Your holiday in Alaska feels like a constant encounter with Mother Nature in its purest form. This small and special piece of America borders Canada to the east and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The water in Alaska is teeming with life. You will find salmon, sea otters, whales and killer whales. On land live the largest bears and elk in the world. These can just appear on your path during your Alaska trip.
When a place is as big as Alaska, it is useful to divide it into parts or regions. Alaska is often divided into six regions: Arctic, Interior, Western, Southwestern, Southcentral, and Southeast.
Arctic Alaska spans the northern edge of the state. It stretches from the Canadian border on the east to the Chukchi Sea to the west. The Brooks Range forms the southern border. The Arctic Ocean marks the region’s northern edge. Very few people live in this area. Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States, and Kotzebue, located on Norton Sound, are the largest towns.
The land north of the Brooks Range is flat and treeless tundra with many rivers. Huge herds of caribou travel across the area. In the spring, the caribou come here to have their babies. They take refuge from the millions, if not billions, of mosquitoes in the breezes off the arctic coast. This is also the area where millions of birds come to nest and feed on those same mosquitoes. Whales, polar bear, and bearded seals live offshore.
The Arctic is a cold and dark place during the deep of winter. In Barrow the sun sets on November 18 and does not rise again until January 24, so it is dark all the time. The opposite is true in the summer. On May 10 the sun rises but does not set again until August 2. You could say this is both the darkest and lightest of all the regions in Alaska.
Interior Alaska is the land between the Brooks Range to the north and the Alaska Range to the South. From the border with Canada, this huge region stretches west about two-thirds across the state. The Arctic Circle cuts across the region. This imaginary line marks the latitude above which the sun does not rise on December 21, winter solstice. On the summer solstice, June 21, the sun does not set.
Fairbanks is the largest community in the region and is known as the Golden Heart city. It sits nearly right in the middle of this large area. Between the mountain ranges, the land is filled with rivers, rolling hills, wet and dry tundra, and forests of skinny birch, spruce, aspen and alder. Bears, moose, wolves, caribou roam the area. The mighty Yukon River flows southwest through the region and provides salmon and other fish for the Athabaskan Indians who call the area home.
Western Alaska extends from the Arctic Circle south to Bristol Bay. The Bering Sea forms the western border. Only a few local roads are found here. To visit this region you must arrive by plane or boat. In the winter you can also travel the region on snow machine or by dog team when the ground and the rivers are frozen.
Nome, Dillingham, and Bethel are the largest towns in this region. Small villages are spread all over the area. Most of these villages are along the southern part of the Yukon River and next to the coast. Fishing for salmon is the main activity here. Yupik Eskimos of the region have depended on salmon for food for hundreds of years. The area is another important place for migrating birds, so important that the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge was created to help protect them.
Southwestern Alaska includes the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands. This region runs nearly 1,500 miles in an arc that separates the Bering Sea from the Northern Pacific. The land sits on top of The Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is an area of volcanoes that encircle the Pacific Rim. The temperatures in this area are mild compared to the arctic. But the storms that blow through are some of the worst in the world. The area is home to lots of wildlife, including some of the largest brown bears. Other animals include walrus, otters, and fur seals. Seabirds flock to the region to nest during the summers. The rivers and lakes are filled with salmon and other fish.
Aleuts were the first humans to live in this harsh land with plentiful wildlife. The Russians came in the 18th century to hunt seals and otters for their fur. Kodiak was the first capital of Russian America, as they called Alaska. During World War II, the Japanese invaded Attu and Kiska Islands in the Aleutians. The world-class fishing brings lots of people to the region now. If you have ever watched “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, you’ve seen the commercial fishing folks at work. Many people fly in to the lakes and streams of the area to catch trophy-sized salmon and trout.
Southcentral Alaska is bounded by the Gulf of Alaska to the South and the Alaska Range to the north. The Chugach Mountains mark the eastern border. The Aleutian Range forms the western border.
Southcentral is home to more than two-thirds of all the people in Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city, is in this region. There also are lots of animals in this region. These include brown bears, wolves, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, mountain goats, lynx, beavers, fox, and hundreds of species of birds.
