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Scenic Byways

People tend to hold a few misperceptions when it comes to Alaska: the first is adding penguins to the list of resident wildlife, and second is thinking that Alaska is all ice and glaciers. It’s true, Alaska has a total of about 28,800 square miles of ice fields, but that figure only represents 4 percent of the state’s entire area. When spring takes hold each year, Alaska turns a million shades of green, studded by sparkling aqua-colored lakes, snow-capped mountains, gushing waterfalls, spruce forests, alpine meadows and colorful tundra, not to mention the many shades of red, orange, yellow and purple the leaves take on in the late summer and early fall months. All these and more are there for visitors to admire right outside their car or RV window, driving along federal- or state-designated scenic byways.

The Seward Highway showcases the wonders of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska from the moment you leave Anchorage and drive along Turnagain Arm until you reach its end in Seward 127 miles later. This world-renowned route was designated a scenic byway by three different entities: the USDA Forest Service, the State of Alaska, and the National Scenic Byway Program, which gave it the highest designation available – All-American Road. It is the only highway in the state with this triple designation. The Alaska Marine Highway, 3,500 miles of enchanting coastal routes, is the other byway that was recognized with the national All-American Road designation for its beauty and was the first marine route to join the national program’s portfolio. It is also a very convenient way to visit the state, with its 11 vessels and 35 ports in coastal communities across the southern half of the state.

The other highways with two scenic byway designations – national and state – are the George Parks Highway, the Glenn Highway and the Haines Highway. To learn more about Alaska’s highway designations, visit http://byways.org/explore/states/AK.

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