Where to begin to talk about Alaska? The “Last Frontier State” is as geographically diverse as anywhere in the other 49 states. So much more than just an answer to a trivia question — Alaska, not Texas or California, is the largest state by far judging by landmass — the northernmost state contains a veritable wonderland of natural and historical wonders.
To make this point crystal clear, Alaska has been inhabited by Indigenous people for a millennia. It actually is the site of what many historians believe to be the very earliest settling of North America through human migration thousands of years ago across the Bering Land Bridge.
Even though it was the second to last state admitted to the U.S. in 1959, its history stretches back to the beginning of human life on the North American continent.
It should come as no surprise that in a state as vast as Alaska, there are numerous must-see destinations for adventure seekers and history buffs alike!
Below are some of those can’t-miss spots:
Denali State Park: Named for surrounding and encompassing the region’s most famous landmark — North America’s highest peak, the mighty mountain Denali — this state park routinely tops lists for the wild at heart, seeking adventure in the great white north. Boasting over 300,000 acres, roughly half the size of Rhode Island, this park has something for everyone. Primary activities include hiking, climbing, and exploring, although camping is also popular for visitors to the impressive mountain range. However, it is strongly advised that campers, hikers, and explorers take great care within the park’s boundaries. The area is still a largely unspoiled wilderness fraught with treacherous cliffs, abundant wildlife, and fast-running rivers. This adventure isn’t for the faint of heart but for all brave enough to test their will against the Alaskan wilderness.
Chugach State Park: One of the four largest state parks in all of the U.S., Chugach encompasses some 450,000 acres of Alaskan land. This site also holds most of the western range of the majestic Chugach Mountain Range, whose highest peaks rise more than 8,000 feet above sea level. There is almost anything an outdoors-lover can do here at this Alaskan gem. Visitors can hike, bike, take photos, hunt, fish, berry-pick, rock and ice climb, hang glide, and boat right here in this expansive, bountiful destination.
Shuyak Island State Park: This park is one of the most unique to be found anywhere in North America for one particular reason: it contains only one species of tree, the Sitka Spruce. Nearly 50,000 acres make up this island, part of the Kodiak Archipelago forest system, and its terrain is as unique and inviting as it is rugged. Indeed, this site is for the most self-sufficient adventurers, as there is only wilderness far from the conveniences and support of the modern world. But, for the careful planner hungry to see and experience its beauty firsthand, there may be no better destination than this untouched Alaskan backcountry.