The sheer size of Alaska is tough to comprehend. Superimposed onto the Lower 48 states, it would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, while its coastline is longer than that of the remainder of the mainland United States combined. All but 3 of the nation’s twenty highest peaks are found here and one glacier alone is two times the size of Wales. In addition, not only does it contain America’s northernmost and westernmost points, but since the Aleutian Islands stretch throughout the 180th meridian, it consists of the easternmost point too. Wildlife may be under threat elsewhere, however here it is abundant, with bears standing 12ft high, moose stopping traffic in downtown Anchorage, wolves lurking national parks, bald eagles circling over the trees and rivers solid with fifty-pound-plus salmon.
Travelling here requires a spirit of adventure and to make the most of the state you have to delight in starting out by yourself and roughing it a bit. Binoculars are an outright must, as is bug spray; the mosquito is described as “Alaska’s state bird” and just industrial-strength repellent keeps it away. On top of that, there’s the climate– though Alaska is far from the huge icebox you may think of.
The state’s southernmost town, Ketchikan, rich in Native heritage, makes a quite introduction, while Sitka maintains a Russian impact. More north are fancy Juneau, the capital; Haines, with its mix of old-timers and arty newcomers; Skagway, redolent of gold-rush days; and Glacier Bay National Park, an expensive side-trip from Juneau that permeates one of Alaska’s a lot of stunning regions.
To the west, Anchorage is the state’s primary population centre and transportation center, while south of here are the stunning Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound. Interior and northern Alaska is the essential “terrific land”– a rolling plateau divided by the glacier-studded Alaska and Brooks varieties, crisscrossed by rivers and with views of imposing peaks, above all Mount McKinley, the nation’s highest– tiny Talkeetna provides fantastic views. The mountain is at the heart of Denali National forest, while to the east is the untrammelled vastness of Wrangell-St Elias National forest. Fairbanks, Alaska’s diverting second city, works as the hub of the North, with roads fanning out to warm springs and 5 hundred miles north to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay.