20 Best Things To Do In Alaska, US: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Alaska is famous for its stunning landscapes, giant glaciers, pristine forests, romantic cabins, and abundant wildlife. See the tallest mountain in North America, watch the Northern Lights, drive along Alaska Highway 1,500, and explore charming Alaskan towns and cities, including Juneau, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Talkeetna Skagway, Sitka, Haines, Homer and Valdez. These are Alaska’s best places to visit, including Denali, Glacier Bay, and Mendenhall Ice Caves.
1. Denali National Park
Denali National Park is located in central Alaska, with Denali Mountain at its heart. Denali, one of Alaska’s top destinations, is part of the Alaska Range and, with its tallest peak at 20,310 feet, is the tallest mountain in North America.
The top of the mountain is always covered in snow and glaciers, and temperatures can reach minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the extreme cold, the hill and park are home to many animals, including 39 species of mammals and 169 species of birds.
The park’s flora varies according to altitude, from taiga and mixed forests on the lower slopes to the tundra below the snow line. In the summer, the mountain’s slopes are covered with some 650 species of flowering plants.
According to archaeologists, the Athabascan people have lived in the parking area for thousands of years. Denali National Park is one of the most famous places to visit in Alaska, and around 400,000 people come to visit the park each year.
Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island in the Tongass National Forest, a 17-acre rainforest filled with Sitka fir, cedar, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Ketchikan is Alaska’s southernmost town, backed by the forested slopes of Deer Mountain and facing the Tongass Narrows waterway, which is lined with fishing boats, seaplanes, ferries, and barges.
The city hugs the cliffs along the coast for 31 miles, and many businesses are located on the water and can be reached via suspended walkways.
Native Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian arts are visible everywhere in Ketchikan, museums, and totem parks. Ketchikan, one of the best cities to visit in Alaska, is famous for its salmon fishing and is known as the salmon capital of the world.
3. Mendenhall Glacier
The Mendenhall Glacier stretches 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake, one of Alaska’s most famous tourist attractions. It is about a half-mile wide, and the ice is between 300 and 1,800 feet deep.
The glacier has retreated two and a half miles since the mid-1700s. Its magnificent blue comes from its crystalline structure, which affects how light reflects off the ice.
The best way to see the glacier is by kayak up to its face or from a helicopter. Many popular glacier-related activities include ice climbing and ice cave exploration. Some well-maintained hiking trails lead to the glacier.
4. Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is part of the 25 million-acre World Heritage Site and is one of the largest protected areas in the world. It is found where the tectonic plates of North America and the Pacific collide, and the coastal mountains, three miles high, are still rising.
Glacier Bay covers more than three million acres of mountains, glaciers, rain forests, rugged shores, and deep fjords and is one of the best things to do in Alaska. The landscape is constantly changing; glaciers continue to advance and recede, dramatically affecting the landscape.
The Alaska Marine Highway offers easy access to the park from Juneau. Bartlett Cove, near the park headquarters, is nestled in the lush temperate coastal rainforest. It is an excellent place for biking, walking, boating, and fishing. You can also take one of the daily boat trips to see the glaciers.
5. Hubbard Glacier
The Hubbard Glacier is located about 200 miles northwest of Juneau off the Yakutat coast in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
It’s huge, about six miles wide at the point where it meets the ocean, and it’s constantly active. Its two waves in the late 1930s turned Russell Fjord into a lake and nearly flooded Yakutat.
The glacier’s frequent calving is dramatic, and its face, which can be seen on many visiting cruise ships, is approximately 400 feet tall.
Nestled at the base of Denali or Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in the country, Talkeetna is a historic city that is a great starting point to experience true Alaska. Simply taking photos of the mighty Alaska Range is a delight.
Close to Talkeetna, you can go fishing, hiking, skiing, mushing and climbing mountains, take a zip line tour, or visit great art galleries, fine restaurants, and local craft breweries. Talkeetna is a border city like no other.
Where else can you find people looking for gold, or old log cabins built by gold miners over a hundred years ago still stand firm? Take the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna and experience a piece of history.
You can almost feel the frenzy of the gold rush in Skagway. Wooden sidewalks, old halls and shops, and people dressed in late 19th-century clothing greet visitors today just as they did during the city’s heyday when more than 40,000 people descended on Skagway on their way to Yukon with the hope of getting rich quick.
Today, it is all part of the tremendous natural museum, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Today’s gold rush consists of thousands of tourists arriving on many cruise ships during the summer to experience a story.
Take a 45-minute tour of the Skagway Historic District with one of the National Park Service rangers, or take one of the many hiking trails to the city’s calm Alpine lakes and waterfalls.
