From the state’s rugged coastline to its snow-capped mountains, Alaska offers travelers unique attractions that can’t be found anywhere else in America. Here are just a few items that every traveler to Alaska should include on their vacation bucket list.
Drive to the Arctic Circle
This Alaska Wildlife Guide day tour picks up travelers in Fairbanks for a 14-hour ride along the Dalton Highway (also known as Alaska Route 11) as it crosses over the Yukon River at the El Patton Bridge. Before reaching the Arctic Circle, visitors can spot a bevy of native wildlife, including foxes, moose, bears, wolves, and even lynx.
The main attraction, of course, is the icy beauty of the Arctic Circle itself. On the return trip, some lucky travelers may also get a glimpse of the Northern Lights (otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis).
Witness Glaciers From Your Cruise Ship Cabin
No trip to Alaska would be complete without witnessing the magnificence of a glacier. Make a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier, a 13-mile long structure conveniently located within the 5,815-acre Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in southeast Alaska. As if the glacier itself wasn’t impressive enough, icebergs that float in the lake surrounding it make for an even more spectacular sight.
For those who prefer a less conventional journey, take a cruise off the coast of Alaska and watch as a piece of a five-story glacier breaks apart and plunges into the ocean. Considering that a baseball-sized chunk of glacial ice weighs half a pound, the opportunity to witness the impact of an enormous ice fragment crashing into the water below is not to be missed.
Sailing With the Whales
Whale watching ranks as Alaska’s number one tourist attraction, and for good reason. Regardless of whether you choose to observe marine life from a luxury cruise ship or on board a local tour boat, it’s sure to be an extremely memorable experience.
The Juneau Whale Watch tour company embarks from Fisherman’s Bend in Auke Bay Harbor and ventures into waters where humpback whales and orcas often swim. Don’t worry — these whales are extremely friendly, and will sometimes even approach the boat to say hello and let passengers snap a photo. Whales aren’t the only wild creatures one can observe on a whale watching excursion, either: sea lions, seals, black bears, and bald eagles also populate the landscape.
Experience an Alaskan Highway
While many visitors choose to view Alaska from boats, helicopters, and airplanes, you might opt to hop into a car and simply meander along one of the state’s many long and winding rural highways to glimpse the vastness of the state (or what the locals term the “Alaska Factor”).
You can drive on one of the state’s many scenic thoroughfares, such as the Denali Park Road from McKinley Park to Kantishna or the Hatcher Pass route from Anchorage. We recommend that you take frequent stops along the way to take in the raw beauty of the tundra. You may even observe the delicate wildflowers that somehow manage to survive the harsh Alaskan winter and sprout in the spring.
Whether you choose to travel by air, sea, or open road, be sure to investigate some of the incredible market-beating rates offered via Government Vacation Rewards. Members are eligible for our one-of-a-kind Travel Savings Credits program, not to mention extensive discounts on hotels, cruises, airfare, and more.