The possibilities for fun and adventure in Alaska are endless. Below are some of the most popular tourist activities.
Get Up Close with Glaciers
Come see the truly ancient, enormous rivers of ice that sculpted Alaska's mountains and calving icebergs that hit the ocean with thunderous roars. How big are they? Often more than a mile wide and dozens of miles long. Alaska has so many glaciers that hundreds don't even have names.
– Glacier Day-cruise
– Simple glacier day hikes
– Kayaking in fjords
– Helicopter flightseeing
– View from the roadside
– Inside Passage/Gulf cruise
Take-Off for Flightseeing
Distinctively Alaskan, flightseeing by plane or helicopter is an ideal way to really feel the magnitude of Alaska. A variety of tours, excursions and charters are available, from 30-minute hops to full-day outings.
– Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the U.S.
– The Inside Passage for views of forests, islands, glaciers and whales
– Glacier-landing tours
– Tours of Denali from Talkeetna
Watch the Wildlife
If you want to see wildlife, Alaska is the place to visit. Bald eagles gather by the hundreds. Moose cause traffic jams. Wild Dall sheep skip along roadside cliffs. State and national wilderness lands blanket the map.
– Flightseeing trips that specialize in wildlife viewing by air
– Drive to or visit likely areas - especially wildlife refuges or national parks
– Guided wildlife tours by motorcoach or bus
– Guided tours that specialize in bear viewing, whale watching or bird watching
– Guaranteed viewing and self-guided tours
– Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
– Alaska SeaLife Center
– Anchorage Zoo
– Alaska Raptor Center
Get to Know Native Cultures
About 15 percent of Alaska's population is composed of distinct indigenous cultural groups, including Eskimo, Aleut, Indians and numerous subcultures. Alaska Natives are interested in sharing their cultural traditions with visitors. There are a number of venues that provide opportunities to interact with Native Alaskans, to learn about traditions, crafts, music and other cultural distinctions.
– Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage
– Take a guided tour to Utqiagvik (Barrow), site of the Inupiat Heritage Center
– Go to the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak
– Join a tour to Kotzebue, featuring the Museum of the Arctic and Culture Camp
– Tour the famous Totem exhibits in Ketchikan
Explore Russian America
By the time America bought the Alaska Territory (for about 2 cents an acre), Russians had been living here for over 120 years. Sitka was the capital of Russian-America and Alaska's first state capital. The Russians also had headquarters in Kodiak and outposts all along the coastline. The strength of Alaska's Russian heritage is still visible in the onion-shaped domes of Russian Orthodox churches that rise above many Alaskan towns.
– Visit museums with exhibits exploring Russia's role in the span of Alaskan history
– Join historical tours in towns and regions with strong Russian connections
– Walk among old Russian buildings, and learn about Russian and Native cultures at the Sitka National Historical Park
Visiting in winter will give you a distinctively Alaskan experience.
Activities that visitors often enjoy the most include:
– Watching the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
– Anchorage Fur Rendezvous
– Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships
– Viewing the Northern Lights
– Dog sledding
– World-class downhill skiing, heli-skiing and cross-country skiing
– Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race
Explore the Wilderness
You can experience true Alaska wilderness during the day - and sleep in a warm comfortable bed at night. Guided trips and tours take you to a variety of remote (and not-so-remote) places, where you can enjoy almost any outdoor interest, from kayaking and river rafting, to fly fishing and bear watching.
– Consider day excursions if you don't have a lot of outdoor experience
– Try a wilderness lodge for remote adventure, combined with luxury accommodations
– Fly-out to a remote fishing lodge for a uniquely Alaskan experience
Catch Gold Fever
The lure of gold touched almost every corner of Alaska. Juneau is named for the prospector who started Alaska's first big gold rush. The towns of Skagway, Haines and Dyea offered gateways to the Klondike. Nome's golden sands beckoned tens of thousands.
– Join a ranger-guided walking tour through the restored buildings of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway
– Pan for gold in Juneau, Fairbanks, Girdwood and Nome
– Take a day-trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to experience gold-rush era travel
– Pan for gold or find some of the 44 abandoned gold dredges in Nome
Back to travel tips
– Reserve a Forest Service cabin and camp for the weekend
– Plan a personalized outdoor adventure with the Alaska Public Lands Information Center
– Drive the highways of the state, including several scenic byways, for the ultimate road trip
– Take the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry from port to port
– Explore the National and State Parks located throughout the state
– Be on the lookout for wildlife, including eagles, moose, whales, bears, Dall Sheep, caribou, lynx, musk oxen and mountain goats