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Alaska, the last frontier, is a state that has always interested only the most adventurous travelers, or so it seems.
I always thought of Alaska as a remote, wild place—cold, snowy, and full of wild animals. After spending three months in the northernmost state in the USA, I can vouch for the remote wilderness and wild animals, but it’s so much more than that.
Alaska is an exciting destination with a lot to offer and a lot to experience.
If you’ve ever wondered; What is Alaska famous for? Then you’re about to find out.
In this guide, we’ve listed some of the amazing things Alaska is famous for, so you can understand what this state is all about.
What is Alaska famous for?
Here are some of the amazing things Alaska is known for and several reasons why you should add this unique and rustic state to your bucket list.
1. Long daylight hours in the summer
Many people assume that Alaska’s weather is cold year-round, but this is not true during the summer months.
In fact, Alaska is also called the Land of the Midnight Sun, so during June and July you’ll get almost 24 hours of sunlight!
This also means that during the winter you get 24 hours of darkness. However, this is not a bad thing, because with darkness you get…
2. Northern lights
That’s right, you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska! This luminous display can usually be seen in northern locations towards the Arctic Circle.
Most people travel to the Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks (198 miles south of the Arctic Circle) to see this unique natural phenomenon in the sky.
The best time of year to see them is from August through April when the seasons transition to fall and winter, when the skies become dark enough to see them.
Typically, the northern lights occur around 10:00 PM – 2:00 AM, but they can occur at any time. Just keep your eyes on the sky!
If you’re only visiting places like Anchorage or Juneau, you might miss the lights because they’re so far south, but sometimes you get lucky!
3. Great hiking trails
Alaska takes any hiking experience to a new level because there are so many places where you won’t find hiking trails. It is up to you to decide whether you will go north, south, east or west.
Alaska is home to North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley, which sits at 6,190 meters above sea level. If you want to hike this beast, it will take 23 days and some oxygen tanks, plus some ski gear.
So, if you prefer a more manageable hike, I recommend hiking part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, which spans over 2,300 miles and follows the historic route of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
This popular trail takes you through rugged terrain, frozen rivers, and remote wilderness, allowing hikers to immerse themselves in Alaska’s untamed beauty.
Then there’s the challenging Flattop Mountain Trail in Anchorage to the scenic Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park, or the Chilkoot Trail in Skagway, which weaves through historic gold rush sites and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time visitor, Alaska’s trails cater to all skill levels and offer unforgettable experiences in some of the most pristine wilderness on Earth.
You can watch a short video about hiking in Alaska here:
4. Denali Highway
Another thing that Alaska is famous for is adventure travel Denali Expressway – One of the most remote highways in Alaska – a gravel road in partly poor conditions.
We were bouncing in our own School bus remodeling On this road while we were on our way from Paxson to Cantwell.
The highway opened in 1957 and was the first road to Denali National Park.
5. Vast wilderness: no cell phone, no cars, no tracks
One of the things Alaska is most famous for is its wilderness.
Out in the wilderness on our own, we had no cell reception, no roads, no Wi-Fi and no way to contact anyone if we were in trouble.
But this is what we came to Alaska for – to experience the wilderness and get out of our comfort zones.
If you plan to camp in Alaska, you will quickly learn how to enjoy the freedom and choose your own path.
Just be sure to look for…
6. Amazing encounters with wildlife
Alaska is known for its great diversity of wildlife. From grizzly bears to wolves to moose and elk in the forest, to humpback whales, seals and dolphins in the ocean.
It’s even home to America’s national bird, the bald eagle.
We were lucky enough to spot antlers during our visit, which shouldn’t be dangerous.
We leaned over and watched him look at us curiously, jumping back and forth to get a better field of view.
It is important to know that these are wild animals and can charge at any moment. If you want to see some animals in Alaska, it’s best to go with a knowledgeable or local guide.
7. A great place to stargaze
What’s better in life than sitting by a campfire, listening to the river, the birds and the wind while chatting with fellow travelers about your pioneering adventure?
Maybe it’s the fact that most of us decide to sleep outside and stare at the stars for a while before falling asleep.
Not only can you see the northern lights, but much of Alaska is plunged into darkness at night, making it an ideal location for stargazing.
8. Alaska Cruises
Alaska has miles of coastline to explore, which is why many visitors choose to visit by taking a tour Alaska cruise.
Cruises typically start from the south before venturing into the Inside Passage.
This way they can see some of Alaska’s most stunning scenery, from Glacier Bay National Park to Kenai Fjords National Park.
Cruises also take you to traditional Alaska Native villages, such as Sitka, which is home to the Tlingit people.
