Its isolation only adds to the beauty and mystery of State 49, making it an attractive place for intrepid travelers and nature lovers. Along with major cities like Anchorage, it’s essential to get out there and experience the natural landmarks and attractions that make Alaska such a beloved city. When planning your following trip itinerary, be sure to include as many of the following best places to visit in Alaska as possible.
Alaska Travel Tips
Denali National Park
Home to the iconic towering peak of Mount McKinley, which is the highest mountain in the country, Denali National Park is a protected wilderness area where you can see all kinds of wildlife. See bears, elk, wolves, and more as you hike along the Savage River, admire the tranquility of Wonder Lake, or walk through Polychrome Pass. Hiking, whitewater rafting, and backcountry camping are popular ways to explore the national park, but there are also bus tours for a safer and more controlled way to get around. Short, ranger-led trail hikes can be taken at the Denali Visitor Center,
Kenai Fjords National Park
Visiting Kenai Fjords National Park is like stepping back in time to the ice age. Glaciers and ice sheets still exist and touch the ocean’s edge; deep fjords have resulted in valleys of water being formed. These fjords are the ideal home for an abundance of aquatic wildlife, and you can easily see migratory whales, as well as birds, swooping down to feed on fish in the water. Due to icy conditions, many visitors choose to visit Kenai Fjords National Park on a guided day trip, although there are limited options for lodging in the park itself.
Katmai National Park
In southwestern Alaska is Katmai National Park, a picturesque haven near Homer and Kodiak Islands. At the park’s heart is the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a vast ash-flow left over after the Novarupta volcano erupted in 1912. Also, in Katmai National Park, there are incredible opportunities to get up close and personal with local wildlife.
If you’re interested in exploring nature or fishing, then Homer should be on your Alaska itinerary. While in Homer, you can walk along the beach to the iconic Homer Spit, drive down Skyline Drive for fantastic views and spot wildlife at Kachemak Bay State Park, where you’ll find mountain goats, bald eagles, sea lions, whales. Humpbacks and black bears. Halibut fishing day trips are insanely popular, and an impressive loot that local restaurants will gladly cook for your dinner is almost guaranteed.
Although it is not the capital, Anchorage is the largest city in the state of Alaska. Nearly half of the state’s residents live in or around the city, as Anchorage is the economic heart of Alaska. It offers the conveniences of a large American city but is only a 30-minute drive from the Alaskan wilderness.
Alaska’s southernmost city is Ketchikan, a picturesque destination known for being the first stop for many cruise ships heading north along the coast. Visitors can visit the Totem Heritage Center, the Tongass Historical Museum, or the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. The most scenic stretch of downtown is historic Creek Street, within walking distance of the cruise ship docks. Once a rowdy red-light district, Creek Street is home to a quieter kind of establishment these days but still retains its charming historic charm. Ketchikan is an outdoor adventure hub, and there’s no shortage of guided day trips to do things like fish, salmon,
Glacier Bay National Park
A world-renowned place to admire glaciers, get active outdoors, and view wildlife. Kayaking is a fantastic way to get around the park and see a lot at the same time, and there are kayaks available for rent or through guided tours. At Bartlett Cove, hiking trails wind in and around the glaciers. Two of the most visited and photographed places in the park are Muir Inlet, off-limits to motorboats, and the John Hopkins Glacier.
A massive glacier that is calving, or parting, into its adjacent lake. There are several different ways to experience the glacier. Fitter visitors can try the Mendenhall Glacier West Glacier Trail, which is challenging but offers incredible photo opportunities. Also worth visiting is the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which includes glacier exhibits and various viewing platforms.
Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Three mountain ranges named Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias converge in an area known as the North American Mountain Kingdom. The park is home to several visitor information centers and ranger stations.
Alaska’s capital city is Juneau, which serves as a major port for cruise ships sailing through the area. For great views of Juneau, hop on the Mount Roberts Tram. Juneau is also home to several breweries, and there are multiple companies offering tours to heat it on a cold day. Head to Front Street to find plenty of great local souvenir shops and restaurants where you can sample regional cuisine.