Written by Jenn Miller, blogger at WANDERblest.com
1. True wilderness — There are few places remaining in the U.S. where you can go out and be truly alone in nature, to step where possibly no one has ever stepped before. At 663,300 square miles, the Last Frontier boasts pristine mountains, tundra, valleys, lakes and rivers as far as the eye can see. Planes and four-wheeler ATVs are common modes of transportation for reaching some of the more off-the-beaten path destinations.
2. Aurora Borealis/the northern lights — Long dark days in winter are totally worth it if it means the chance to catch a spectacular display of electrons and protons bouncing off the earth’s atmosphere. The vivid greens, pinks and purples of the auroras can be seen on clear dark nights and are even better enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate—Alaska only stays dark long enough to spot these displays during the cooler winter months!
3. National Parks — If you are a national park enthusiast, Alaska is your one-stop-shop. Coming in 2nd place for most parks per state--California has 9, Alaska has 8--1st place goes to Alaska for largest park in the nation. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve takes up 13.2 MILLION acres, reaches from ocean to mountains, and contains some of the largest volcanos in North America. Denali National Park is well-known for showcasing the tallest mountain on the continent, and the well-known Katmai National Park houses viewing decks that allow you to observe *safely* as wild grizzlies feast on spawning salmon. How amazing is that?
4. Indigenous culture -- The Native Alaskans are a symbol of perseverance and survival in the often unforgiving climate and environment that makes up their ancestral home. For thousands of years, the various tribes have utilized the plentiful resources of Alaskan summers to make it through even the harshest winters. Their ingenuity and respect for the land comes through in their traditional dress and their handicrafts. Beautiful handmade jewelry, knives, or clothing are just some of the incredible souvenirs you could be taking home with you.
5. Incredible wildlife -- Caribou. Moose. Bears. Oh my! The land of the midnight sun is home to over a dozen large mammal species including black and brown bears, elk, bison, wolf, deer, sheep, goat, and whale. The bald eagle flourishes and can be seen throughout the state all year long. Migratory birds like trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes make their way up for the long sunny days of summer. The opportunity for wildlife sightings presents itself along roadways and within wilderness areas alike--it's not uncommon for a bear to find its way to the downtown area, walking right down the center of the road!
6. Recreational opportunities -- If you love biking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, four-wheeling, going to the beach, kayaking, or pretty much ANYTHING to do with being outside, Alaska is the perfect destination. With dozens of state-managed camping areas (as well as free overnight parking areas along major roadways), getting away from it all is easy as can be. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy bike trails, world class ski slopes, pristine kayaking conditions, and always with the most incredible scenery to go with it.
7. #vacationgoals -- Social media bombards us daily with photos of our friends living their best life--you deserve a vacay you will never forget! Alaska could be the serene escape to wilderness that you've been looking for; away from "the lower 48" and the chaos of everyday life. The landscape, the wildlife, the people--it's unlike anywhere else in the world... and its waiting for you!