A guide to America's Last Frontier

Updated October 2023
Nestled in the wilds of North America lies a land of breathtaking beauty and unparalleled adventure — welcome to Alaska, the Last Frontier.

As the largest state in the United States, Alaska showcases beauty from towering mountain ranges and vast glaciers to pristine forests and rugged coastlines. This state offers an array of experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Join me on an extraordinary journey through this untamed wonderland, where every corner reveals a new and awe-inspiring facet of nature's grandeur.

What to Do

Hiking Adventures in Alaska
Alaska is a hiker's paradise with its vast and diverse landscapes. Whether you're a novice or an experienced trekker, the state has no shortage hiking trails for all skill levels.

One iconic destination is Denali National Park, home to North America's tallest peak, Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley). Here, you can embark on thrilling hikes through pristine wilderness while spotting wildlife like grizzly bears and caribou.

For a coastal experience, explore the stunning trails of Kenai Fjords National Park, where glaciers meet the ocean, or head to the Chugach State Park near Anchorage for picturesque mountain trails. With thousands of miles of trails, Alaska promises unforgettable hiking adventures amidst breathtaking scenery.
See the Northern Lights
Fairbanks, Alaska, is a prime destination for witnessing the captivating Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.

The city's unique location within the Auroral Oval, a region with high auroral activity, offers exceptional opportunities to experience this natural wonder. From late August to mid-April, when the skies are darkest, Fairbanks becomes a haven for aurora chasers.

The mesmerizing display of colorful lights dancing across the Arctic heaven is a sight to behold, with green and pink hues often dominating the spectacle.

You need a dark, clear night to get a good view of the lights! Bundle up in warm clothing, head away from city lights and find a spot where there's no light pollution, and prepare to be awed by the magic of the Northern Lights.
World-Class Fishing Excursions
Alaska is renowned worldwide for its exceptional fishing opportunities, drawing anglers from far and wide. The state's pristine rivers, lakes, and coastal waters teem with salmon, halibut, trout, and more.

From fly fishing in remote streams to deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Alaska, you'll find a fishing experience tailored to your interests.

The Kenai River is famous for its salmon runs, while Kodiak Island offers exceptional saltwater fishing for halibut.

Whether you're an avid fisherman or a novice looking to cast a line, Alaska's waters hold the promise of landing the catch of a lifetime.

Chena Hot Springs

Talkeetna

When to Go

What do you want to do? Are you aiming to take on several hikes? Or, are you looking to go skiing, dog-sledding, and chase the Northern Lights? I hope you said YES to all of the above! If so, that means you've got at least a couple of trips in your future to Alaska to catch these activities during the right time of the year.

Winter in Alaska: Alaska's winter is a breathtaking but formidable season, characterized by extreme cold and extended darkness.

From November to March, temperatures  plummet well below freezing, especially in the interior and northern regions. In cities like Fairbanks and Barrow, the polar night occurs, where the sun remains below the horizon for several weeks.

Despite the harsh conditions, winter in Alaska offers a unique charm. It's the perfect time for snow sports enthusiasts, with opportunities for dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
The ethereal Northern Lights often dance across the clear night skies, providing a stunning natural spectacle. Travelers can cozy up in remote cabins or enjoy winter festivals.

Summer in Alaska:
Alaska's summer, which spans from late May to early September, is a time of remarkable transformation. The state awakens from its icy slumber and begins to soak in the sun it has missed. Days grow longer, and in some parts, like Anchorage, you can experience the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun, with 24-hour daylight.

Summer in Alaska is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. The state's national parks, such as Denali and Kenai Fjords, are accessible, offering the chance to spot grizzly bears, moose, and bald eagles.

The warmth also brings an explosion of wildflowers, making it a visually stunning season to explore the Last Frontier. It's essential to be prepared for rapidly changing weather patterns, even during the summer, as Alaska's climate can be unpredictable.

Where to Stay

I highly recommend you stay in cabins over hotels when traveling in Alaska to embrace a truly unique and immersive experience. Cabins provide a cozy and rustic atmosphere that perfectly complements Alaska's wild and untamed landscapes.

Imagine waking up to the sound of a rushing river, stepping outside to a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains, or witnessing the Northern Lights dance across the night sky from the comfort of your own cabin. Let me tell you, it's amazing!

These accommodations often offer a sense of seclusion and connection to nature that hotels can't replicate. Whether you're seeking a remote wilderness escape or a charming cabin nestled in a quaint Alaskan town, choosing cabins over hotels ensures an unforgettable and authentic Alaskan experience that captures the essence of this breathtaking state.