You’ll find more variety in land and climate here than any other part of Alaska. Thanks to the warming effects of the ocean, most of the weather is milder than the Interior and Arctic. Still, some inland areas can be among the coldest in the state. You can climb mountains, hike in broad valleys, and sea kayak in the protected waters of Prince William Sound and Kachemak Bay. Rivers offer some of the biggest runs of salmon found anywhere in the state. Athabaskan Indians, Yupik Eskimos, Aleuts all called this region home.
Southeast Alaska is the region that looks like it should be in Canada. It is often called Alaska’s Panhandle. You can see that if you think of the rest of Alaska as a pan and the long and narrow Southeast Alaska region as the handle. It runs 500 miles along the northern Inside Passage. This waterway snakes through a maze of islands offshore from the mainland of Southeast Alaska. These islands are also part of Southeast Alaska. The Coastal Mountains, some of the highest peaks in the state, form the border between Southeast Alaska and Canada.
These mountains are one of the reasons this area is one of the wettest on earth. The warm, wet air blows in off the Pacific Ocean. This heavy air bumps into the mountains and is forced up and over them. As the air rises, it cools. Then the heavy clouds build up with moisture until they can’t hold any more and rain pours down. This near constant rain over thousands of years created the rainforest that now forms the Tongass National Forest. It can rain up to 200 inches in just one year.
The forest provides a great place for deer. Mountain goats roam the mountains and whales and porpoises swim along the protected waters. Salmon are plentiful. This rich region was a great spot for the early residents. Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Indians live here.
Juneau, Alaska’s State Capital, is located in Southeast and is the area’s largest city. Many towns in Southeast began as centers for logging and fishing. Tourism is a big business in Southeast today.
Round Trip Alaska
Traveling through Alaska is possible in many ways. Whichever way you choose, we guarantee that Alaska will hit you and can certainly be added to your most beautiful travel memories. You can combine a roundtrip Alaska with Yukon, Canada and even Iceland.
You travel to Alaska for nature. The many national parks are an attraction in themselves. Due to the diversity of national parks, it is a pleasure to visit as much as possible, such as
Denali National Park
Denali National Park does not really need an introduction. Alaska’s most famous national park annually receives more than half a million visitors from all over the world, who come here for wildlife and exuberant nature.
The expansive taiga and tundra is full of animals and the snow-covered peaks of the Alaska Range are a must-see for everyone during their trip. Denali National Park is more than 2.4 million hectares and opens its gates from late May to mid-September for visitors. The rest of the year the park is limited accessible, in order to let nature and wildlife go as far as possible.
The literal highlight of the park is Mount Denali, with 6,194 meters the highest mountain in North America. The mountain is surrounded by several other snow-covered peaks of the Alaska Range and by extensive tundra and taiga. It is a special place and loved by travelers from all over the world.
Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park is known for the many bears that live there. With a 2,000 copies this is the most densely populated bear area in Alaska. Hallo Bay and Brooks Falls are the best known places. The impressive backdrop for this is formed by active volcanoes, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and snow-covered peaks.
Katmai National Park and Preserve is located 290 miles southeast of Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage. The park can only be reached by plane or by boat, so the number of visitors is limited. Katmai covers more than 19,000 square kilometers and is practically uninhabited. King Salmon is the gateway on the western side and here is also the headquarters of the park. Most people will only visit Katmai on the southeast coast during a bear excursion to places like Hallo Bay and Swikshak Bay, where chances are greatest to spot bears. In this area there are no roads, shops or other people, it consists of pure wilderness with immense volcanoes and splashing waterfalls in the background.
Prince William Sound
The Prince William Sound has more than 3,000 miles of coastline and is surrounded by the Chugach Mountains to the north, east and west.
The 50-mile-long Montague Island together with various other islands forms a natural separation between the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound. In total, around 10,000 people live on the sound, especially in Valdez, Cordova and Whittier. There are also two Native villages along the coast, namely Tatilek and Chenega. There are more than 20 glaciers in the sound, of which the Columbia Glacier, Meares Glacier and Shoup Glacier are the best known.