You can also take the famous Chilkoot Trail for an exhilarating three- to four-day hike that follows the path of the gold rush booms on the way to the Klondike goldfields.
Sitka is Alaska’s little treasure of an island rich in nature, culture and history. Situated on the picturesque Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago, Sitka is surrounded by snow-capped mountains hidden by old pine forests that grow to the waters edge and a myriad of small islands in the archipelago that greet thousands of tourists. Each summer.
It is the city where the Americans came to buy Alaska from the Russians, which is gladly celebrated every year. The culture of the original native inhabitants of Sitka provides much of the city’s vibrancy.
The spectacular surrounding nature is ideal for exploring the outdoors. Hike through the tropical fir and hemlock forest to see the American bald eagle, black-tailed deer, or brown bears at Bear Fortress. Alternatively, you can take a boat trip to see humpback whales, sea otters, lions, and thousands of birds.
Homer is a quirky and charming little town on the shores of Kachemak Bay on the southern Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska. It’s quite a long drive from Anchorage.
It is famous for its excellent fishing (the city is known as the halibut capital of the world), its spectacular nature, and its fantastic art and culinary scene. Homer’s most life revolves around the Spit, the 4.5-mile-long sandbar trail that leads directly to the beautiful blue bay.
Shops and restaurants line this famous street. The Kenai Mountains to the east and north provide a magnificent backdrop and protect the city from the cold, creating an exceptionally mild climate.
Almost any road out of town ends as a walking or biking trail, leading you into the picturesque desert. Like everyone else in the city, go fishing, explore the natural landscapes, or take a boat tour to see the rich marine life.
10. Northern Lights in Fairbanks
The mysterious curtain of eddies, currents, changing purple, yellow, green and red lights that illuminate the night skies is known as the Northern Lights or Northern Lights. Fairbanks, Alaska, is one of the best places on Earth to see this magical spectacle of nature.
The city has two things going for it: it is located in the area around the North Pole called Auroral Oval, and its continental climate allows for clearer nights than other places on the coast. In this area, the lights appear more frequently and are more vivid and fascinating than anywhere else.
The best time to experience it is late at night or early in the morning. Take a dogsled or horse-drawn sleigh to enjoy the Northern Lights in comfort. You can also ask the hotel staff to wake you up when the show starts.
Girdwood is a beautiful mountain town in Alaska surrounded by the peaks of the Chugach Range and surrounded by lush ancient forests, and seven permanent glaciers.
It is located 36 miles south of Anchorage and offers year-round recreational opportunities. It is the perfect city for Nordic skiing, dog mushing, snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, rafting, and much more.
Visit the Chugach Powder Guides for snow and helicopter skiing or the Alyeska Resort for the scenic Cable Car to see stunning views of the water and hanging glaciers.
12. Alaska Destinations: Valdez
The town of Valdez is located in Port Valdez, at the head of the 11-mile fjord in Prince William Sound. It is a small city and one of the most important ports in Alaska, both for fishing and commercial purposes.
It is also an oil terminal for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
For thousands of years, the native Chugach and Ahtna peoples used the area to trade jade, copper, furs, and fish. The protection of the nearby Chugach Mountains keeps the harbour ice-free year-round.
With tidal glaciers, waterfalls, majestic mountains, rainforests, and abundant wildlife on land and at sea, Valdez is a popular tourist destination for those seeking action.
13. Places to Visit in Alaska: Seward
Seward sits at the foot of majestic Mount Marathon off the shore of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. For centuries, the ice-free port of Seward has served as a gateway to the vast, wild and resource-rich interior of Alaska.
The city served as a natural starting point for gold prospectors during the gold rush, and the dogsled trail that led from Seward to the goldfields in Iditarod is now the famous sledge dog race site.
Visit Kenai Fjords National Park, deep glacial lakes, the Harding Icefield, take a kayak tour, participate in a dog sledge race, go salmon or halibut fishing, or take a short plane tour see everything there is to visit from the air.
Haines is located in a deep fjord on a narrow peninsula in northern Southeast Alaska. Like many others, Haines was built on a Chilkat Indian trade route, also used by gold prospectors heading north to Canada.
This spectacularly beautiful little town is surrounded by 20 million acres of protected wilderness areas, with magnificent Takinsha Mountains towering over the city and the famous Chilkat Bald Eagle Reserve just outside.
The most dominant feature of the city is Fort William H. Seward, which today houses galleries, shops, and homes. The town is famous for its large number of artists and totem carvers and the curious Hammer Museum, which contains a collection of 1,500 hammers.
