Top Attractions in Alaska

Katmai National Park

When people come to Alaska they want to see bears, yet most visitors never get a glimpse (bears prefer their privacy). However, at Katmai National Park, which boasts the world's largest brown bear population, you're almost guaranteed a photograph of bears doing bear things. Just remember, their teeth and claws are mighty sharp.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

There are more than 200 Native tribal entities in Alaska. At the Heritage Center, experience the lifestyles and traditions of these Native cultures through art and artifact displays and activities like blanket tossing, parka sewing, and drumming.

Denali

There are a dozen places between Anchorage and Fairbanks that boast the best viewing of Denali. At 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America, and most places within 100 miles can be good viewing areas. It is so large it creates its own weather patterns, and when the skies are otherwise clear, the mountain may be completely obscured. Try not to be too disappointed if you don't see it (the best time is during the winter), just know you've been in the company of greatness.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the state. It is a spectacular region that can be experienced by bus trip, hiking, rafting, or flightseeing tours. The first 15 miles of the park road are paved and open to private vehicles, but after that visitors must ride on a bus or get off and see Denali on foot. No matter which adventure you choose, Denali is truly a wonderful experience.

The Aurora Borealis

The most popular attraction in the winter doesn't charge admission or have set viewing times. The northern lights seem to appear without rhyme or reason. There is a science to it, but explanations are still hotly debated by meteorologists, astronomers, and pretty-color enthusiasts. Northern lights sightings are mostly in the fall and winter months, and are best when there is no nearby city light, and very little moonlight. Chena Hot Springs outside Fairbanks keep the hopeful warm while they watch the skies.

Mendenhall Glacier

Alaska's capital, Juneau, is surrounded by ice and water and can be reached only by boat or plane. The best way to appreciate this is to fly over the ice fields just outside the city and visit the Mendenhall Glacier. This gargantuan glacier is right outside the city in plain view. It's 12 miles long—nearly the same distance as what lies between it and downtown Juneau.

The Inside Passage

If you don't arrive in Alaska by cruise ship, make a point of taking a ferry trip along the longest, deepest fjord in North America. Depending on which ferry you take, the trip from Juneau to Skagway can be two or six hours long. In summer the tall peaks surrounding the boats release hundreds of waterfalls from snow and glacial melt. You might see pods of orcas, humpbacks, and dolphins.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Just outside Seward, this park covers a little more than 1,000 square miles. The crown of the Kenai Fjords is the Harding Icefield, from which at least 38 glaciers flow. A day cruise in the summer can offer stunning views of the largest of the glaciers as well as an abundant amount of marine life and waterfowl.

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