The Last Frontier of Unspoiled Beauty

Visit the 49th state for an awe-inspiring look at nature

As the least densely populated state in the union, Alaska has plenty of unspoiled landscapes with breathtaking views. There is no limitation to the beauty of this remote state. You will want to get out to the Last Frontier to see these amazing places on your next adventure. Here are a few awe-inspiring places to see in Alaska.

Denali National Park / Melissa Kopka / Bigstock

Denali National Park

Denali National Park always tops the list for many visitors to the state, and it is a wonderland for nature lovers. North America’s tallest peak, also named Denali and the former Mount McKinley, jets up 20,237 feet above sea level. With its massive height, you might not be able to get a great view as most of the summit is covered by clouds. The weather in the region is extreme with winds reaching over 150 mph and temperatures dipping below 95 degrees below zero (in the winter). However, you are not likely to experience these extremes from the valley of the mountain.

Denali National Park in Alaska / andykazie / Bigstock

For the most part, visitors travel to this park for the abundant wildlife. You can see a wide variety of native animals from moose, caribou, grizzly bears, and Dall sheep as they live among the glaciers and spruce forests. If you are planning a trip, the summer season is the most recommended time to go. The mountain valleys are alive with colors from the various mosses and flowers that blanket the area, including the state flower, the forget-me-not.

Matanuska Glacier / Paxson Woelber / Flickr

Matanuska Glacier

Glacier viewing is the quintessential experience in Alaska. This state is home to most of the glaciers in the United States. If you want to see the biggest glacier, you will need to head over to Matanuska Glacier. This valley glacier is 27 miles long by 4 miles wide, and it is the largest glacier that is accessible by car. You will have to travel about 100 miles from Anchorage to see this magnificent sight near Matanuska Glacier State Recreational Site. While you cannot directly reach the glacier from this recreational area, many visitors stop here to hit the trail near the Matanuska River, which runs parallel to the glacier.

Matanuska Glacier / Dave Bezaire / Flickr

If you are less adventurous and just want to see the breathtaking view, there is a pavilion with benches to watch and appreciate this natural wonder. At milepost 102, you can pay an entrance fee to a privately-owned park (Matanuska Glacier Park) that allows you to drive a vehicle up to the glacier. It is a fifteen-minute hike across the valley to access the area and see the crevassed blue ice of this valley glacier. 

Kodiak Island in Alaska / Guy J. Sagi / Bigstock

Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island rests off the south coast of Alaska, and it is the second-largest island in the United States. This island is known for this mountainous forest terrain in the north with treeless landscapes to the south. Many boaters choose to moor here due to the ice-free bay along the island. You can only access this wilderness by boat or seaplane. Most of the island is part of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Afognak Island, a remote part of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge / Lisa Hupp / Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr

Visitors to the region travel to the Emerald Island for its blooming meadows and striking coastlines. Kodiak has a mild climate during the summer, which leads to a diverse variety of flora and fauna. This island is the only place in the world to find a Sitka Spruce forest. If that didn’t make this island unique enough, native Kodiak bears roam around the area. If you are looking for splendid green fields and blue ocean visits, make a stop at Kodiak Island.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve / National Park Service / Flickr

Wrangell St. Elias National Park

If you thought Denali National Park is massive, you haven’t seen anything yet. Wrangell St. Elias National Park is one of the largest protected wilderness in the world and the largest national park in the United States. With over 13,175,799 acres, you could fit about six Yellowstone National Parks in this space.

Icy Bay & Mt. St. Elias / photo by Neal Herbert / National Park Service, Alaska Region / Flickr

The park includes most of the Saint Elias Mountain range, and it contains 8 out of the 16 tallest peaks in North America. You can access this park by a highway from Anchorage, but if you want to travel deep into the park, you will need to take several gravel roads. Backcountry camping and hiking are the most popular ways to explore this remote region. With the snow-capped mountain peaks and herds of grazing Dall sheep, you will genuinely feel amazed at this wilderness wonderland. While you are there, head out to the Malaspina Glacier and the surrounding ice fields. This area is so massive that it is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. 

Katmai National Park, Brooks Falls / NPS photo by Terry Ott / Flickr

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Salmon and brown bears are the unofficial symbols of Alaska. You can see both of these creatures at Katmai National Park and Preserve located in southern Alaska. Katmai is home to the largest protected population of brown bears. The park is well-known for the brown bears that set up camp near Brooks Falls to grab some salmon. These bears line up for a chance to catch the spawning salmon and dine on the fish. There are plenty of lookout platforms for visitors to get an up-close look at the bears.

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai National Park / Christoph Strässler / Flickr

The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is another unique area to visit. At this spot in 1912, an active volcano vent reformed the landscape with ash and lava, and it ranks as one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the United States. You can still see evidence of the eruption in the Ukak River valley as the hardened ash field melted into the water streams. While there is no threat of another volcanic eruption, you can still visit the area to see the contrast from the snowy mountain peaks to the volcanic plain. If you are planning to go, remember that you can only access the primary location at King Salmon via a plane or a ferry. 

Alaska is a nature lovers wonderland, and it continues to amaze visitors from all over the world looking for a piece of unspoiled America. With so much to take in, you will have plenty of breathtaking experiences in the Last Frontier.

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