to visit
The best time to visit Alaska is during the summer, simply because temperatures are much more reasonable. Furthermore, long and harsh winters render most of the roads dangerous and the infrastructure of the entire region becomes quite boxed in. Still, it is an extremely popular season for very experienced snowboarders and other adventurists who enjoy winter sports. The prime travel season stretches between June and August. “Shoulder seasons”, which mostly peak in May and September, are a good opportunity to cut the costs (the prices tend to deflate by 25%).
While Juneau is indeed the capital of the state, Anchorage and Fairbanks are much more renowned urban hotspots due to the bustling tourism and their opportune geographical locations. While you can visit these cities on your own and arrange the activities for yourself, if you are a first-time visitor to the Alaskan land, it is much smarter to choose one of the extraordinary Alaska winter packages that will give you a perfect “sum total” experience of the state – a little bit of everything. This rundown can help you determine what you truly enjoy about Alaska, and you can then “funnel” your experience accordingly.
Still, wintertime in Alaska is far from uneventful. Fairbanks becomes the hub for all activities on snow and the proximity of numerous national parks renders it a hotbed of like-minded individuals. Girdwood, south of Anchorage, becomes the Mecca of winter sports and the famed city itself is the home of Fur Rondy, the winter festival. Furthermore, there is the Iditarod race which begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome. This all goes without even mentioning the northern lights – Fairbanks is the prime spot for watching Aurora Borealis. Such activities and occasions comprise Alaska’s winter season which reaches its peak between February and mid-March.
Alaskan wilderness offers a plethora of captivating activities to take part in. You can hike across gargantuan, epically old glaciers like Matanuska or the famed Spencer Glacier. You can go on a hike by the Hatcher Pass or, if you are a kayaking enthusiast and don’t fear a splash of cold water, go on an unforgettable kayaking adventure. If these activities appear to be too extreme for you, you can have a “laid-back” hike on the Reed Lakes Trail or follow the idyllic Coastal Trail in Anchorage.
You can also visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a place that keeps some of the most awe-inspiring endemic species of animals in this corner of the world – from bear to moose. Just look for a professional guide first and make sure to follow procedure when it comes to protection. Many of these animals are not only awe-inspiring because they are big, they can also be really dangerous, even when they are not outright provoked. Therefore, the best way to observe them is with binoculars from a safe distance, or you can embark on a journey through the wilderness in a well-equipped, strong four-wheeler.
The Last Frontier known as Alaska appears to be worlds apart from the United States, yet it is part of the union at the same time. This means that you will get an eclectic mix of untamed landscapes, American hospitality and the Alaskan Native culture. If you are a history buff who is in love with traditions of particular regions, Alaska is a true goldmine for you. If you love casual road trips, beautiful vistas and laid-back vacations, Alaska is everything you have hoped for. If you are an adrenaline junkie, Alaska has daredevil activities to spare. It is truly an incredible place to visit and you will never regret giving it a chance.