One of the most popular states to travel to in the country in recent years has been Alaska thanks to its amazing combination of rugged, uncharted wilderness and natural beauty. Becoming the forty-ninth addition to the United States in 1959, Alaska is the largest of the states with over six hundred thousand square miles for visitors to explore. While much of the state is home to difficult terrain and natural features, there are still plenty of amazing locations to enjoy that share both the history and natural wonder of the area. From popular National Parks to local wildlife and natural beauty, there are some locations in Alaska that travelers simply must visit on any trip. Here are seven wonders in Alaska to experience on any vacation in 2019.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
The Southeast area of Alaska is home to a popular National Park that truly highlights the natural wonders and beauty of the state. Glacier Bay National Park spans over three million acres and was first declared a national monument by Calvin Coolidge in 1925 before being established as a National Park in 1980. Due to its position, many of the visitors who experience the beauty of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve do so from cruise ships which glide through the area, however, there are plenty of amazing locations and activities to enjoy on land as well. Visitors to the National Park can engage in a variety of experiences including hiking, camping, rafting, and much more and some amazing wildlife including bears, mountain goats, and wolves can be found throughout the area. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is also home to over one thousand glaciers, however the most popular to experience are the seven tidewater glaciers including the Johns Hopkins Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Those who travel to the northwest territory of Alaska can enjoy a beautiful refuge where some of the most remote and breathtaking animal species can be found amongst the wild beauty of the state. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s history began when President Theodore Roosevelt founded the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1903 to protect areas of wildlife and wetlands throughout the country. The location was re-designated under its current name in 1980 and continues to work tirelessly to protect the species and natural environments that exist in the area. With no roads or trails, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge allows visitors to truly step into the wild and enjoy hiking, fishing, birding, photography, hunting and more while looking for species such as wolves, polar bears, brown bears, black bears, moose, caribou, and more.
Denali National Park
Another one of the most popular destinations in Alaska to visit can be found in the central part of the state and is larger than all of New Hampshire. Denali National Park was officially established by Congress in 1917 and is home to nearly five million acres of stunning natural beauty and wilderness. With only one road running through the park, visitors can explore and experience different environments that range from a low-elevation forest to the tallest peak in North America. With limited human development, most visitors to Denali stick to the areas directly off the one road, but such areas include wonderful activities such as hiking, camping, and mountaineering. A highlight of Denali National Park is the peak of Denali which was previously known as Mount McKinley. The trek to the summit of the peak is an intense one, but those who make it are treated to some of the most stunning views of Alaska’s natural wilderness.
No visit to Alaska is complete without witnessing one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. Thanks to Alaska’s location in the upper region of the northern hemisphere, the state is home to some of the best viewing locations for the Northern Lights in the world. Impacted by weather conditions and more, the Northern Lights can sometimes be difficult to see however Alaska provides a wonderful viewing location thanks to its mostly undeveloped territory with minimal light pollution. Those who travel to Alaska and hope to see the Northern Lights should consider visiting in the proper season and research the best specific locations and times to enjoy the clearest demonstration of these beautiful solar flares.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Seward, Alaska is a coastal town located in the southern central region of the state which is situated near one of the most beautiful and popular National Parks found in the area. Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 and was appropriately named after the many different fjords which were carved by the nearly forty glaciers found in the vicinity. Spanning only seven hundred thousand acres, this National Park is vastly smaller than others found in Alaska, however, it is home to some of the most stunning natural beauty that should not be missed. Visitors who spend time in Kenai Fjords National Park can take in the beauty of the area through hiking, camping, kayaking, boat tours, and much more especially in the peak months of June through August.
While Alaska is filled with beautiful natural elements, one of the most popular sites that visitors want to explore are glaciers. The southeast area of Alaska is home to the town of Juneau as well as a beautiful glacier that is waiting to be explored. The Mendenhall Glacier is situated in the Mendenhall Valley which spans nearly twelve miles and is considered to be a part of the Tongass National Forest. In addition to enjoying the beautiful glacier, visitors can also stop by the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center which features exhibits that discuss the local wildlife and environment as well as the history of the glacier and how it has retreated over time due to melting. This stunning glacier and beautiful views of Mendenhall Lake are worth the visit to this area of Alaska!
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
In addition to amazing geographical beauty and wildlife, Alaska is also home to a long history of gold which is celebrated at a location in the town of Skagway. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park began its history with the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s when an influx of individuals searching for their fortunes came to the area. The park itself is divided into four units, three of which are found in Alaska and one which is found in Seattle, Washington, and the most popular area for visitors to explore is the Skagway Historic District. Their visitors can walk through the downtown area and enjoy attractions such as the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway Depot, The Martin Itjen House, the Lynch and Kennedy Dry Goods Store, and The Peniel Mission.