Alaska, the “Last Frontier” of the United States, is dominated by dramatic mountains, striking glaciers, and vast expanses of wilderness. Containing a whopping 17 National Parks, Alaska is home to over half of the United States’ National Parklands and hundreds of millions of acres of untouched wilderness. Remote as Alaska is, parts of the state are easily accessible via plane or cruise ship, making it the perfect destination for anyone with a love of nature and sense of adventure.
Passengers who wish to see Alaska by means of a scenic and relaxing cruise will most likely be travelling the Inside Passage, a ship route through the islands of Alaska’s Southeasternmost coast. These cruise itineraries can easily be a week or more in length, including the state capitol of Juneau and the iconic Glacier Bay National Park.
For travelers who wish to explore Alaska by land, or a combination of land and sea, a major airport and proximity to many of Alaska’s gems within the Kenai Peninsula make the city of Anchorage the perfect base. From here, renting a car or hiring a private guide and driver are the easiest way to get around, although the Alaska Railroad also connects to some destinations and is certainly worth experiencing. Some excursions to less accessible areas will also require a scenic flight or boat trip, such as a bear tracking adventure or a visit to Katmai National Park across Cook Inlet. A trip to this region of Alaska would not be complete without a visit to the bustling town of Seward, from where you can enjoy any number of adventures, such as a must-do cruise of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Here you will have the opportunity for amazing wildlife viewing as you glide past towering ice formations and the Kenai Peninsula’s dramatic coast.
Further to the North lies Alaska’s Interior, the immense central region of the state and home to the city of Fairbanks as well as the iconic Denali National Park. Only the first few miles of this wilderness are accessible by private vehicle, so leave your car (or driver) behind at the park entrance and board the shuttle or adventure bus into the heart of the park. This can be as short as a day trip, but for a more immersive experience stay a few days at one of the lodges in Denali’s backcountry. Flightseeing tours also provide a different point of view to witness this incredible destination.
Longer trips might also accommodate visits to additional National Parks such as Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark, and even Gates of the Arctic. Even covering all this ground, we have only explored a tiny fraction of what Alaska has to offer!