What’s So Cool About Alaska?
When I think about Alaska, the first thing that comes to mind is the vast wilderness. If you’ve seen the movie “Into the Wild” you know what I’m talking about; the real-life story of a young Christopher McCandless, who eventually took the name Alexander Supertramp and his journey of self-awareness in search for happiness through the great wilderness of Alaska alongside his .22 caliber rifle.
Being said, Alaska isn’t all trees, bleak weather, desolate wilderness, glaciers, bears, and more bears. It’s all of these and much, much more. It is a sleepy state with some of the best sights and adventure experiences nature has to offer. So if you’ve been thinking of heading towards that perfect new destination, Alaska might be just what you’re looking for. Alaska is THE special place for adventure buffs and thrill seekers. Let’s check it out…
Wilderness and Mountains
As mentioned earlier, Alaska’s wilderness is one of the most amazing on the planet. Alaska is United States’ largest state that covers a land area of 586,412 square miles. Despite having this huge land area, most of it is inaccessible due to limited transportation methods. Therefore, much of the mountains and wilderness have remained untouched, unexplored, and have become living grounds to some of the most dangerous and beautiful animals in all of the U.S.
Alaska also offers mountain scenery that you won’t see anywhere else in the U.S. The mountain peaks and natural terrains that stretch for hundreds of miles on end offer a breathtaking experience that will stay in your heart forever. It’s in the summer when Alaska offers the best time to explore its natural wonders.
Mt. Mckinley, otherwise known as Denali (meaning: The Great One) by the locals, stands at 20, 320 feet above sea level and is known as the tallest peak in North America. This majestic mountain will enthrall any viewer as its splendor is both spell-binding and humbling. And here’s a fun fact for you: out of the 20 tallest mountains in North America, Alaska is home to 17 of them.
Despite its massive size, Alaska is only home to some 710,000 people, leaving most of the uninhabited areas to its amazing wildlife. The island of Kodiak is where the world’s largest bear species can be found, the Kodiak Brown Bear. Also, it is here where you can find the world’s largest population of bald eagles.
At Katmai National Park and Preserve, tourists need to undergo a lesson at “Brooks Camp School of Bear Etiquette” before being allowed to view the bear cubs and adults on platforms within Brooks River. After which, the bears can be observed in their natural habitat without disrupting their daily activities.
The unfortunate effect of global warming has brought the endangered polar bears to scavenge food down to Kaktovik, a village near the border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The area offers numerous boat tours that take tourists to see these beautiful beasts. The residents of Kaktovik have also come up with polar bear patrol tactics to discourage bears from entering homes in search for food.
If there is one particular wild life that Alaska is truly known for, it’s moose. Moose can be found everywhere – in the forest, on the road, in the city, in your backyard. Or in other words, if you haven’t stood eye to eye with a moose while going to the supermarket, you really haven’t arrived yet to Alaska.
Five percent of Alaska’s total land area is covered in ice. St. Elias National Park and Preserve in the mountain of Wrangell is home to 150 out of Alaska’s 100,000 glaciers, some covering areas about as big as New York City. Some of these glaciers have already been explored and some remain untouched to this day.
Tourists can walk down Root Glaciers with crampons. Glacial pools, icy streams and the towering Stairway Icefall await the adventurous. The later being a massive wall standing over 7,000 feet tall of untouched ice sculpted to perfection by nature.
Tourists may also observe calving glaciers, a spectacular effect brought about when sea water crashes through the glaciers which causes the massive ice blocks to crack and crash into the water below. A trip to Holgate Glaciers in Kenai Fjord National Park makes a great spot to experience the thundering blasts of calving glaciers.
Gold Rush History
Yukon Railway literally takes you back to the Gold Rush era. The Klondike Gold Rush initiated the construction of a narrow-gauge railroad in 1898. To this day, this historical landmark still transports visitors in its vintage cars 3,000 feet above sea level. The 40-mile trip takes visitors through White Pass Summit to admire another angle of the gorgeous glacial rivers.
The city of Skagway also offers a share of historical reminiscence as the city became one of the most notable ports of gold-rushers way back in the late 1800s.
Rightfully named, Alaskan wild salmon is definitely the king of all salmon. Alaska offers unlimited fishing opportunities whether you’re game to the sport, or even just looking to throw something on the BBQ later tonight. However, if casting a line isn’t for you, there are practically limitless restaurants which offer the freshest salmon in the world. Believe me, once you taste fresh Alaskan salmon , you’ll never touch another can of salmon again.
Of course, in this article I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg. On top of these spectacular sites and activities, Alaska offers many other ways to enjoy the amazing state. If North America’s tallest peak and the world’s largest bears still haven’t gotten your attention, Smithsonian’s Guide to Awesome provides endless reasons to visit Alaska now.