GMT -9 hours
Wild and spectacular wilderness experiences
The largest state in the USA is a land of superlatives; its sheer scale and wild, natural beauty overwhelm the senses like few other places on earth. Epic landscapes range from crystal clear lakes and pioneer towns to vast rainforest wilderness and remote glacial wonderlands, with incredible wildlife including grizzly bears and humpback whales. Vast and extraordinarily beautiful, Alaska is an adventure waiting to be explored.
In Alaska it’s all about the great outdoors, with activities ranging from hiking and rafting to salmon fishing, and unique landscapes that provide habitat for black and brown (grizzly) bears, blue and humpback whales, moose, lynx and wolves.
The real highlights lie in Alaska’s national parks. In the wilderness of Denali National Park, follow the single 92-mile road that leads to Mount McKinley, North America’s highest mountain peak, passing dramatic landscapes of forest, alpine tundra and snowcapped mountains, glimpsing bears and moose along the way. Be sure to sample a salmon bake, grilled over a wood fire.
Katmai National Park is where you have the chance to capture the iconic image of brown bears at Brooks Falls, catching salmon as they leap down the rapids. Created to preserve the ‘Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes’ (so called after a deep ash flow was deposited by the eruption of the Novarupta Volcano in 1912, causing steaming smoke from the fissured floor), this incredible park has 14 volcanoes and is home to over 2,000 brown bears.
Seward is the entrance point for Kenai Fjords National Park, straight out of the ice age. Off land, kayak between glaciers and amongst seals in Kenai Fjords National Park, where 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield – over 300 square miles of ice up to a mile thick.
Alaska’s state capital, Juneau, is the gateway to the 3.3 million acre Glacier Bay National Park. Cruise vast Glacier Bay National Park with its rugged mountains, tidewater glaciers and wild coastlines – and a feeding ground for humpback whales in summer.
Away from the national parks, spend time in Alaska’s most popular city, Anchorage, offering a unique blend of spectacular scenery, Russian and native heritage and big city amenities. Wander the narrow, pedestrian friendly streets, which are host to a good selection of bars and restaurants, museums and galleries, many displaying local and cultural art. Further north, the culture-rich town of Fairbanks is steeped in gold rush history.
Hiring a car is a scenic way to get around, with many of the most popular destinations accessible by Alaska’s highways. Alaska’s two main rail routes: the Alaska Railroad and the White Pass & Yukon Route are excellent for reaching places inaccessible by road. Travelling by ferry is also an option between coastal areas.
Create your holiday
If I had to pick just one highlight from my trip around Alaska, it would be going to see the bears at Brooks Falls; just getting there is an adventure. You have to get a float plane to Katmai National Park, landing on Naknek Lake at Brooks Lodge.
The accommodation is basic, log cabin style, but watching dozens of large grizzlies catching salmon jumping the falls from specially built viewing platforms, just feet away, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You must stay for at least one or two nights.