Picture of Alaska's Waters

Exploring Alaska: 5 Must-See Destinations

Many seasoned travelers dream of exploring Alaska. This northern state boasts stunning landscapes, breathtaking glaciers, and untouched wilderness. Depending on the time of year, you can experience nearly full days of sunlight or darkness. All of these features can be fascinating to adventurers, drawing them to this rugged region. 

If you’re traveling to Alaska, it can be tricky to set up a perfect itinerary. There is simply so much to see and do. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your options, consider adding the following destinations to your list: these are the must-see attractions, cities, and parks that Alaska offers.

Bristol Bay

If you enjoy fishing or spending time on the water in general, be sure to book a stay on Bristol Bay. This area is prime for competitive and recreational fishing, as well as wildlife viewing. Bristol Bay is also home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Consider staying at an Alaska fishing lodge to immerse yourself in this local experience and meet other passionate fishers.

Denali National Park

Your trip to Alaska is the perfect time to cross a national park or two off your list, and Denali is certainly a must-see. Denali National Park is a sprawling six million acres, where you can explore lower elevation forests and tundra as you marvel at North America’s highest peak. This park offers both tent and RV camping at various campgrounds, so you can spread your experience over several days.

You can also take a ranger-led hike, backpack through the park for multiple days, or take a bus ride through the park. The park staff can help you plan an experience that matches your ideal activity level.

The Northern Lights

Marveling at the northern lights should be on everyone’s travel list, and Alaska might present a chance to do so. The best time to see the Northern Lights is generally between September and April during a clear night. They are usually most visible after midnight. Whether you are staying in a remote lodge or in a tent, bundle up and head outside to view nature’s most sought-after light show. 

Ketchikan

If you are looking to explore a town during your stay, then Ketchikan could be an ideal location. This quaint destination is the southernmost city in Alaska and is close to a variety of attractions. While in the city, you can check out the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and Tongass Historical Museum.

Be sure to stroll down Creek Street as well, snapping photos of the historic buildings and cruise ship docks. If you book a few nights in this city, you can schedule excursions like hiking tours and ziplining in nearby Tongass National Forest.

Kenai Fjords National Park

If you are passionate about geologic structures and aquatic wildlife, be sure to make time to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. Looking over the water, you will see pristine ice caps and glaciers. Between the ice, natural fjords are home to whales, birds, and other animals. Book a guided tour to experience the highlights of the park and learn more about the makeup of the landscape. 

While it’s impossible to see all of Alaska in just one trip, the destinations you visit are sure to leave you wanting more. National parks, coastal cities, fishing experience, and the untouched landscape draw crowds of visitors every year, many of whom are on return trips. While it’s important to plan out much of your trip, be sure to leave some room for spontaneity. The recommendations you receive from locals and seasoned travelers might become your favorite parts of your trip.