Another popular city to stop at on an Alaska cruise is Ketchikan where you can see amazing totem pole displays.
You might like this Alaska cruise With our favorite tour group operator, Globus. It’s a 17-day tour from Anchorage to Vancouver that includes Denali, the Kenai Fjords, and Glacier Bay National Park. Don’t forget to use the discount below when booking!
Globus discount just for you!
We got an exclusive discount on yTravelR: Save $100 per person On select holidays in 2023 and 2024 from Globus and Avalon Waterway. Use the code: YTRAVEL When booking online at Globus, UniverseAnd Avalon Waterways websites, by contacting Globus and Avalon Waterways directly, or booking with your preferred travel advisor. Terms and conditions.
9. Salmon fishing
Alaska is known for its world-class salmon fishing. With over 627 species inhabiting its waters, Alaska offers abundant opportunities to catch these prized fish.
Alaska salmon fishing is particularly popular due to the numerous salmon catches that occur throughout the year.
From May to November, anglers can target various species of salmon, including king salmon and silver salmon, as they migrate through rivers and streams.
Alaska is also known for its excellent trout fishing. Rainbow trout and arctic grayling are abundant in the state’s clear rivers and lakes.
Another popular fish in Alaska is the halibut, which is also abundant in Alaskan waters.
10. Whale watching
From the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean, Alaska is full of oceans full of marine life, including the largest sea animal – the whale.
Alaska is home to humpback whales, orcas, and beluga whales, to name a few, which are commonly sighted in the Inside Passage.
Sometimes you can see gray whales swimming off the coast of southeast Alaska on their way to their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea during the summer.
Here are some whale watching tours in Alaska that you might like:
11. Sled dogs
Alaska is famous for its dog sleds, which have been a popular means of transportation for hundreds of years due to Alaska’s terrain and unique geographic features.
Dog sledding, also known as mushing, is an integral part of Alaskan culture.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, often referred to as “The Last Great Race,” is one of the most popular dog sledding events in the world.
Covering more than 1,000 miles of treacherous Alaskan wilderness, this grueling race tests the endurance and skill of both riders and their dogs.
Tourists visiting Alaska can also participate in dog sledding, which is one of the most popular activities Alaska attractions. It is an exhilarating and authentic adventure that will leave lasting memories.
12. Glaciers and fjords
Glaciers and fjords are some of the most iconic sights in Alaska and are one of the main reasons people travel to this state.
Alaska glaciers, such as those in Kenai Fjords National Park and Kodiak Island, are huge rivers of ice flowing from vast ice fields.
These glaciers shaped the land, carving deep valleys and creating stunning fjords.
Alaska’s glaciers and fjords provide an opportunity to witness the raw power of nature and witness the stunning beauty of these glacial landscapes.
Don’t miss these Alaska glacier tours:
13. Trans-Alaska Pipeline
The Trans-Alaska Pineline is an 800-mile oil pipeline that runs from Valdez Harbor to Prudhoe Bay.
This oil transportation system extends almost the length of the country and is known as the largest pipeline system in the world.
14. Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike Gold Rush was from 1896 to 1899 when more than 100,000 gold prospectors came to the Yukon Territory of Alaska and Canada to mine the abundant gold reserves.
It started when a man named Skookum Jim found gold near the Klondike River.
Word spread and it became the largest gold rush in history, with more than $1 billion worth of gold estimated to have been found.
Today you can see remnants of the Gold Rush era at Skagway Gold Rush National Historical Park, an open-air museum showcasing what it was like during this monumental time.
15. Paranormal Encounters
In recent years, Alaska has become a place known for its strange supernatural encounters.
Whether it’s alien sightings or UFOs at Big Foot, Alaska has attracted many paranormal enthusiasts looking to uncover its secrets.
If you don’t believe me, just watch the Discovery Channel show, Aliens in Alaska!
Alaska is quite a unique state compared to other parts of North America. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.
From its distinctive scenery to its fascinating history, there’s no place quite as special as Alaska.
We hope this guide helps you understand what Alaska is famous for and gives you a new idea about this magical state!
Before you go, be sure to check out our guide Things to know before visiting Alaska For more tips for your trip!
Author Biography: Natalie Min Endless adventures She left Germany at the end of 2010, heading to West Africa. Feeling the freedom of the road, she applied for a job as a tour pilot and has been driving land trucks from Cairo to Cape Town and from Rio de Janeiro to Quito ever since. After repurposing an old school bus into the ultimate overland vehicle and starting her own adventure company with Dave (whom she met while traveling and working in Africa), Natalie is back on the road. This time to enjoy the beauty and wilderness of Alaska with like-minded people.