Alaska is the largest of the 50 United States, and is also the most northerly and remote wilderness. As such, visitors tend to be concentrated in the southern, most accessible part of the state. Most tourists actually see the state via a cruise ship. Check out some of the best that Alaska has to offer, below, then check out the photo album.
1. Glacier Bay & the Inside Passage
Glacier Bay National Park preserves the wilderness on either side of a major coastal waterway on Alaska Sound. Many glaciers flow into the bay, providing both a living laboratory of glacial geology and dramatic, exciting scenery for the visitor. Most people see Glacier Bay from the deck of a cruise ship or ferry. Some offer excursions to the glaciers for the adventuresome. The Inside Passage is the water route taken by most cruise ships which visit Alaska. It is the area between the continental shore of Alaska and the offshore islands, so the water here is not as rough and unpredictable as it would be beyond these islands. In addition, this route allows easy access to coastal communities such as Ketchikan, with its Native Indian culture and many totem poles, Juneau, capital of Alaska and home of the Mendenhall Glacier, one of the state’s most accessible glaciers, and Skagway, the town associated with the Klondike gold rush of 1897.
2. Denali National Park
Denali National Park is truly a stunning park. It is extremely remote, over 300 miles from Anchorage, and preserves a large area of Alaskan wilderness, including Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. Wildlife-viewing in the park is virtually guaranteed, from Golden Eagles to Grizzly Bears to Dall Sheep to Caribou.
Much of the park is inaccessible except to wilderness hikers or snowmobiles, but the Park Road, restricted for the majority of its 140 kilometer (85 mile) length to shuttle buses, provides access to the major viewing areas.
The majority of visitors to the park get to Denali as an excursion from their cruise ship.
3. Wrangell-St Elias National Park
Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve, in south-central Alaska, is the largest national park in the United States. It preserves a wilderness area of mountains and ice fields. There are only a few roads, several of them just gravel, which penetrate the park and allow access to some of its treasures. The area was noted for its copper deposits and remains one the world’s richest sources of the metal.