Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Alaska
Alaska is a land of natural beauty, rugged landscapes, and stunning wilderness areas, making it one of the most picturesque places on Earth. Whether you’re an adventurer at heart or just want to bask in the splendor of its national parks, Alaska has plenty to offer.
From glaciers and fjords to the Northern Lights and wildlife, it’s no wonder that Alaska is on so many traveler’s bucket lists. With so many amazing sights to see, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 10 must-see tourist attractions in Alaska. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to be amazed by the breathtaking beauty of Alaska!
10. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a must-see for any traveler visiting Alaska. Located in south-central Alaska near the Kenai Peninsula, this amazing wildlife preserve offers visitors an up close and personal look at Alaska’s native wildlife. The Center is dedicated to protecting Alaska’s diverse and unique species and houses a range of animals from all over the state.
From bald eagles and bears to wolves and moose, visitors can observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. But don’t mistake the center for just a zoo—the Center also features educational programs, walking trails, and an interpretive center with detailed information about each species. Its mission is to promote the conservation of Alaska’s wildlife and landscapes by inspiring people to appreciate, understand, and value them.
In addition, the Center partners with other organizations to build partnerships that help fund research and education projects throughout the state. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a unique experience, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is not to be missed.
9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Explore the largest national park in the United States
As the largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias offers a myriad of captivating landscapes that will leave you breathless. From towering mountains to sprawling glaciers, and dense forests to pristine rivers, this park is a haven for those seeking to immerse themselves in the wonders of the natural world.
Rising dramatically into the sky, the snow-capped peaks of the majestic St. Elias Mountains create a stunning backdrop against the vast open spaces. Mount St. Elias, the second-highest peak in the United States, commands attention with its imposing presence.
Exploring the park’s diverse terrain is an adventure in itself. Hiking trails wind through picturesque valleys, leading you to hidden waterfalls, serene alpine lakes, and meadows teeming with vibrant wildflowers. Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted to encounter a variety of animals, including grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, and eagles, as they traverse the park’s rugged terrain.
The park also offers opportunities for backcountry camping and mountaineering, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the untamed wilderness. Imagine pitching your tent under a star-studded sky, surrounded by pristine nature and the soothing sounds of the Alaskan wilderness.
The capital city is known for stunning scenery & outdoor activities
Step out into the crisp Alaskan air and take in the beautiful glaciers, mountain ranges, and stunning coastal views. Take a boat tour and explore one of the many glaciers that are just off the shore. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try some glacier hiking and experience the majesty of Alaska’s natural wonders firsthand.
Juneau also has a great selection of museums, galleries, and attractions perfect for those interested in soaking up some local culture. Marvel at a totem pole or visit the Virtual Cozy Cottage Museum for an intimate look at Alaskan life in the early 1900s. For art lovers, the Alaska State Library and Archives house an impressive collection of artwork from local and international artists.
Downtown Juneau offers foodies a unique dining experience with lots of restaurants serving savory seafood dishes and classic American cuisine. In the evening, hit up one of the bars and enjoy live music or catch a show at one of the local theatres.
No matter what your preference is, Juneau has it all! So why not make it the destination for your next vacation?
Tongass National Forest
7. Tracy Arm Fjord
Marvel at towering glaciers and cascading waterfalls
Tracy Arm Fjord is a narrow, deep inlet located in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. The fjord stretches over 30 miles long and is flanked by majestic peaks, creating a dramatic backdrop for your adventure. As you navigate through its icy waters, you’ll be greeted by massive glaciers that have been sculpted by time and nature. Witnessing these massive sheets of ice up close is a surreal experience that will leave you humbled by the wonders of our planet.
One of the highlights of Tracy Arm Fjord is the Sawyer Glacier, a tidewater glacier that calves into the fjord. The sight of this massive glacier with its brilliant blue ice is truly awe-inspiring. As you cruise closer to the glacier, you may even witness chunks of ice breaking off and plunging into the chilly waters below, creating a thunderous roar that echoes through the fjord.
Tracy Arm Fjord boasts a myriad of cascading waterfalls that cascade down the steep cliffs. These pristine waterfalls create a symphony of nature, their gentle spray adding to the serenity of the surroundings.
6. Katmai National Park
Encounter brown bears in their natural habitat
This sprawling park spans over 4 million acres of untamed beauty, offering visitors a chance to witness one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: the majestic brown bears.
Imagine standing on the banks of the Brooks River, watching in awe as the bears expertly catch salmon leaping upstream. It’s a mesmerizing experience that will leave you in awe of the power and grace of these magnificent creatures. The park offers numerous viewing platforms and guided tours, ensuring a safe and respectful way to witness these incredible animals in action.
For the truly adventurous, Katmai National Park offers the opportunity for bear-viewing excursions, where you can hike to prime bear-watching locations, guided by experienced naturalists. These expeditions provide an unparalleled chance to observe the bears in their element, as they fish, play, and interact with one another.
5. Inside Passage
A picturesque coastal route for whale watching and cruising
The Inside Passage is a stunning coastal route that winds its way through the breathtaking beauty of Alaska. This picturesque waterway stretches over 1,000 miles, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness the majestic wonders of nature up close. Known for its abundant marine life and pristine landscapes, the Inside Passage is a popular destination for whale watching and cruising.
From small expedition vessels to large luxury liners, there is an Inside Passage cruise for every type of traveler. As you glide through the tranquil waters, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming coastal towns, visit remote wilderness areas, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.
Along the way, you can explore the charming towns of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, each offering its own unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. From exploring historic sites and museums to indulging in fresh seafood delicacies, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
4. Glacier Bay National Park
A mesmerizing display of glaciers and wildlife
Spanning over 3.3 million acres, this picturesque park is a testament to the power and grandeur of nature. You’ll be greeted by a breathtaking display of towering glaciers, each one with its own unique shape and size. Witnessing these massive ice formations up close is an experience unlike any other. The glistening blue hues and intricate patterns of the glaciers create a mesmerizing spectacle that will leave you in awe.
