The first thing that will pop up in most of the people’s mind when they hear about Alaska are lots of snow, really cold weather and perhaps a dog sleigh. For most of us, Alaska is everything that we have read in Jack London’s books.
But the 49th state is so much more than that. This Summer I went on my first trip there to see with my own eyes what Alaska is really is. The state feels like another planet with its towering snow-capped mountains, wild coastal plains and glacier-rimmed fjords.
Alaska should be high on anyone’s list of places to visit, especially all of you that love to hike and explore nature. With its multiple mountain ranges and one of the world’s longest coastlines, Alaska will take your breath. There are so many things that Alaska can offer you if you are adventures traveller.
I had around 5 days to know this beautiful land and the first thing I learned about Alaska is that when it comes to wildlife, Alaska is famous for salmon, moose, caribou, bears, whales, bison, puffins and jellyfish. Alaska’s scenery can be described as white glaciers and fjords, mountains, and more lakes, rivers, and waterways than one could dream of.
My green Alaska adventure began from the state capital Juneau. The city is located on the Gastineau Channel in the southeast part of the state between the Gulf of Alaska and British Columbia. You can access the city only by air and water. There aren’t routes that connect the city with other cities.
My first day I wanted to explore the city and get a better feeling of it. Browsing the streets and the big boulevards it’s not so much different than the other big American cities. But here you can see the Russian influences and a little bit of a hint from the Wild West.
An interesting fact about the city is that, in 1906, the capital of the District of Alaska was moved to Juneau from Sitka. The move of the capital city followed the gold-rush fuelled the growth of Juneau combined with the decline in whaling and fur trade that had given Sitka its earlier economic prominence.
One of the first things to do in Juneau is to take the aerial tramway tour of the city. Cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest to the Mountain House, offering expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The view is really spectacular.
Riding the Mount Roberts Tramway is essentially the Eiffel Tower of Juneau. At the top, you’ll have a panoramic raven’s eye view of the city and its surrounding channels and islands.
My adventure continues with some of the most rewarding outdoor adventures you’ll ever have in your lifetime – the Whale Watching. Juneau is the place to go whale watching if you’re coming to Alaska. From Juneau’s harbour, you can take some of the many tours that will take you to see these marvellous creatures.
Glaciers are Alaska’s #1 tourist attraction. Tens of thousands of them cover the state. I have the chance to see one of the biggest glaciers – The Mendenhall. It’s located in Auke Bay, Juneau. To go there I just took the multiple public buses from the city. The bus dropped me at the visitor centre, which offers great sightseeing and its paradise for great photo moments.
There are not enough words to describe the majestic Tongass National Forest. Undeniably, it’s one of the countries – even the worlds – greenest, biomass hotspots. It’s impossible to miss, primordially shrouded in mist most days, awaiting your pleasure. If you are lucky you can spot a bear up close or a moose.
My next stop was Anchorage, popular with its visions of polar ice caps and frozen tundra. It’s also warmer than you think. My first stop there was the city zoo, where you can see up-close some of the most popular tundra animals.
I was curious to learn more about the Alaska Native culture and traditions, and there is no better place to do that at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. At the museum, I saw plenty of crafts and handiwork: beautifully adorned moose hide boots, birch bark baskets, and tunics made from seal hide. Outside, I check out the life-sized traditional native dwellings—like a Supiaq, a semi-subterranean home built by the Alutiiqs to shelter themselves from the harsh Alaskan climate.
On the next day, I headed to the Alaska Turnagain Arm, which is one of two narrow branches at the north end of Cook Inlet. This place is a paradise for the surfers because there is one of the largest wive in the world.
Close to the Turnagain Arm is a fisherman village Seward, called by many as the foodie town. I took a lazy walk on the boardwalk, and I had the chance to see the fishermen show their catches of the day and admire the beautiful scenery. The most significant fish to try here is the halibut. You can also join the locals for an unforgettable fishing trip and catch yourself a halibut.
On my way to Alaska’s second-largest city Fairbanks I stopped to admire the tallest mountains in the state – Denali. Previously named and known as Mount McKinley, Denali means ‘the tall one’ in the native Koyukon language. Denali is the highest peak in North America and is both the third most prominent and third most isolated peak in the world.
I drove on Dalton highway on my way to the Arctic Circle. On my way there I enjoyed Alaska’s untouched nature and raw beauty. During my tour, I saw the Trans Alaska Pipeline, looked down upon the Yukon River, toked a stroll around Finger Mountain and spot some of the Alaskan wildlife.
When you are in Alaska is a must to go to the North Pole and meet Santa Clause. The saying ‘Christmas in July’ is 100% valid there. Christmas Towne is the result of one local family’s love for the wonderful memories that are made during the holiday season. The owner, Cortney Moore, wanted to create a place where kids could come and experience the real magic of Christmas.
To wrap up my Alaska journey, this beautiful land is ideal for all adventures travellers, who love wild nature, hidings and explorer the unknown. For all of the foodie travellers, I recommend trying all the 5 diffracted salmon or the local fish, don’t forget the big crabs.
For some of those adventures foodies Alaska is the best place to try venison or deer meat. The best time to visit Alaska in the summer between June and August, where the temperature can reach 30 degrease. Truly it’s an amazing green adventure there.
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