Equal parts surreal and otherworldly, Alaska is one of the most awe-inspiring places on the planet. The largest state in the US is a topographical dream. It features a stunning blend of over 100,000 glaciers, 3 million lakes, 17 of the highest peaks in the continent, and over 6,000 miles of coastline—culminating into a destination that gives a trip of a lifetime.
While the breathtaking array of its untouched landscapes is a sight to behold whether you view it from the air, sea, or land, booking Alaska shore excursions is the best way to maximize your experience of The Last Frontier. The people who know the land by heart designed these tour packages, allowing visitors to experience the best of what Alaska offers.
This article lists 10 things to do in Alaska that can be as fun as they are unforgettable.
Alaska’s icy waters cradle eight whale species, including humpbacks, grays, orcas, minkes, and belugas, making whale watching a can’t-miss activity when visiting Alaska. You can catch a whale-watching cruise aboard a mammal-friendly jet boat in the capital city of Juneau and observe the whales in their natural habitat. Alternatively, you can hop on a sailboat in places like Resurrection Bay, where you can get a more intimate experience of the perspective-altering animals.
While popular glaciers like the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau are more accessible to tourists, the most exhilarating way to take in the surrealism of these ice masses is via helicopter tours. The Skagway helicopter tour, for example, takes tourists on a jaw-dropping flight over rugged mountain regions, along cascading waterfalls, before landing on a glacier to experience the sheer size of these ice formations.
Glacier helicopter tours typically include a walking tour, so tourists can explore the different hues, crevasses, and ice rivers. This is another can’t-miss activity in a land teaming with them.
To see even more of Alaska’s natural gifts, you can also go on seaplane tours and fly over the calm lakes, lush mountain ranges, and sheer cliffs of Misty Fjords National Monument. These tours give you a bird’s eye view of the 2-million-acre protected wilderness area while providing the opportunity to observe bears and bald eagles in their element.
It’s not every day you can experience a land much like how it was in the 1800s. Flying over Misty Fjords gives you that unforgettable experience.
While going on a shore excursion is an excellent way to take in the many wonders of Alaska, it’s nowhere as immersive as kayaking, which brings the environs to eye level. Kayaking brings you into the midst of what makes Alaska such a phenomenal destination and lets you explore places cruise ships can’t.
It’s also much cheaper, with half-day tours going for around USD$65. Most coastal towns offer kayaking tours, making it a readily available option whenever you feel like marveling at the Alaskan outdoors.
Dog sledding is another activity that immerses you in the Alaskan wilderness, making it perfect for outdoorsy pet lovers. Most helicopter tours bundle dog sledding with their packages, allowing you to enjoy dog sledding on different terrains, including forests, glaciers, and mountains.
In addition, tour operators allot time for you to get to know each dog, making the adventure a more personal experience.
If you can afford it, enjoy the mystical experience of observing the ultimate symbol of the Alaskan backcountry. Bears’ awe-inspiring power and primality as they go about their day in the untamed wilderness is truly a sight to behold.
Most seaplane and helicopter tours have options for bear viewing. Alternatively, you can opt for walk-in tours or splurge and stay in a bear-viewing lodge overnight.
The diversity of Alaska’s topography means there’s a trail for everyone, regardless of age and skill level. From relaxing paved nature paths and forest singletrack trails to ridgeline hikes up the mountains, you have plenty of options for exploring the Alaskan outdoors on foot.
Additionally, places like Resurrection Pass and its multi-day hiking trails combine the joys of trekking and camping.
Speaking of which, Alaska also has abundant camping opportunities for novices and outdoors people. You can find a remote camping experience for total immersion into the Alaskan wilderness while hunting the elusive Northern Lights or camp close to major city centers like Anchorage to tie in the accessibility of attractions and amenities seamlessly.
With over 12,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, Alaska has more than 40% of the country’s surface waters. On top of that, the pristine state of these waters makes Alaska a prime fishing destination in the United States. You can book fishing trips, such as salmon, halibut, and Alaska trophy trout, depending on the fish you’re after.
Moreover, there are fly, spin, and fly-in fishing trips that combine sightseeing with a rewarding fishing experience.
As alluded to earlier, cruise excursions allow you to sample the best of Alaska’s offerings, letting you experience the highlights before picking specific activities to delve deeper into. Popular cruise packages depart from the following places:
- Juneau – These trips take you to the world-famous Mendenhall Glacier – the magical 2.5-mile-wide formation near the capital. Excursions from Juneau usually include historical tours, allowing guests to understand Alaska’s past and formative traditions better.
- Ketchikan – These tours feature a flight-seeing tour to the stunning Misty Fjords National Monument and its smorgasbord of natural wonders.
- Skagway – The city is a popular jump-off point for helicopter dog sledding adventures. Plus, you can go on a raft trip down the Chilkat River, riding through the preservation with the largest concentration of Bald Eagles in North America.
Top tour operators allow you to customize your cruise, enabling you to design your Alaskan adventure according to your preferences. For example, you can craft a more activity-centric tour combining hiking, biking, kayaking, and zip lining.
If you’re prospecting a trip to Alaska, you already know what’s in store. But more than any other destination, seeing, feeling, and breathing in the scope and majesty of Alaska in the flesh is an experience no cinematic 8K video can do justice to.
Alaska promises a once-in-a-lifetime trip for anyone who dares venture to America’s Last Frontier. However, it can’t promise it won’t make you eager for a return trip.