Explorer John Muir wrote: “To the lover of pure wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” Situated west of Canada, the largest state in the U.S. is a vast, undeveloped land with 29 volcanoes, half the world’s glaciers and 1,000 vertebrate species of wildlife. Discover outdoor adventures for the advanced thrill-seeker or novice explorer: trekking Savage River Loop, paddling past glaciers in Resurrection Bay or fishing for hundred-pound halibut near Homer.
From May through July, the sun circles high above the horizon; in Anchorage, it rises as early as 4:20 a.m. and sets as late as 11:42 p.m. King Salmon spawn, marking a prime fishing season at Bristol Bay and the Kenai River. Plan a day of hiking, cycling or camping in Denali National Park‘s 6 million acres of wilderness teeming with unfenced wildlife. Take in views of North America’s tallest peak, Mt. McKinley, and observe grizzly bears on the tundra. Visit Katmai National Park and watch brown bears – the largest, protected population in the world – feed on sockeye salmon near the Brooks Falls platform, or dig for clams on the eastern shoreline.
For a panoramic vantage of the 33,000 miles of coastline, opt for an Alaskan cruise and explore ports along the way. Tour the Alaska Gulf town of Sitka, with its sweeping views of dormant Mt. Edgecumbe, and study local migrating wildlife, most notably humpback whales and sea lions. Located in Tongass National Forest and only accessible by boat or plane, the state capital of Juneau rests on the edge of a 1,500 mile ice field. From downtown, travel 13 miles to Mendenhall Glacier and wander Photo Point Trail. Depart from Juneau on a ferry through the Inside Passage, the longest and deepest inlet in North America, and glimpse dolphins and orca pods.
In the winter, head to Anchorage for the famous Iditarod sled-dog races or spend part of the day cross-country and downhill skiing. At Chena Hot Springs Resort, approximately an hour and a half from Fairbanks, wait for the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) to illuminate the sky with a mysterious, colorful glow.