Alaska, at more than twice the size of Texas, is America’s last great frontier, where nature makes the rules, and man is left to follow them. Vast stretches of unspoiled terrain are waiting to be explored, along with snowcapped mountains, ice-enveloped fjords, active volcanoes, imposing glaciers, and quaint port towns.
Discovering all that this region has to offer starts onboard a cruise ship or plane, since 90 percent of the state is inaccessible by car or foot, including major cities such as Juneau and Anchorage.
The cruise ports offer a surprising amount of diversity: In Skagway, for example, the gold rush era is remarkably frozen in time in the colorfully painted buildings and old-time saloons. Juneau dazzles the masses with natural wonders like the Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord. And the “salmon capital of the world,” Ketchikan, keeps visitors busy fishing and hiking. One experience that’s not to be missed: a kayak tour. As you glide through the water, watch for spawning salmon jumping across your bow.
When in Alaska, expect to share the land with an abundance of diverse wildlife: Bald eagles, caribou, humpback whales, polar bears, and mountain goats are among some of the majestic creatures calling the Land of the Midnight Sun home.
Grizzly bears are especially notorious for wandering into backyards or campgrounds and helping themselves to salmon right off the grill. Their affinity toward food has also caused locals to use bear-proof trash cans made of metal and held shut with locks, ensuring the safety of both people and the hungry animals — just another distinctly Alaskan detail to appreciate.
Satisfying both outdoorsy adventure seekers and those craving a peaceful respite from everyday life, the breathtaking natural beauty of this region — experienced by land or sea — can be considered a milestone in even the most seasoned traveler’s log.