Despite having earned the nickname ‘The Forgotten State’, Alaska is certainly worth a visit. To break down these misconceptions, here are our top tips for visiting Alaska. Full of rich culture and some of the world’s most epic scenery, don’t let its misnomer put you off!
Learn about Alaska’s native culture
Alaska Natives, or Athabascan Indians, make up approximately 16% of the state’s population. Historically, the Athabascans moved around the state following the seasons and the fish and game that came with it. You’ll spot famous landmarks with traditional names – like Denali, meaning the Great One – see totem poles along the southeast coast, and find locally made arts and crafts throughout your travels.
Choose your season wisely
Your season of choice all depends on what you want to see and do in Alaska. Winter is extremely cold but brings about the world-famous Iditarod dog sled race and winter festivals; spring and summer show off with an abundance of marine animals and wildlife; and autumn is a wonderful mix of fiery colours as the leaves turn. Autumn through to the tail end of winter is also the best time of year to see the dancing colours of the Northern Lights.
Even if you’re visiting Alaska in summer, layers are an essential packing item! Different regions vary in temperature and weather, and unpredictable rain showers are often on the cards. Don’t forget to also pack sturdy footwear, as the best way to see Alaska is to be outdoors.
Book in advance
Since there is never a ‘best’ season to visit, Alaska tends to be popular all year round. Make sure to book your tours, airfares and activities well in advance to avoid disappointment!
Keep your souvenirs local
In an effort to give back to the community, we recommend keeping all of your souvenir purchases local. You can find a wide variety of Alaska Native artwork and handcrafts that make great gifts for friends, family and yourself! Keep an eye out for stickers that state that the item is ‘Alaska Grown’ or ‘Made in Alaska’.
Pack insect repellent
Mosquitoes are the most widespread insect in Alaska thanks to its swampy tundra and lakes. There are a whopping 35 different species of this critter so insect repellent is a must – particularly if travelling from spring to autumn.
See Alaska by sea and land
With such a vast distance to cover and different types of scenery, we recommend exploring Alaska by sea and land. Cruising through places like the Inside Passage make for phenomenal views of glaciers, fjords and marine life; while travelling on land (by train, coach or car) affords breath taking mountains and wildlife.
Restaurants close early
Bear in mind that most restaurants close around 8pm so make sure you do your research first!
Pack an eye mask if visiting in summer
Thanks to Alaska’s Midnight Sun in its summer months, the state gets the most sunlight in the entirety of the USA! If you’re exploring the most northern regions, the sun doesn’t set for over 2.5 months so an eye mask will be your best friend when going to sleep.