8 Things You Can Only Do in Alaska
8 Things You Can Only Do in Alaska

It’s no secret that Alaska is one of the most stunning and unique states in the U.S. There are countless thrilling adventures hidden in the Alaskan wilderness, many of which you cannot experience anywhere else in the world. Here are 8 of the best things you can only do in Alaska.

Ride the Alaska Railroad

Alaska railroad traveling through autumn landscape and mountains
Credit: Beth Ruggiero-York/ Shutterstock

What’s the most unforgettable way to experience Alaska’s stunning scenery? By train, of course! The state’s main railway, Alaska Railroad, crosses over 500 miles of the vast state from Seward to Fairbanks. The most popular train ride is aboard the Denali Star Train, which travels from Anchorage through Denali National Park and to Fairbanks. Passengers will witness all the most famous Alaskan sites as they cross over the Hurricane Gulch Bridge, around the winding Indian River, past staggering glaciers, and through breathtaking spruce forests. On a clear day, Denali will be visible towering over the backdrop of blue sky.

Spend the Night in a Train

Alaska's Express bed and breakfast.
Credit: EQRoy/ Shutterstock

Alaska is absolute heaven for train lovers. After a ride on the Denali Star Train, don’t miss the opportunity to stay in the Aurora Express bed and breakfast in Fairbanks. Several cars from the Aurora Express were once destined to become a museum, but some Alaskan natives had the idea to turn it into a unique hotel. The train has been tastefully decorated in a luxurious and historical manner while still maintaining the train’s authentic parts. Each car of the train provides a view of the beautiful Alaskan sunrises and northern lights!

Marvel at the Ice Caves (Mendenhall & Guyot)

Person walking towards the exit of ice cave.
Credit: Sean Lema/ Shutterstock

Alaska is famous for its massive glaciers that stay frozen all year round. These glaciers are fun to look at from afar but they’re even more fun to experience from the inside. Ice caves are created in glaciers as the ice melts and flows into a nearby crevasse. There are several ice caves that tourists can tour, the most famous being Mendenhall Ice Caves. Inside of these ice caves you’ll find a vibrant dance of aqua, cobalt, and sapphire blues. As tempting as it is to spend the whole visit photographing this one-of-a-kind site, don’t forget to take a moment to bask in the magic of ice caves.

Visit the Dr Suess House

An aerial view of Talkeenta's mountain range, where the Dr. Suess House is located.
Credit: FloridaStock/ Shutterstock

The famed children's book author, Dr Suess, is well known for his outrageously whimsy and colorful storybook illustrations. So when people first came across the towering, wacky house in the middle of the Alaskan Wilderness, it was only natural to dub it the ‘Dr Suess’ House’. The house looks like someone tried to stack a whole bunch of houses on top of each other creating a tower that goes 185 feet into the sky. The owner of the house died before construction could be finished, so the house is virtually abandoned. You can view this house on the train from Anchorage to Denali or by driving on the Parks Highway.

Explore a Frozen Ghost Town

Abandoned Kennecott copper mine with mountains in the background.
Credit: Trina Barnes/ Shutterstock

Haunted house and history lovers are not going to want to miss the opportunity to explore some of Alaska’s most famed ghost towns. Ghost towns can be found in the mainland U.S., but Alaskan gold towns are unique because of the isolated ways they developed and the tragedies that led to their end. Portage ghost town was a thriving mining town before it was hit by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake, one of the most powerful in recorded history. Now it is nothing but an eerie collection of abandoned buildings

Adventure to the Northernmost Point in North America

Arctic Circle Sign along the Dalton Hwy, Alaska.
Credit: Senthil Raman/ Shutterstock

Most people stick to visiting Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Denali National Park when traveling to Alaska. Those areas are packed with enough adventures to fill up several weeks of exploring. But for those looking for a one-of-a-kind Alaska adventure, a tour up to the Arctic Circle is an absolute must. A trip like this can be arranged through a tour group specializing in Arctic tours like the Northern Alaska Tour Company. These tour companies will take you by helicopter and off-roading vehicle to one of the northernmost points in North America. Along the way you’ll spot polar bears, the Yukon River, and the northern lights.

Cruise Glacier Bay

Cruise ship in Glacier Bay cruising towards Johns Hopkins Glacier in Alaska.
Credit: Maridav/ Shutterstock

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most famous national parks in Alaska (the state has eight national parks in total)! Most visitors to Glacier Bay spend a day out in the water cruising around to see views you can’t get anywhere else. These cruises typically last about nine hours and take passengers to all the most popular spots in the area like Taylor Bay and Tidal Inlet. Along the way, you’ll use binoculars to spot wildlife on the shore like polar bears, goats, puffins, and otters. The imposing glaciers looming in the background are a sight to take your breath away and if you’re lucky, you may see some humpback whales swimming around.

Fly over Denali National Park

Aerial view of glaciers and mountains in Denali National Park.
Credit: Richard A McMillin/ Shutterstock

There are many excellent ways to explore Denali National Park– car, train, and hiking. However, the most unique way to get the full Denali experience is by plane! Flying around from thousands of feet in the air is the only way to grasp the true enormity of the park. The plane will soar above the clouds to the glaciers on the rugged mountains where you can spot climbers attempting to summit Denali, the tallest mountain in the U.S. It is even possible to land on one of the glaciers and have a mid-summer snowball fight!

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