15. Tracy Arm Fjord
Tracy Arm Fjord is 45 miles south of Juneau and is part of the Tongass National Forest. It is one of the two deep and narrow fjords of the Tracy Arm-Fords horror desert. Tracy Arm Fjord is over 30 miles long, and one-fifth of it is covered in ice. During the summer, the fjord has floating ice that ranges from small pieces to the size of a three-story building.
The most common access is through Stephens Pass to Holkham Bay and from the bay to the fjord. Many tour boats visit the fjord and North Sawyer and South Sawyer, the two glaciers at the end. The base of the glaciers is a place where visitors can see local wildlife such as brown and black bears, wolves, deer, seals, and many birds.
16. Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest covers 17 million acres, which is the majority of Southeast Alaska. It is the largest national forest in the United States. It consists of a temperate rainforest rich in wildlife and rare flora.
The area is highly diverse, ranging from the islands of the Alexander Archipelago and numerous fjords and glaciers to the coastal mountains. It is home to 75,000 people, and the largest city in the area is Juneau.
Three Alaska Native nations live in Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian. The Tongass National Forest represents true wild Alaska, offering the unique opportunity to see bears, eagles, and salmon, go sledging down a glacier, hike trails, and fish in the ocean or sea. Wild currents.
17. Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway is a 1,500-mile-long open highway from Dawson Creek in British Columbia to Delta Junction in Alaska. It was carved out of rocks and deep forests in just eight months. As you drive down the Alaska Highway, you will see some of Canada’s most magnificent national parks and the United States.
The further north and west you go, the more spectacular the mountains are. Along the way, you will find bears, moose, wild sheep, and bison.
You can find excellent fishing pits, pan for gold at the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse, walk the trestle bridge at Pouce Coupe, or stop at Dawson Creek for more highway information at the Alaska Highway Museum.
18. Columbia Glacier
The Columbia Glacier is a short boat ride from Valdez Harbor on Prince William Sound. The glacier is more than 550 meters thick and covers 400 square miles at some points. It stretches for 32 miles through the Chugach Mountains and ends at Columbia Bay.
This majestic glacier has drastically retreated since 1982 and is losing 13 million tons of ice every day. Some birthing chunks are so huge that they endanger the tour boats that see the show. On its face, the glacier is up to 400 feet high.
19. Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is located near the city of Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula. It covers an area of 669,984 acres. Its main feature is the Harding Icefield, accessible on foot along the Harding Icefield Trail.
About 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, and the rich marine and terrestrial life live in the park. You can see moose and bears when you walk to Exit Glacier or the whales from the boat, as there are many boat tours from Seward. You can also rent a kayak and explore on your own.
20. Alaska Destinations: Matanuska Glacier
The Matanuska Glacier begins in the Chugach Range in south-central Alaska and is part of Matanuska State Park. It’s Alaska’s largest glacier accessible by car – seen from Glenn Highway after a short two-hour drive from Anchorage. It is 26 miles long and 4 miles wide when it ends.
It’s called the valley glacier; it flows like a river pushed by its weight through the valley. The best way to see the glacier up close is from the private Matanuska Glacier Park. You can cross the glacier alone or in the company of a trained guide.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do In Alaska
What is the number 1 attraction in Alaska?
Denali National Park. In the northern part of the Alaska Range, Denali is the third largest National Park in the United States, encompassing North America’s highest mountain. Denali is the 20,320-foot peak’s traditional name, but modern explorers dubbed it Mount McKinley.
Is Alaska expensive?
Yes, overall Alaska is one of the more expensive states to live in in the entire United States of America. Due to our location, and the necessity of shipping or flying everything in, our costs of goods and services is much higher than the average state.
Is Anchorage safe for tourists?
Anchorage is a very safe city for it’s size. The traveler should rarely have a problem with crime while visiting. Areas around Spenard have a higher crime rate than other neighborhoods in Anchorage as well as some sections of Mountain View. These areas aren’t violent, there is just more open drug use in these areas.
Do and don’ts in Alaska?
Never keep food in a tent overnight (not even toothpaste or bug spray), and don’t camp along animal paths, especially near a lake or river. Bears use these trails. Do try the local berries, but avoid the poisonous baneberry—it looks like a red black-eyed pea when ripe.
Is Alaska safe for tourists?
Sadly, crime rates are not low in Alaska’s larger cities, although muggings are rare. Take the normal precautions you’d take at home. You’re safe in daylight hours anywhere tourists commonly go, less so late at night leaving a bar or walking in a lonely place.
How should I prepare for Alaska?
Add a top layer of a lightweight or heavy weight (depending on the weather) coat to keep you warm. You’ll also want to bring heavy weight pants rated for the extreme elements. To help keep your legs warm, add fleece-lined leggings, poly pro long underwear or thermals under your outer layer.
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