There are few places on Earth that compare to the wild beauty of Alaska. Twice the size of Texas, this rugged frontier offers a seemly endless landscape of majestic snow-capped mountains and stunning ice-blue glaciers, as well as an abundance of wildlife that will rouse your inner Jack London. For those willing to make the trip to this awe-inspiring region, the rewards are immeasurable.
From our experience, the best way to see the Last Frontier is through a combination land-and-sea tour with one of the many cruise lines that ply the region during the summer months. Cruises typically sail along the Inside Passage, stopping in port cities such as Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Many offer land-based excursions tacked on to the beginning or end of the journey, giving you the chance to venture inland to remote locales such as Fairbanks and Denali National Park. However you visit Alaska, here are some of our favorite adventures that await.
Hike Across An Ice Field
The 8.2-mile Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike that starts on the valley floor, winds through forests and heather-filled meadows and then climbs above the tree line to a breathtaking view of the ice field. Want company? Ranger-led hikes often occur during the summer and depart from the Exit Glacier Nature Center.
Take A Wildlife Safari
Caribou, moose, wolves, Dall sheep and bears...oh my! Denali National Park is a sprawling, sixmillion-acre park and one of the only places in the world where you can spot such a diversity of wildlife in their natural habitat. There is only one road through Denali, and private cars aren’t allowed on most of it, so organized bus tours are the only way to visit. You can choose a narrated tour or a bus that allows passengers to hop on and off for hikes along the way.
See The Northern Lights
From mid-September to mid-April, the Northern Lights put on a radiant spectacle that is a true wonder to behold. At Fairbanks, which typically has clear skies, chances of seeing the aurora are high; but just in case clouds creep in, you can still enjoy dog sledding, soaking in hot springs and visiting with reindeer, to name a few activities.