The Great Unknown: 4 Reasons To Explore Alaska

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: January 19, 2023

As the country’s largest state, Alaska offers visitors plenty to do, especially if you love nature and spending time outside. So, what makes Alaska worth visiting?

Alaska is worth visiting because it has eight national parks, the second most of any state. There is also plenty of wildlife and the chance to see the northern lights and experience the midnight sun.  

This article details the top four reasons Alaska is worth visiting. Let’s get started! 

4 Reasons Why Alaska Is Worth Visiting

In the introduction, I mentioned four reasons Alaska is worth visiting. This section will discuss these reasons in more detail: 

1. It Has Eight National Parks

If you love exploring an area’s natural beauty, Alaska has a lot to offer you with its eight national parks. Each park has something different to offer and has its own unique landscape. 

Here are Alaska’s eight national parks and what you can expect to find in them:

  • Denali National Park: Denali National Park is home to Denali Peak, the highest point in North America, at 20,310 feet (6,190.49 m) above sea level. The park is also home to many animals, including grizzly bears, caribou, and moose.
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park: This park is one of the most uninhabited areas in the world and is the USA’s northernmost national park. It has no roads or trails, which helps the wildlife thrive. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that people live in the park, and you also can visit it. 
  • Glacier Bay National Park: Glacier Bay is vast and covers 3.3 million acres (1.3 million hectares) of mountains, glaciers, and rainforests. It is also part of a 25 million-acre (1 million hectares) World Heritage Site. 
  • Katmai National Park: This park is home to many bears and salmon, and one of the reasons that the national park was established was to protect them. The land was negatively affected by volcanic eruptions, and the park helps the wildlife thrive. 
  • Kenai Fjords National Park: Kenai features several glaciers that float in the park’s lakes but are sadly shrinking due to climate change. Highlights of this special park include boat trips around the fjords and spotting wildlife, such as moose and bears. 
  • Kobuk Valley National Park: The Kobuk Valley is unique because it has many interesting sand dunes and caribou that migrate through them. People have lived in the region for more than 9,000 years, but there are still no roads in the park or leading to it. Visiting is challenging, and most people charter a flight into the park.  
  • Lake Clark National Park: This park is a treat for wildlife enthusiasts because it has grizzly bears, foxes, Dall sheep, and moose. The bears survive on the salmon in the rivers and lakes, which also host pike and trout, and there are also volcanoes and mountains in the park that you will spot during your visit. 
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park: This is the largest national park in the United States, with 13.2 million acres (5.3 million hectares) of land. Most of it is wilderness, although some people live inside the park. It is also a national park with two extremes: sea-level land and mountains towering up to 18,008 feet (5,488.84 m). 

2. You Can See the Northern Lights

The northern lights are closer than you think, and you don’t have to travel to Iceland or Finland to see them. Alaska offers you plenty of opportunities to enjoy them. 

Also known as the aurora borealis, the northern lights occur when the sky lights up in blue, green, and purple. The phenomenon occurs when the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field interact.

It’s possible to see the northern lights year-round in Alaska, but fall and winter offer the best viewing options because it is darker and the sun tilts at just the right angle.  

The further north you go in Alaska, the better your chance of seeing them. This is why Fairbanks (one of the state’s most populated and northernmost cities) is an excellent location. Here, you can see the northern lights on your own or take a guided tour. 

If you happen to be visiting one of Alaska’s northerly-situated national parks, you also have an excellent chance of seeing them. 

Seeing the northern lights is well worth the effort, as there is no appropriate way to put their beauty and awe into words. You will just have to see them yourself. 

Check out this YouTube video that shows the northern lights in real time.

3. You Can Experience the Midnight Sun

The midnight sun is another spectacular and unusual aspect of Alaska. The midnight sun happens during the spring and summer months when the sun is still out at midnight. 

This phenomenon occurs from April 22nd to August 20th, when you will experience continuous daylight. The peak of the midnight sun is on June 21st, give or take a day, when the sun is the brightest at midnight. 

If you visit during this week, you can partake in some of the celebrations surrounding this day and its continuous sunshine. 

Personally, I always enjoy visiting Alaska during the summer solstice but be prepared for crowds. Make sure you book your hotels, activities, and flights well in advance because they can fill up quickly. 

4. You Can Spot Some Wildlife

Finally, Alaska has some fantastic wildlife. Unless you are in the heart of one of the large cities, there is a good chance you will run into some of the many species that live here. 

Alaska has a “Big 5”, similar to the African Big 5, and tourists come from around the world hoping to spot them during their visit. 

Alaska’s big 5 include:

  • Moose
  • Bear
  • Wolf
  • Dall sheep
  • Caribou

Although these are the most popular animals to see in Alaska, there are plenty more, including: 

  • Whales 
  • Eagles 
  • Orcas 
  • Musk oxen
  • Reindeer
  • Mountain goats

If you want the best chance of spotting wildlife, visiting one of the eight national parks or going on a tour specializing in mammal spotting is your best bet.

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