Best Places to Visit in Alaska
Alaska is considered a top vacation destination for millions of people, and for good reason. With 17 of the tallest peaks in North America, over 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, over 100,000 glaciers, almost 98% of the country’s brown bear population, and the lowest population density in the country, Alaska is a dream for nature buffs. Since Alaska is the biggest state in the country, it can be hard to know where to start when wanting to explore the nature that Alaska has to offer. We’re here to help! This list of the best places to visit in Alaska will give you the perfect starting point to plan the ultimate Alaskan adventure!
Our list of the best places to visit in Alaska is comprised of 41 nationally and locally recognized landmarks:
- 8 National Parks
- 8 State Parks
- 2 National Forests
- 2 National Historic Parks
- 2 National Monuments
- 16 National Wildlife Refuges
- 3 National Preserves
If your goal is to explore the best places in Alaska that are rich in nature, animals, and diversity, then this list has it all! And if you want a fun way to keep track of your Alaskan adventures, check out our Explore Alaska Bucket List Board! The board includes 41 labeled pieces on a beautiful hardwood map of Alaska. Each of the nationally and locally recognized landmarks are labeled on the pieces, so every time you get the chance to explore one of the landmarks, you can put the piece into its place and proudly display your adventures!
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir
Below you’ll find a detailed list of all 41 nationally and locally recognized landmarks in Alaska that are part of our list for the best places to visit in Alaska. Many of these will require you to travel off the beaten path, so if you love exploring the unknown and remote corners of the world, you’re going to love this list!
Alaska National Parks
Kenai Fjords National Park:
Kenai Fjords NP is open year round. It is accessible during the summer by car, train, plane, or boat. During the winter months, it can be accessed by plane or boat. Here you can see over 40 glaciers joining land to ocean.
Kobuk Valley National Park:
Kubuk Valley NP is best known for its caribou and the Kobuk River. The park is open year round, but it’s only accessibly by plane, as it’s very remote.
Denali National Park & Preserve:
Denali NP (also a State Park) is open year round. There’s only one road that goes into and through the park that’s accessible by car during the summer months. You can also access the park by train (during the summer), or by plane during the winter. The park was created to protect Dall sheep, and is also home to Denali, North America’s tallest mountain.
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Glacier Bay NP has a little bit of everything, from glaciers, wildlife, and mountains. Its 3.3 million acres is one of the largest internationally protected areas. The park is open year round, but can only be reached by plane or boat.
Katmai National Park & Preserve
Katmai NP was created to protect land that was devastated by volcanic activity. It’s an important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears. The park is open year round, but can only be reached by plane or boat.
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve:
Lake Clark NP is open year round, but only accessibly by plane or boat. The park is remote and undeveloped, and is rich in cultural history
Wrangell-St Elias National Park & Preserve:
Wrangell-St Elias NP is the largest national park in America. The park is so big that it’s been divided into 5 areas to help visitors plan their travels more easily. There are only 2 unpaved roads that enter the park. Otherwise access is limited to boats and planes.
Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve:
Gates of the Arctic NP does not have any roads, and is only accessible by boat or plane. The park was created to protect 8.4 million acres of the arctic ecosystem.
Alaska State Parks
Denali State Park:
Denali SP is bordered on the west by Denali National Park. The park is one of the best places in Alaska for outdoor recreational activities, such as kayaking, fishing, camping, or hiking. The park is accessibly by car during the summer months.
Chugach State park:
Chugach SP is one of the 4 largest state parks in the US. The park was created to protect the mountains above Anchorage from further city developments. It’s accessible by car and full of opportunity for outdoor activities.
Kachemak Bay State Park:
Kachemak Bay SP was the first State Park in Alaska. It’s an important habitat area, and full of opportunity for outdoor activities.
Wood-Tikchik State Park:
Wood-Tikchik SP is the largest state park in the US. The park is only accessibly by boat, plane, snowmobiles or foot.
Afognak Island State Park:
Afognak Island SP is only accessibly by boat or plane. The roads on the island are closed to motorized vehicles, but open for hiking or biking.
