Denali National park visiting alaska must see

Is Alaska worth visiting? Here are my Top 5 Experiences in Alaska

“Is Alaska worth visiting?” After spending 22 days in the Last Frontier, I can safely say that visiting Alaska was the most fantastic thing I have ever done. Yes, the mere fact I could spend this long roaming across the 49th state added to the fondness.

However, the pure beauty and uniqueness of the state is the real reason it has quickly risen to the top of my favorite states. So, if you’re still questioning, “Is Alaska worth visiting?” a trip here will unequivocally answer that forever.

Inside, we’ll dive into the best places to visit in Alaska and why you should too. Additionally, if you’re planning a trip to Alaska, there’s much to figure out. Plan months ahead and know that the weather can change on a dime. I have a complete write-up on what to pack for Alaska. Make sure to give that a read.

Is Alaska worth visiting?

Let’s jump right to it. Is Alaska worth visiting? Yes. Yes. One hundred times, yes. This state is brilliant and blows your socks off at every turn. So, if you’re asking, ‘Is Alaska worth visiting,’ you need to book a flight right now and see for yourself.

The people are genuine. The scenery is exquisite. And the wildlife is stunning.

Visiting Alaska – My favorite places on our 22-day trip across Alaska

Flight around Denali

We booked a flight with Talkeetna Air for a flightseeing tour inside Denali National Park. They have four flight lengths, and we took the third-longest, which circumnavigates Denali. We also landed on a glacier, the icing on the cake, for the most jaw-dropping experience of my life.

After a weekend of rain, the clouds parted as if Moses was standing in front, and we had the entire Alaskan Range and Denali herself visible. This made the flight impeccable, and it is one of Alaska’s best places to visit.

Denali Flightseeing Visiting Alaska must do
Denali Flightseeing Visiting Alaska must do planning a trip to alaska
Denali Basecamp Alaska best places to visit in alaska
Denali Flightseeing Visiting Alaska Talkeetna Air best places to visit in alaska
Alaskan Range flightseeing denali  planning a trip to alaska
Denali Flightseeing Visiting Alaska must do best places to visit in alaska

It’s hard to describe what it was like to fly amongst the jagged peaks of the Alaskan Range and then see the 20,310-foot Denali appear, looking like a giant amongst tiny humans. About halfway through it, we flew over Denali’s Base Camp and saw climbers hiking into BC and out of it.

Overall, it was the trip’s highlight, and I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Alaska (also because it’s so hard to see all of Denali National Park that flying over it is a good use of time).

So why is Alaska worth visiting? Delicious Fresh Seafood

It. Was. So. Good. Coming from Arizona, we don’t get fresh seafood… ever, so this was a big highlight of the trip.

Overall, I had salmon, halibut, shrimp, scallops, and everything else you can think of. And my god, it was delicious. While it’s a bit expensive, it’s worth it as an experience. Ray’s in Seward and Captain Patties in Homer are two places I’d recommend for the best places to visit in Alaska for fresh seafood.

Is Alaska worth visiting? It is when I can add 4 National Parks to my list

My goal in life is to visit every National Park in America. While the list keeps growing, setting foot in four more parks was phenomenal. The four we knocked off were Denali, Lake Clark, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell St. Elias.

All are so vast that it almost seems like cheating to say you “saw” them when visiting Alaska. But we did as much as we could have hoped for this trip, which is another massive reason Alaska is worth visiting. In the future, these are the best places to visit in Alaska, and I can’t wait to return.

For those planning a trip to Alaska, my unofficial ranking would probably be 1) Denali, 2) Kenai Fjords, 3) Wrangell St. Elias* 4) Lake Clark**

*  We weren’t treated to the best weather in Wrangell, and our flightseeing trip around the park would have been 10x better if we’d been able to see the sky/mountain tops.

** We saw 0.3% of the park as we only flew in for a bear-watching tour. I’m SURE this place will rank higher once we go back and explore more of it.

Bear watching alaska lake clark best places to visit in alaska
Lake Clark National Park
Wrangell St. Elias National Park Alaska McCarthy planning a trip to alaska
Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park Visiting Alaska best places to visit in alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park
Denali National park visiting alaska must see
Denali National Park

Related: Considering traveling to Juneau. Read this.

Being in the wild

Less than three-quarters of a million people live in Alaska, meaning there’s a lot of empty space. So it can be a bit eery to think about. However, it’s also incredibly freeing. The two best parts about ‘being in the wild’ were when we drove the 135-mile Denali State Highway, which cuts across the state just south of Denali National Park.

Related: See photos from the Denail Highway

Nothing is out there, allowing the stunning scenery to show off without distractions. We also did the 60-mile dirt road into McCarthy, which weaves through the beautiful Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

While we didn’t see as many animals as we had hoped, we did see moose, beavers, a wolf, and a porcupine. (Okay, I’ll be honest, we just wanted to see some bears.) These drives in the wild with no one else around us were surreal moments we’ll never forget.

Not every rental car company will let you drive the Denali Highway when planning a trip to Alaska. So double-check before buying, and maybe use Turo. However, try to make it happen as this was a highlight and undoubtedly one of the reasons Alaska is worth visiting.

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Denali State Highway
is alaska worth visiting
is alaska worth visiting
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Road to McCarthy
Wrangell St. Elias National Park Alaska McCarthy planning a trip to alaska
Road to McCarthy

No true darkness

One of those things that are hard to conceptualize until you’re there. When we arrived in mid-May, it still got a bit ‘dusky’ around 2 am, but by the time we left in the first week of June, there was plenty of light in the sky. There was no need for headlamps (why did I think we’d need them?), and eye masks were a lifesaver. Because of these long days, we adventured late into the night clock.

Most of the time, we’d roll into our campsite or hotel at around 11 pm, quickly set up our tent, and then go to bed. This is one of the joys of visiting Alaska in the summer. You have all this time to explore and should do your best to maximize your time here.

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Shot around midnight in Seward
best places to visit in alaska
Shot out of the plane at 12:30 am on our flight out.

FAQ: Is Alaska worth visiting?

How many days are enough to visit Alaska?

You should aim for 10-20 days to visit Alaska. I know that’s hard for some people, but it’s an incredibly large state, and it takes time to see the different places without feeling rushed. At a minimum, try to fly out on a Friday afterward and get back sometime the following Sunday for a nice nine-day trip!

Why do people want to visit Alaska?

People want to visit Alaska because it is so unique compared to the Lower 48. It’s sort of like Wyoming, but way bigger and isn’t landlocked! Everyone should visit Alaska in their lifetime.

What is Alaska popular for?

Alaska is popular for seafood, stunning views, wildlife, long summer days (and cold winter nights), long drives, and so much more. Alaska offers so much, which is why the best time to visit Alaska is in the summer, so you can maximize your time there!

What month is best to see northern lights in Alaska?

You need dark skies to see the northern lights. So, ideally, you need true darkness by 11 pm or so, which means you have to wait until September or October in Alaska to have the best chances at the northern lights. Many would say January would be the best time, but that’s when it’s the coldest.

Wrapping up – Is Alaska worth visiting?

As you can see above, Alaska is totally worth visiting and will be one of the highlights of your adventure travel for the rest of your life. So stop asking, “Is Alaska worth visiting” and just book those flights!

You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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