25 Stunning Photos of Alaska Landscapes
Impenetrable forests. Vast tundras. Towering glaciers. Regions ruled by wolves, bears, bald eagles—some of the north’s fiercest predators. With so many incredible natural wonders, from the auroras of winter to summer’s Midnight Sun, it’s still hard to believe Alaska is a U.S. state. What doesn’t surprise us? Why it tops so many bucket lists. These stunning photos of Alaska landscapes are bound to conjure serious wanderlust.
Alaska, the largest state in the U.S., dwarfs Texas. But even in a state known for its size, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park makes a statement. Almost six times the size of Yellowstone, and larger than the entirety of Switzerland, its staggering landscapes have space to reign—imposing glaciers, rushing rivers, and four major mountain ranges home to bear, moose, Dall sheep, and tiny 20th-century mining towns that have stood the test of time.
A two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Anchorage brings you to Seward, a scenic seaside village with a busy harbor and family-owned shops and galleries. It serves as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, whose waters put on a show with breaching humpback whales, flocks of puffins, and playful harbor seals. A boat tour, which launches from the harbor, is the best way to take in the wildlife—especially if you venture further to Resurrection Bay, where visitors can disembark to beachcomb, kayak the tidewater caves, or rent a cabin and stay the night.
Alaska ties California for containing the most national parks in a single state (eight apiece). Katmai, in the south, is best known for its population of brown bears, and remains one of the best places in the world to watch these majestic animals in their natural habitat—especially at Brooks Falls, where, from viewing platforms, you can watch them snap up migrating sockeye salmon trying to make it upriver. The best time to go is in July, but they make regular appearances from mid-spring through October.
The vastness of Alaska makes much of its interior impenetrable—chartering a floatplane might be your best bet for seeing its beauty in greater scope. From the air, it’s easy to spot herds of caribou—a species that outnumbers people in Alaska by the hundreds of thousands— or, if you’re near water, even a bald eagle in flight, America’s national bird.
Dog sledding has been around for centuries, used by residents in arctic climates to deliver mail and other necessities between settlements. But its racing roots began in Alaska, when, in 1925, a team lead by Balto (now immortalized as a statue in NYC’s Central Park) raced an antidote to cure a diphtheria outbreak to Nome in six days. That route is now the Iditarod Trail. The ceremonial start to the Iditarod begins in Anchorage every March, where spectators line up to catch a glimpse of the teams before they battle the elements on their 1,100-mile journey to Nome. Mushing, as it’s own, is now a quintessential Alaskan adventure, and a must for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the local way of life.
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Six million acres make up Denali National Park, crowned by the tallest mountain in North America. Only a single road carves its way through the wilderness, but many venture off the trail for some of the best biking, backpacking, and hiking in the country. Along the way, you might come across grizzly bears, wolves, or caribou, but, if the stars align, your most inspiring encounter will have you looking up, as the northern lights dance across the sky.
Juneau, Alaska’s distant capital, which sits on the state’s panhandle, is accessible only by boat or seaplane—making it a popular stopover for passing cruise ships. But the city deserves so much more than a pitstop. Head downtown to spot totem poles (important illustrations of family lineage carved by the native peoples of North America’s Pacific Northwest), hang out with local fishermen at no-frills fish-and-chip shops along the waterfront, or take the tram 1,800 feet up Mt. Roberts for an incredible view of Gastineau Channel and the colorful wildflowers and pine trees that blanket this beautiful corner of the world.
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