Sights & Attractions in The Bush

The Bush Sights

Philosophically speaking, the Bush is more a lifestyle than a location. It brings a new definition to "roughing it"; after you experience the Bush, you come to understand that the term "rural" only applies in the Lower 48, where there's typically an urban hub nearby to bail you out. But if a village or town store in the Bush runs out of something, it won't be in stock again until the next delivery—whether

it be by boat or by plane—which can take anywhere from a week to a month, maybe even not until the next spring after the ice thaws! People who live in the boonies know transportation schedules like the backs of their hands, and they know that if they don't show up at the store within hours of the supply boat or plane's arrival, the odds of getting any fresh milk or vegetables are about zero.

Technically, the Bush is more or less any place in mainland Alaska that can't be reached by road. To outsiders the Bush represents three distinct destinations: The southwestern part of the Bush, the Yukon Delta region and Bethel down to the Shelikof Strait, is the preferred territory for sportsmen and those looking to spot big animals. The Aleutian and Pribilof islands and the Alaska Peninsula attract birders and history buffs. And the northern part of the Bush, from Nome to Point Barrow, is for those who see north as a direction to go. A lot of people may say they're traveling to the far north for the Native culture, for a chance to see the beauty of tundra, but really, most of them are doing it for bragging rights.

Of course, just going to Alaska is cause enough to boast, and each region has its own distinct draw. Kodiak and Katmai are great for grizzly viewing and birding. Nome is not only the best place for gold-rush history, but is also known for its large and small wildlife as well as bird-watching in summer. No matter where you go, that distinct Alaskan culture—created by the simple fact that the only people who live here are people who genuinely want to live here—is abundant, distinct, and welcoming.

A tour of the Bush's southwestern region can begin in Bethel, an important outpost on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and surrounded by the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge; off the mainland coast is the undeveloped wilderness of Nunivak Island.

The Alaska Peninsula juts out between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea; here are the Becharof and Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife refuges, as well as the prime bear-viewing area of Katmai National Park and Preserve. To the northeast of the Alaska Peninsula is the Kodiak Archipelago, where you'll find Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and Shuyak Island State Park.

The Aleutian Islands start where the peninsula ends, and sweep southwest toward Japan. The Pribilof Islands—windswept, grassy, with whale bones scattered on the beaches—lie north of the Aleutians, 200 miles off Alaska's west coast. Head north along the Bering Sea coast and you come to Nome, just below the Arctic Circle and the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Kotzebue, just above the circle, is a coastal Inupiaq town surrounded by sea and tundra and a jumping-off place for several parklands: Kobuk Valley, Noatak, Cape Krusenstern, and Gates of the Arctic (though the last is more easily reached from the inland village of Bettles). Barrow, another Inupiaq community, sits at the very top of the state, and is the northernmost town in the United States. Follow the Arctic coastline eastward and you reach Deadhorse, on Prudhoe Bay, the custodian to the region's important oil and gas reserves. East of Prudhoe Bay is the embattled Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the nation's last great chance to truly show that wilderness matters.

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The Bush Sights

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