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ALASKA TRAVEL MAP
ALASKA TRAVEL GUIDE AND TRAVEL TIPS
This travel review illustrates a comprehensive journey to Alaska, going from the rain forests of the south-east, to the arctic tundra north of the arctic circle. This trip to Alaska was made in the middle of June, to take full advantage of the extra light given by the summer solstice and to avoid the busy months of July and August when there are more tourists. Travel through authentic natural wonders, experiencing brown bears (grizzly), whales, killer whales, glaciers, pristine rain forests and remote Eskimo villages.
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO IN ALASKA?
In the fantasies Alaska is often seen as an unbroken expanse of snow, very cold even in summer, where there is nothing to see or do. Fortunately this stereotype is completely wrong and to visitors fond of animals or majestic landscapes, Alaska can be one of the most beautiful and fascinating place on the planet, characterized by an incredible variety of environments and ecosystems. Dominated by a green and often impenetrable rainforest in the south and by a boundless tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Alaska is home to a variety of wildlife often observable already just outside the outskirts of cities and towns, wildlife that includes three species of bears (black bear, grizzly and polar bear), elk, moose, caribou, wolves, eagles, seals, otters and an impressive amount of killer whale and whales. The accommodation facilities, sometimes located in areas accessible only by air taxi, offer a complete isolation and a deep contact with nature, where possible excursions by various means allow observation of glaciers, icebergs, huge rivers where salmon swim upstream, virgin forests and among spectacular landscapes. The villages north of the Arctic Circle offer instead a closer contact with the native people and their interesting traditions, giving also the opportunities for a more cultural trip in Alaska.
HOW TO GET TO ALASKA?
Alaska and especially Anchorage (the biggest city of the State) is well connected to the rest of the United States, in particular to the major airports of the west coast (above of all Seattle), but also with less frequent flights to major mid-west gateways. For travelers from Europe, the most practical and less expensive route to Alaska is probably via Seattle, enjoying one of the many daily direct flights available from major European airports. From Seattle there are same-day connecting flights operated by Alaska Airlines not only to Anchorage, but also to Ketchikan, Juneau, Fairbanks and other minor towns. For those who wish to get to Anchorage from the mid-west of the United States, several airlines offer flights onto Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas and Denver. Occasionally, especially during the peak summer season, some airlines such as Condor offer non-stop flights to Anchorage from Zurich, Frankfurt or Munich at great value and impressively short travel time taking advantage of the polar route.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND IN ALASKA?
With a surface area of over 1,700,000 square kilometers, Alaska is not only the largest State of the United States, but is also one with the lowest population density and with less developed road infrastructure. At this point you're surely wondering how to move through such large distances where mother nature is the only thing that dominates. The best way to get around in Alaska depends primarily on the area you are visiting and where you are going next. In the Alaska southeast, you can move between the picturesque towns of Juneau, Gustavus, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg by plane (flights sometimes last only a few minutes) or by boat: there isn't any road network connecting these towns between them and the car can be eventually used only within each town itself. As for Anchorage and the surrounding areas, there is a good road network that makes it advisable to hire a car in order to explore the beautiful surrounding nature with peace of mind. Such road extends from Anchorage south to the fjords and north to Fairbanks via Denali National Park. We may call Fairbanks the "limit of civilization", as the only road that crosses the Arctic in Alaska, north to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, is merely a track accessible only during certain periods of the year and only by vehicles suitably equipped. Anchorage, Whittier, Seward and Fairbanks are also connected by a railway: like the road, also the railway runs along Denali National Park, where you can make an overnight stop for some pleasant excursion. The villages of the Arctic like Barrow, Kotzebue and Nome, are connected only by plane through a couple of daily flights onto Anchorage and, unless you are an intrepid traveler with a lot of experience and plenty of time, there aren't other ways in addition to the plane, to cover long distances in Alaska or to reach the most isolated villages.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ALASKA?
In absolute terms there is no best time to travel in Alaska, indeed, you will find that in order to enjoy everything that the nature has to offer, you'll have to visit Alaska several times in different periods of the year. Wanting, however, to schedule at least the first trip, you need to consider which is the main reason for your trip to Alaska and what are your interests. If you want to go to Alaska to experience the infinite daylight and the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle, the month to be chosen is undoubtedly June. Instead, if you want to observe brown bears busy in fishing, it is best to go when salmons swim up the rivers, usually in July and August depending on latitude (July in the north, August in the south). If you want to see the northern lights, the trip to Alaska should be done when the days are short enough or in any case when there are at least a few hours of darkness: between October and March, but also in September and April at latitudes around Anchorage. If you prefer to enjoy the short winter days, December and January are the best months offering beautiful colors of the sky. For the rest of the activities, such as hiking or cruising among glaciers and icebergs or for whale watching, the best time is the summer between late May and early September, when the weather is more comfortable and guided tours are run on a daily basis.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN ALASKA?
Being able to see all the sights that Alaska has to offer may require several weeks of travel, and as only few people can afford very long trips, you will find below the main attractions that shouldn't be missed from any holiday to Alaska.
and if you have more time....
ALASKA PICTURES BY AREA
|<<-- GO Juneau, the Alaska's capital, is the ideal base from where short or longer tours to Alaska Southeast can be organized.|
|<<-- GO Gustavus, in Alaska Southeast, is a small community in the middle of a rainforest, part of Tongass National Forest, from where many tours and excursions are available.|
|<<-- GO Glacier Bay is a deep fjord with many smaller branches, where several glaciers flow from different ice fields, straight into the Pacific Ocean.|
|<<-- GO Barrow, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, is the Alaska and USA last frontier, the northernmost village of the country, several hundreds miles north of the Arctic Circle.|
|<<-- GO Near the Bering Strait and just north of the Arctic Circle, these small communities still live on traditions, in a place far away from the civilization.|
|<<-- GO Nome, just south of the Arctic Circle, on the Bering sea, is known for the gold rush during the last century and to be the end point of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.|
|<<-- GO Katmai National Park has a huge concentration of brown bears (grizzly) and is a paradise because of the beautiful landscape, made of volcanoes, lakes, rivers and endless forests.|
|<<-- GO Anchorage is the Alaska's biggest city and, from here, many tours leave to the natural wonders all around, like glaciers, forests and fjords where whales and killer whales can be found.|