With vast expanses of wilderness draping the land, plenty of bears and moose, and mountain peaks that soar into the clouds, Alaska is undeniably one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. and a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Winters here are long and cold, but the Northern Lights color the sky in emerald and violet hues and help make up for the surplus darkness. Conversely, the summer sun seldom sets, and a 2 AM hike is a common activity. With so much vast wilderness to explore, it's hard to know where to start, but no matter when you come or where you go, America's last great frontier promises to leave you in awe of its grandeur.
Some of the state's most popular attractions and activities include:
- Prince William Sound: A perfect place to launch your northern adventures, Prince William Sound offers spectacular panoramas of the glacier-frosted mountains that lead into a picturesque harbor.
- Anchorage: The state's largest city offers many excellent caf‚s and the friendliest group of people you'll meet.
- Go for a cruise: Alaska cruises are extremely popular and offer casual visitors an excellent way to take in a broad sampling of the state's endless natural attractions and scenery.
- Commune with nature: The state is filled with Alaska National Parks, offering sights and sounds you simply can't see anywhere else. You can visit Alaska fishing lodges to go ice fishing, take an Alaska dog sledding trip across the snow-covered ground or simply explore and enjoy the awesome scenery.
- Journey the Dalton Highway: The only trace of civilization through 414 miles of spectacular wilderness, the Dalton Highway runs from just north of Fairbanks to Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean, and is one of only two roads in North America that cross the Arctic Circle.
Temperatures in Alaska are at their mildest in July, but summers are relatively short given the state's northern location. Spring and fall are excellent times to visit if you want to rough it in the outdoors, as you'll still get some daylight along with plenty of fresh snow.
Instead of staying in a hotel, why not experience the uniqueness of Alaska by staying in a cabin? These rustic vacation rentals offer more space and privacy with all the amenities of home. If you're staying in a major city like Anchorage or Juneau, you can also get a condo that will comfortably house couples, families and groups.
Expand your exploration of North America's majestic north by trekking into neighboring Canada. The Yukon Territory borders Alaska and offers a similar wealth of spectacular scenery, gold rush-era boom towns and friendly hospitality.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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