Lifestyle & Travel
Nov 30, 2015
When we think of Alaska many images may come to mind. Endless landscapes of wilderness, breathtaking views of glaciers, fjords and wild animals wondering around. Alaska is a place of many wonders and many more secrets.
Alaska is a giant natural park. A perfect display of green and blue intertwined with the snow's white and patched with brown and dark gray from the rocks.
Visiting Alaska can be demanding for every tourist, but every year during summer, thousands flock to look at the incredible places the 48th State has to offer.
Known throughout Alaska as the "Salmon Capital of the World", Ketchikan is one of the earliest towns in the state. The whole town expanded around Ketchikan Creek, a course of water which harbours a huge number of salmons every year and has become a symbol of the salmon industry in the region. You can visit the towns historic neighbourhoods built on stilts in Water Street and Creek Street, which are a postcard of Ketchikan.
Close to the harbour you can find a growing commercial area, with clothes shops, delightful cafés, restaurants and terraces that overlook the marina. Take a chance to enjoy locally roasted coffee at any of the small street bars, find more about the ancient cultures who inhabit the region and their art at the Totem Heritage Center
Alaska's capital is a city of many interesting facts. The most curious might be that there are no roads to Juneau. Being enclosed in the middle of huge mountains doesn't help road building efforts. So, the local population of Alaska had to make due with all other options: sea and air. Juneau has become a thriving port for cruise and cargo ships, as well as base for numerous hydroplanes responsible for regular connections between alaskan towns and cities.
Besides Juneau's breathaking views from atop Mount Robert's – where you can visit a wildlife santuary for injured animals or hike around the mountai – the tourist has to take a look at Mendenhall Glacier, just outside the city. The glacier and the fjord where it stands create a stunning landscape which will marvel even the most seasoned traveller.
The amount of wild life which lives close to the people in Juneau is remarkable. While walking around the forests around the city you can expect to watch grizzly bears, bald eagles, moose, reindeer and crows.
Immersed between mountains, at the end of the legendary White Pass to Klondike, Skagway owes its birth to the 1898 Gold Rush, which brought thousands of people from the USA and Canada to these parts in search of the precious metal. Fortunes were made, lives were lost and with the end of the rush, a few years later, Skagway is the only remaining "boomtown".
Now Skagway is the door to many discoveries. You can ride on the only remaining steam train in Alaska, The White-Pass & Yukon Route, a remnant from the bygone era of the gold rush or drive to historic Dyea, one of the state's last "ghost towns". If you're more of a nature lover, the mountain trails around Skagway can show you a lot of surprises.
Back to town, entertain yourself at some of the fashion and jewellry shops – open only during summer – or grab a bit of the local experience at one of the two bars in Skagway. Curious fact: during the long alaskan winter one bar opens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the other one opens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, to serve the small population of about 600 people.
Glacier Bay and College Fjord
These two stunning locations are Alaska's landscape crown jewels. If you can rent a boat or do a cruise to these sites it's certain you'll be amazed at how nature has worked.
In Glacier Bay you can look at the mouth of Marjorie – the longest glacier en North America melts into the pristine waters of the fjord, side by side with Pacific Glacier, the bigest dark glacier in the world.
At College Fjord, find "the largest collection of glaciers" in the globe, where no less than seven rivers of ice can be seen. Each has the name of an american university, hence the name.
Alaska has many more to see and experience. From mountains to islands, from lakes to glaciers, this is a trully wild place which deserves a visit.