Places to Stay in Alaska
From rustic Cabins and Lodges to warm Bed & Breakfasts and even Hotels, let us share Alaska’s Hospitality…
Whether your Alaska adventure budget allows for a luxury hotel or budget-friendly hotel, motel or inn, overnight accommodations in Alaska offer something for everyone. Stay at a renowned, four-star resort, or an inn off the beaten path; either way you are sure to enjoy your nights in the Last Frontier.
Hotels & Motels
Hotels in Alaska are like that of any other in the United States: convenience is key. Amenities like transportation, restaurants, health spas,business centers and swimming pools can be found at many of the largerestablishments, while the smaller motels and inns offer many of the same withlocal twists you won’t find anywhere else.
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Campgrounds and RV parks offer lodging in the heart of the Alaska wilderness
without the sacrifice of modern amenities like restroom facilities and running
water. Numerous options are available around the state, including both
privately and publicly owned camping areas. Pitch your tent at the base of a
mountain or next to a pristine lake, or just pull off on the way to a favorite
fishing spot. The stunning scenery in Alaska makes campgrounds and RV parks an
attractive option for tourists and locals alike, not to mention affordability.
When staying at one of the well-managed campgrounds or RV parks in Alaska, you
don’t need to travel far to go hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, or
canoeing. In fact, the opportunity for an Alaska adventure will quite literally
be in your backyard!
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Need a tent and other camping equipment? Reach out to AlaskaOutdoor Gear Outfitter & Rentals! They’ll hook you up with completerental packages for car camping, backpacking, or even accessories to put inyour RV.
Bed & Breakfasts
Some of Alaska’s most comfortable and affordable accommodations are bed & breakfasts. B&Bs offer lodging tailored to your Alaska adventure needs. Whether you are looking for a secluded getaway in a rustic lodge or a bed & breakfast located conveniently in the heart of town, the experience of staying with Alaskans in their homes and cabins will be a highlight of your trip.
Not only is there a bed & breakfast for every taste, they are an
economical choice for lodging. In fact, the opportunity to tap the local
knowledge of B&B owners is practically priceless. B&B owners are very
receptive to travelers and shower guests with Alaska hospitality. Your bed
& breakfast hosts will provide information about the area as only a local
Alaskan could. No brochure will give you the same caliber of travel advice
about things like restaurants, fishing, hiking, skiing, wildlife viewing,
directions and tour options as your Alaskan host.
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Wilderness lodges & Resorts
Wilderness lodges and resorts in Alaska offer secluded, all-inclusive luxury in the midst of the beautiful Alaska landscape, with access to the best sportfishing, national park tours, glacier viewing, kayaking and hiking imaginable. Most lodges or resorts include adventure packages, wildlife tours, and fishing packages, while the accommodations include all the sophistication expected of a high-end resort or lodge. For visitors looking for the ideal balance between luxury and adventure in Alaska, wilderness lodges and resorts are a perfect fit.
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Cabins and Vacation Homes
Cabins and vacation rentals in Alaska range from the historically rustic to upscale and modern. Modern-style cabins include full facilities and amenities including kitchens and even saunas. Public use cabins are an inexpensive and convenient option when staying in Alaska parks and national forests; simply visit www.recreation.gov to check availability. While these public facilities are often more rustic (most don’t have running water), they are extremely inexpensive and offer wilderness solitude most vacationers never experience. Whether you opt for the comforts of a luxury cabin or the authentic experience of one of the many more rustic options, all offer a setting of natural beauty and opportunity for outdoor adventure in Alaska.
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Hostels are an inexpensive and reliable option for travelers on a budget, and there are dozens throughout Alaska. The dormitory-style lodging is a safe and less expensive way to experience Alaska while still enjoying the quirky, communal spirit hostels offer.
Choosing to overnight at a hostel affords travelers the opportunity to interact with fellow travelers in Alaska, as well as knowledgeable locals who can offer advice on the best restaurants and local attractions, and give insider information you can’t find anywhere else.
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A cruise in Alaska is a unique opportunity to dine, relax and take in awe-inspiring fjords of the Inside Passage, where mountains rise from the ocean and majestic inlets are only visible from the sea.
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