The lure of the Alaskan wilderness ran strong long before the formal signing of the Alaska Statehood Act on Independence Day, 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it continues to do so to this day. Even now, nearly six decades after becoming a state, Alaska remains one of the last great unspoiled areas on earth. It's no surprise that the state's glacial mountain beauty, rugged wilderness, and quaint coastal fishing villages combine to put it at the top of the list for many when planning a vacation. But Alaska is huge in size - 663,268 square miles, to be exact - so choosing an actual vacation destination can be difficult. Whether you are planning a first vacation to Alaska or one of many return visits, the following list of must-sees will help ensure that each visit is even better than the last!
Considered the pinnacle of the National Park System, Denali National Park now encompasses approximately six million acres of wild, natural beauty at its finest. Perfect for those looking for a true wilderness adventure, a vacation in Denali can include mountain climbing on Mount Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), bus tours through wildlife areas, or a backpacking adventure your family will never forget.
The chance to see glaciers is something that most people never get, so it makes sense to include a visit to one or more of Alaska's famous glaciers on your list of Alaskan vacation must-dos.
A World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay National State Park, offers a unique opportunity to see glaciers as well as experience whale songs, bear and eagle sightings, and many of the varieties of flora and fauna that add to the state's beauty. (Remember to plan well in advance for a visit to Glacier Bay, due to strict permit regulations. Actual entry for properly permitted guests, however, is free of charge.)
Popular for its frequent, spectacular glacial "calving" activities, (a term used to describe the breaking off of large chunks of glacier ice that then crash into the sea), Hubbard Glacier remains an active glacier. Extending some 400 feet above the water, its beauty makes it a popular destination for those who want to experience - or photograph -breathtaking glacial beauty.
Accessible by smaller cruise ships, paddle-wheelers, and small excursion boats from the Juneau area, Tracy Arm Fjord offers the opportunity to see icebergs and travel through a wilderness passageway that culminates near the base of both the North and South Sawyer Glaciers. Icebergs abound in the Tracy Arm Fjord, offering spell-binding color changes that range from the palest of blues to the deepest aquas and charcoal grays.
Along with stunning natural beauty, Totem Bright State Historic Park offers a glimpse of the native cultures that shaped the area. Art lovers and historians alike with enjoy seeing the native art on display, including the restored wooden totems from generations past. Alive with Tlingit and Haida myths and history, Totem Bright State Historic Park stands as a proud monument that every visitor will want to experience.
Even if your visit does not correspond with the actual running of this most famous of dog sled races, a visit to the 2,300-mile trail network is sure to be a historically thrilling adventure. Spend a day hiking or biking along the trail through hauntingly beautiful wilderness areas or choose the more adventurous routes that takes you through pristine mountain streams and breathtaking gorges. Visitors to the Iditarod National Historic Trail can even stop to rest at one of the historic safety cabins along the route, where generations of Iditarod racers have taken shelter in the past.
These are just a few of the many vacation destinations Alaska offers. Your Alaska vacation rental expert can offer you even more tips on what to see while vacationing in Alaska, as well as helping you book the best accommodations for a truly memorable Alaskan vacation.
Ryan Tollefsen - Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group. Ryan specializes in negotiating offers, marketing, managing the team, setting goals and achieving them.