Countryside Retreats
Using VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to find lodging in Alaska can be an excellent choice for travelers seeking a more personalized and home-like experience during their stay.

Alaska offers a wide range of unique vacation rentals, from cozy cabins nestled in the wilderness to waterfront cottages and charming city apartments.

The VRBO platform is especially ideal for families, groups, or travelers looking for extended stays, as you can find options that accommodate various budgets and preferences.
Alaska is home to the largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This colossal park covers an area of approximately 13.2 million acres, which is larger than Switzerland! Wrangell-St. Elias is known for its rugged mountain ranges, glaciers, and diverse wildlife, making it a wilderness enthusiast's dream destination. It's a place where you can witness the grandeur of nature on an epic scale, with vast stretches of untamed wilderness waiting to be explored.

Budget $

Budgeting for a trip to Alaska can be a rewarding experience, as it's a state where you don't have to spend a fortune to have an incredible adventure. Alaska offers a plethora of opportunities for budget-conscious travelers to explore its pristine wilderness, vibrant culture, and unique wildlife without breaking the bank.

From affordable accommodations like cabin rentals and campgrounds to a wealth of free or low-cost outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing, Alaska's vast and breathtaking landscapes are accessible to travelers with varying budgets.

With planning and an emphasis on experiencing the natural wonders and local charm, Alaska can be an unforgettable destination that proves you don't need to spend extravagantly to have an amazing and immersive trip.
Starting with lodging, you can find reasonably priced options that still offer comfort and authenticity. Budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses can cost between $60 to $120 per night, while camping in public campgrounds can be as low as $15 per night. This allows you to experience Alaska's nature up close while keeping lodging costs in check.

Alaska offers a plethora of activities for the conscious traveler. Exploring national parks like Denali or Kenai Fjords may require an entrance fee, typically around $15 to $30 per person, but the experience is worth it. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and glacier cruises are excellent options for budget-friendly outdoor adventures.

With thoughtful planning and a budget of approximately $150 to $250 per day, including lodging, food, and activities, budget-conscious travelers can fully appreciate the enchanting landscapes and cultural riches that Alaska has to offer while respecting financial limits.

Facts

Breathtaking Glaciers

Alaska is home to over 100,000 glaciers, including the famous Glacier Bay National Park, which boasts 1,045 square miles of glaciers. These icy giants are awe-inspiring.

The Midnight Sun

Alaska experiences the Midnight Sun phenomenon during the summer months, particularly in the northern regions. In places like Barrow and Prudhoe Bay, the sun doesn't set for weeks, creating a surreal landscape where daytime activities continue around the clock.

Gold Rush Legacy

Alaska played a pivotal role in the late 19th-century Gold Rush, attracting fortune seekers from around the world. The historic Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 saw a rush of prospectors into the Yukon, with many passing through Alaska on their way to strike it rich.

Home to the Kodiak Bear

Grizzly bears are not the only bears you can find in Alaska. The state is also home to the Kodiak bear, which is the largest bear species in North America. These massive bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds or more, dwarfing even the famed polar bears.

The Kodiak bear population primarily resides on Kodiak Island, off the southern coast of mainland Alaska, where their size and strength are a testament to the state's unique and diverse wildlife.

While both Kodiak bears and grizzly bears are omnivorous and feed on a wide range of plants and animals, the diet of Kodiak bears is heavily influenced by the abundance of salmon during the spawning season. Grizzly bears, on the other hand, have a more diverse diet that can vary depending on their location and the time of year.

Location & Population

Situated in the far northwestern corner of North America, Alaska shares its borders with Canada to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south.

Despite its immense size, Alaska's population is relatively sparse, with roughly 731,000 residents. It has one of the lowest population densities, making it a haven for solitude and pristine natural landscapes.

This unique combination of immense landmass and a relatively small population creates a striking contrast, allowing the state to preserve its pristine natural beauty while offering exciting opportunities for adventure and exploration in its rugged wilderness.

Transportation

Renting a car from the airport in Alaska is often the best transportation option for travelers seeking to fully immerse themselves in the state's breathtaking natural beauty. The vast and remote landscapes of Alaska are best explored with the freedom and flexibility that a car rental provides.

From the moment you touch down, having a vehicle at your disposal allows you to embark on an epic road trip, venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems, and witness the state's iconic wildlife at your own pace.

Whether you're driving along the scenic Seward Highway, navigating the dramatic Denali National Park, or chasing the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, renting a car from the airport ensures you can make the most of your Alaskan adventure, all while savoring the sense of independence that defines this remarkable destination.

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