15 Adventurous Reasons Why Alaska Should Be Your Next Bucket List Destination from 15 Adventurous Reasons Why Alaska Should Be Your Next Bucket List Destination
15 Adventurous Reasons Why Alaska Should Be Your Next Bucket List Destination
Alaska does have breathtaking mountains and many Siberian huskies but tourists may be surprised to find that the Last Frontier is much more than a piece of land that borders Canada, braves cold climate for a big part of the year, and has lots of bears. Just a short trip will have you see more than you could have imagined. You’ll be planning your next trip to Alaska on your way home.
Husky Dog Sledding
Do you love the outdoors, winter sports, that insane adrenaline rush? Travel over ice and through snow on a dog sled. Thrill-seekers will want to visit Denali National Park in the winter to embark on exciting dog sledding tours. The two main types of dogs selected for these tours include Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes.
Lodges in the woods
An off the beaten path mountain escape may be just what you need to break out from it all and rejuvenate for the months ahead. This type of thrill – staying at pastoral lodges set deep in nature near ski resorts and in the middle of lush forests – is a real bliss. All of the countryside spoils are literally outside the door. The simplicity of staying at a cabin, hut or a yurt, is charming and captivating. Imagine just you surrounded by mountains, snow and stillness and peace.
The Rocky Mountaineer train
See incredible panoramas of mighty mountains, intimidating glaciers, huge waterfalls, and historic sites from the comfort of you cabin of this iconic train. You’ll get to see turquoise blue waters, snow-capped mountains and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rocky Mountaineer’s rail routes offer you the most jaw-dropping sights the Canadian Rockies have to offer. You’ll stop at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Seward.
Get close to polar bears
Visit Kaktovik to get up close and personal with polar bears. The surroundings of this Arctic village are home to about 80 of them and they attract thousands of tourists every fall season. Sometimes the bears even make it into the town at night. You can go on a tour that will take two full days of Polar Bear viewing by boat and half a day of Polar Bear viewing from land.
And other wild animals
They are everywhere. You might spot a family of otters while waiting for the ferry in Juneau or a bear fishing for salmon as you cast a line on a quest for your own catch. In the Chillkat Valley bald eagles are a common sight to see (in the autumn months the bald eagle population rises to nearly 3,500) and you might also come across humpback wales, harbor seals, porcupines, moose and red foxes. These are just a few of the animals that inhabit the land.
One of the best places in Alaska to see whales is Kodiak Island. Its waters include fin, minke, sei, humpback and gray whales, according to Discover Kodiak. Whale migration to northern waters begins in April starting with the gray whale. In June you can expect to see the others as well. Fins and humpbacks are common June through November. Many charter boats and marine wildlife tour are available. You can also spot whales from many cliff sides or beaches including Miller Point at Fort Abercrombie State Park.
Remote hiking trails
Explore the wilderness by hiking trails many people don’t know about. Get a true feeling of the spectacular scenery Alaska is famous for – glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, mine ruins, and berries. A single hiking trail will take you through several mountain ecosystems. You’ll see towering cottonwood trees, meadows and forests.
Mighty and untouched mountains
Denali is an awe-inspiring mountain that you can actually climb. Mount McKinley is the tallest summit in North America. The 20,320-foot-tall mountain is just one of the national park’s amazing features. The best time to attempt to climb it is in May and June. Most people choose the West Buttress route. Denali is about 170 miles from Fairbanks and about 130 miles from Anchorage. You won’t make a mistake whichever mountain you choose to explore. Alaska takes mountainous terrain to an entirely new level; the pointy peaks go on for miles and miles and will leave you feeling excited and humbled all at once.
Ice fishing is an exciting outdoor winter recreation. The idea of pulling a giant perch through a hole in the ice, beneath which there is nothing but water, is quite thrilling. Interior Alaska has some of the best ice fishing opportunities in the state. There are dozens of lakes swirling with fish to choose from, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Most ice fishermen end up on one of the three principle lakes found along the Richardson Highway.
One of the longest zip-lines in the world
Ice Straight Point, Alaska is home to one of the longest zip line rides in the world at 5,495 feet. Cruise ship passengers start at Icy Straight Point, hop in a tour van and drive 6 miles up the mountain to the top state of the ZipRider. Ride over cliffs and observe the spectacular views surrounding you.
See glaciers before they melt
Visit the Glacier Bay National Park which allows you to get up close and personal with glowing blue glaciers. You’ll be in awe of the scenic fjords, coves, and waterfalls. The Glaciers are melting rapidly, so book your visit before the scenery is forever changed or more protected from tourism. Make time for the Mendenhall Glacier. The incredible caves are constantly on the move as the glacier inches towards Mendenhall Lake and changes shape along the way. The best way to access them is from the West Glacier Trail with the help of a guide.
Uncrowded national parks
The five national parks in Alaska offer a “rustic” experience, not tainted by giant tour buses and camera-happy tourists. Consider the less visited national parks – each sees fewer than 100,000 visitors annually. Alaska is already the most sparsely populated state, and its parks cover millions of acres of essentially untamed wilderness.
Explore places only accessible by boat
Part of what makes the Kenai Fjords National Park, where Fox Island is, so appealing to adventure enthusiasts is its remoteness. The best way to get to the scary cliffs, protected coves and beautiful beaches is to paddle there. Your companions in the water will most likely be sea lions, otters and whales, while those in the air will be bald eagles and puffins.
Alaska cruises are very popular. They are a great way to tour the coastline. There’s no better way to experience the state’s stunning shore. Whether you choose to set sail via a cruise-liner trip (which operate May through September) or a short, day-long ferry excursion, you’re sure to witness unbelievable views more scenic than you could ever imagine. Bonus: You will cool off when the weather is hot.
Sam Wasson, UAA Athletics
Do you like to run? Or just watch other people run and cheer them on? Can’t wait for your next destination race? Alaska hosts a handful of road races throughout the year and many of them boast unique themes and courses. Like the Klondike Trail of ’98 Road Relay from Skagway to Whitehorse, the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage or the Glacier 10K & Mile Run in Juneau. This makes the city one of the best places to celebrate summer solstice.