After beginning to plan our trip to Alaska last July, I was very surprised at how many people asked us, “why Alaska?”. Alaska is cold… and I guess everyone just assumes vacation equals a warm sunny beach somewhere (which don’t get me wrong, I enjoy just as much as anyone!). But maybe after reading my list you’ll have a different opinion on whether or not you should consider choosing Alaska over the beach for your next vacation. If you’re not already familiar with Alaska, it is actually one of the top cruise destinations and an increasingly popular vacation destination. By the way, it’s not even that cold in July. Don’t let the weather scare you!
Ok, so here are my 10 reasons why you need to plan your next trip to Alaska:
- Wilderness: Alaska, simply put, is beautiful. It easily tops the list of beautiful places I’ve been. The vastness of the unspoiled wilderness is truly captivating… massive glaciers, snowcapped mountains, waterfalls, and emerald lakes are just a few things that make this land simply stunning. It’s really a magical place.
- Wildlife: You’re guaranteed to have more than one amazing wildlife encounter. We saw seals, bald eagles, whales, moose, and even a few bear with the help of some binoculars. Check out Ketchikan Outdoors for a great harbor tour in Ketchikan. *Whale Watching Tip: Book a small 6-8 passenger tour! It is waaaay better than the large boat tours with 50+ people. The big ships can’t get as close!
- Adventure: There are so many choices for an adventure in Alaska that they can’t all be done in one trip. Climb a glacier, ride a dog sled, pan for gold, zip-line through the rainforest, fly in a float plane, salmon fishing and the list goes on and on. There is certainly no shortage of things to do for the thrill-seeking adventure enthusiast. Check out Alaska Canopy Adventures for a zip-line adventure in the Tongass rainforest.
- Glaciers: If you haven’t seen a glacier in your lifetime, you need to! Glaciers are fascinating and rather mysterious natural wonders. Floating up to a massive glacier the size of a 30-story building and watching and hearing the thunderous crack of ice plummeting into the sea was an amazing experience. Another way to experience a glacier is from the surface. Walking atop a 40 mile glacier filled with ice blue crevasses of untold depths was a once-in-a lifetime experience. If you’re planning a cruise, make sure your ship has Glacier Bay on the itinerary!
- Seafood: If you like seafood, you will enjoy Alaska. It’s the main menu option everywhere you go and of course it is 100% fresh! I can honestly say everything I ate was delicious! Of course we had to sample some king crab legs (that we could only imagine were caught by the Time Bandit from Deadliest Catch)! Check out Twisted Fish Co. in Juneau for some tasty salmon tacos.
- Dog Sledding: This has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. Ever since I saw the movie Iron Will I knew it was something I wanted to do. This was such an awesome experience! If you love dogs and adventure this is a must do while in Alaska! Check out Group 3 Aviation for your dogsledding experience. They are real Iditarod dogs and everything!
- Flight-seeing: Float planes, bush planes and helicopters are a popular mode of transportation in Alaska. In fact the capital city of Juneau can only be reached by plane or boat. Crazy right? At least one of these flights is a must do if you visit Alaska. The landscape is so vast and when experienced from the sky, it is simply breathtaking. Don’t pass this up… Even knowing I get sick in small planes, I was willing to hop in and go (as long as a barf bag was included). Luckily, I did not get sick and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Check out Temsco Air for a great helicopter-glacier trek.
- Trains: There are railways all throughout Alaska. We chose to take a dome train from Seward to Anchorage and it was a beautiful scenic ride with landscape that you’d miss if not for the rail. It is considered one of the most scenic train trips in the entire state! Taking a train is a great way to really take in the scenery and relax while getting to your next destination. Check out the Alaska Railroad.
- Native Culture: I love learning about history and different cultures. I find it fascinating. Alaska certainly does not disappoint in this area. It is rich with history dating back hundreds of years and you can see so much of the cultural influences in the small native towns. From the first Ice Age nomads to the Russian fur traders to the gold miners, there is so much to learn about the history of this great land. Skagway was an especially neat place as it is known as the gateway to the Klondike where the gold rush took place in the 1800’s. We were able to drive along the route that was blazed by the prospectors in search of gold, which was particularly amazing to see the rugged land they traversed. Check out Green Jeep Rentals for your drive up the Klondike Highway and watch our time-lapse of the entire drive!
- Mountains: I love mountains! They are so majestic and amazing. Probably the most famous mountain in Alaska is Mt. Mckinley (also known as Denali). It is the highest mountain peak in North America. Unfortunately, our summit flight over Denali that we had planned was cancelled due to weather. I can only imagine the grandeur and awesomeness of that flight (something to do when we go back!). We were still able to see many other beautiful mountain peaks which were pretty awesome as well. Check out K2 Aviation for Denali flight tours.
Alaska is truly a wild, majestic, and breathtaking place. If you’re looking to find somewhere with beauty, adventure, and awe, Alaska should be at the top of your list! Now start saving your dough and “go do”!
Already planning your trip to Alaska? Check out our tips and travel hacking ideas to help make the most of your adventure!