The largest state in the United States, Alaska features a thinly populated terrain of immense natural beauty with three million lakes, more than 3,000 rivers, 100,000 glaciers, 17 of the country’s 20 highest peaks as well as 15 national parks and preserves. Alaska is actually one of the wealthiest, priciest and most racially diverse states in the US.
Alaska’s past was shaped by gold diggers, trailblazers and dreamers who braved the harsh elements to lay claim to their share of fortune. With vast open plains inhabited by roughly one person per square mile, this is a destination where claustrophobics will have a field day. In the state’s very northern region, the summer lasts for three months without a single sunset, while winter is a two-month black night that will have you craving the solarium.
The short summer restricts the types of crops that can be grown; main crops are potatoes, carrots, cabbage and lettuce. Despite this, the long-lasting summer days can help these vegetables reach record size. Alaska has seafood in great abundance, such as the popular king crab renowned around the globe. A delectable example of traditional native fare is Akutaq, or Eskimo ice cream, which consists of dried fish meat, seal oil, reindeer fat and local berries.
Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city, is both a well-liked tourist spot and the hub of the region’s commerce and transportation. Visitors can check out several local wildlife and historical museums as well as Earthquake Park and the stunning alpine Chugach State Park, while at Girdwood’s Crow Creek Mine, south of Anchorage, you can try your luck at panning for gold nuggets if you find yourself short on funds – or looking for a unique experience.
Alaska’s second-largest city is Fairbanks, located at the northern tip of the Alaska highway. Highlights range from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum to the Alaskaland Theme Park. Between mid-May and July, visitors can participate in a wealth of activities outside given there are over 20 hours of sunlight per day at this time. In the winter, the city hosts world-class sled-dog races and glistening ice-sculpting competitions. The major pull, though, is the aurora borealis that lights the northern skies which can be best marvelled at between December and March.