Exploring Glacier Bay is not limited to observing its natural wonders from a distance. You can take a boat tour or kayak through the park, allowing you to get even closer to the glaciers and wildlife. Imagine the thrill of paddling alongside a massive iceberg, feeling its coolness as you navigate through the calm waters. The serenity of the surroundings and the sense of being immersed in nature’s masterpiece will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
3. Denali National Park and Preserve
Home to North America’s tallest peak
Denali National Park and Preserve is a must-see for any Alaskan trip. Located in the central part of the state, it’s home to Mt. McKinley — the tallest mountain in North America. Visitors will find ample opportunities to explore here, from glaciers and tundras to spectacular wildlife like caribou and grizzly bears.
Explore the backcountry with experienced guides, or take a thrilling helicopter tour that allows them to take in the breathtaking views from high above. From fishing and hunting to climbing and hiking, Denali has something for everyone. Be sure to book your stay ahead of time as reservations fill up quickly during peak season. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or just starting out, Denali National Park and Preserve is sure to offer you an unforgettable experience.
2. Kenai Fjords National Park
Witness the majesty of icefields and fjords
Kenai Fjords National Park is one of Alaska’s most visited tourist attractions, and it is easy to see why. Located on the south-central coast of the state, the park consists of nearly 700,000 acres of coastline which is home to a stunning array of wildlife, including sea lions, orcas, humpback whales, and porpoises.
Visitors can explore the area via kayak or boat tours, or take a guided hike on one of its many trails. The park also features a range of breathtaking landscapes from mountains to glaciers that should not be missed. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the top destinations for visitors to Alaska.
1. The Northern Lights
Experience nature’s dazzling light show in Fairbanks
Fairbanks, Alaska is a destination that holds a special place in the hearts of adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. One of the most awe-inspiring experiences that you absolutely cannot miss during your visit to Fairbanks is witnessing the mesmerizing display of the Northern Lights.
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon that has captivated people for centuries. Fairbanks, with its prime location in the auroral oval, offers some of the best opportunities to witness this breathtaking light show.
Imagine standing under a dark, star-filled sky as vibrant ribbons of green, pink, and purple dance across the horizon. The Northern Lights create a magical atmosphere that is truly a sight to behold. The colors shift and swirl, creating a mesmerizing display that will leave you in awe of the wonders of nature.
To increase your chances of catching this incredible spectacle, plan your visit during the winter months when the nights are longer and darker. Fairbanks’ clear skies and lack of light pollution provide optimal conditions for viewing the Northern Lights.
Unique Things to Do in Alaska
Alaska offers a vast and diverse landscape with many things to do beyond the usual tourist attractions. Here’s a list of things to do in Alaska that provide unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences:
- Flightseeing Tour to Denali: Instead of just visiting Denali National Park, consider taking a flightseeing tour that offers breathtaking aerial views of North America’s tallest peak, Mount Denali.
- Alaskan Hot Springs: Relax in one of Alaska’s natural hot springs, such as Chena Hot Springs or Manley Hot Springs, where you can soak in geothermal waters surrounded by wilderness.
- Dog Sledding in Summer: Experience the thrill of dog sledding even in the summer months by taking a wheeled dog sled ride. You can visit kennels and interact with sled dogs.
- Hike the Crow Pass Trail: This challenging 23-mile trail offers stunning views, waterfalls, and the chance to explore an abandoned gold mine along the way.
- Glacier Hiking in Wrangell-St. Elias: Instead of just viewing glaciers from afar, join a guided hike on a glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to get up close to these frozen wonders.
- Anan Wildlife Observatory: Located in the Tongass National Forest, this observatory allows you to see black and brown bears up close as they feed on salmon during the summer months.
- Kayaking in Prince William Sound: Explore the rugged coastline, fjords, and glaciers of Prince William Sound by sea kayak, away from the crowds of the Inside Passage.
- Kennecott Copper Mines: Tour the abandoned Kennecott Copper Mines in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and learn about the history of mining in the region.
- Arctic Circle Adventure: Take an Arctic Circle tour, which might include a visit to the northernmost city in the United States, Barrow (Utqiaġvik), and a chance to witness the midnight sun.
- Salmon Fishing: Experience the thrill of salmon fishing in one of Alaska’s pristine rivers, such as the Kenai River or Copper River.
- Ghost Town of Nome: Explore the history of the Gold Rush by visiting the ghost town of Nome, which still has remnants of its gold mining past.
- Explore Kodiak Island: Visit Kodiak Island for wildlife viewing, including the Kodiak brown bear, as well as hiking and fishing opportunities.
- Wildlife Viewing in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge: Take a guided tour to see puffins, sea otters, and other wildlife in this remote and less-visited refuge.
- Hiking the Harding Icefield Trail: Located in Kenai Fjords National Park, this challenging trail leads to panoramic views of the massive Harding Icefield.
- Visit the Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik: Explore the historic Russian Orthodox Church in the charming village of Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula.
These off-the-beaten-path experiences in Alaska offer a chance to connect with the state’s stunning natural beauty, history, and unique culture while avoiding some of the crowds often found at the more popular tourist destinations.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post on the top 10 must-see tourist attractions in Alaska. From the awe-inspiring glaciers to the stunning wildlife, Alaska offers a truly breathtaking experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re planning a trip or simply dreaming of exploring this remarkable destination, be sure to add these attractions to your bucket list. Alaska awaits you with its unparalleled beauty and endless wonders. Start planning your Alaskan adventure today and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Alaska