Shuyak Island State Park:
Shuyak Island SP is just north of Afognak Island. The island is only accessibly by boat or plane.
Chilkat State Park:
Chilkat SP is accessible by car. The park has 35 designated campsites, and 3 main trails.
Point Bridget State Park:
Point Bridget SP is located 40 miles north of Juneau. The park is accessibly by car and has 3 cabins and a few designated picnic areas.
Alaska National Forests
Chugach National Forest
Chugach NF covers an area of over 5 million acres. It can easily be accessed from many different access points.
Tongass National Forest
Tongass NF is the largest national forest in the US, with over 17 million acres. Much of the forest is remote and unexplored. It can only be accessed by boat or plane.
Alaska National Historical Parks
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Klondike Gold Rush NHP will give you a look into the history of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. The Park is accessible by car and is open year round.
Sitka National Historical Park
The Sitka NHP preserves the site of a battle between invading Russian traders and indigenous Tlingit. The park is located in downtown Sitka, which is only accessible by car or boat.
Alaska National Monuments
Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve
Aniakchak NM is one of the most remote, and least visited places in the Alaska national parks system. It houses a 6 mile wide caldera that was formed during a volcanic eruption over 3000 years ago. It is only accessible by plane or experienced backpackers.
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Cape Krusenstern NM is another very remote Alaskan destination. It is bordered by the arctic ocean and Chukchi sea. It is only accessible by plane.
Alaska National Wildlife Refuges
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge:
The Alaska Maritime NWR provides an essential home to millions of marine animals and more than 40 million seabirds. All of the wildlife refuges are open to the public, with no fees or designated entry points.
Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge:
The Alaska Peninsula NWR is made up of volcanoes, mountains, steep cliffs, and coastal shorelines. It is only accessible by boat, plane, or experienced backpackers. There are no roads in the refuge, but there are many recreational opportunities.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
The Arctic NWR is located in the northeastern corner of Alaska. The refuge has no roads or facilities, and is only accessible by plane.
Becharof National Wildlife Refuge:
The Becharof NWR includes the largest lake in the refuge system, and has one of Bristol Bay’s largest salmon runs. The refuge is only accessibly by plane or boat.
Innoko National Wildlife Refuge:
The Innoko NWR was created to protect one of the largest waterfowl habitat areas in Alaska. It is only accessible by plane or boat through the Innoko River.
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge:
The Izembek NWR is the smallest refuge in the US, but is hugely important to hundreds of species of migratory birds and animals. The refuge is only accessible by boat or plane.
Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge:
The Kanuti NWR straddles the arctic circle, and is a very remote refuge. It is only accessible by boat or plane.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge:
The Kenai NWR is known for its larger animals, such as moose, bear, lynx, and wolves, and is also famous for its sports fishing in the Kenai river. It’s the most visited refuge in Alaska, and is only accessible by boat or plane.
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge:
The Kodiak NWR is located on the small island of Kodiak. It was created to protect Kodiac bears and their habitat. It is only accessible by boat or plane.
Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge:
The Koyukik NWR is considered unique because it includes the Nogahabara Sand Dunes. The refuge is only accessible by plane or river boat.
Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge:
The Nowitna NWR and the Nowitna River are an important home to thousands of migratory birds. The refuge is only accessible by plane or river boat.
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge:
The Selawik NWR is in a remote corner of northwestern Alaska. One of the most visited parts of the refuge is the Selawik Hot Springs, located at the head of the Selawik River. The refuge is only accessible by plane.
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge:
The Tetlin NWR is bordered by 65 miles of the Alaska Highway, which makes it easily accessible by car. The refuge includes 3 cabins that are only accessible by boat or plane. There are also designated campgrounds available within the refuge.
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge:
The Togiak NWR is considered one of Alaska’s “fishiest” refuges, with several large river and lake systems within it. It is only accessible by plane or boat.
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge:
The Yukon Delta NWR was created to protect the wildlife between the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. It is only accessible by boat or plane.
Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge:
The Yukon Flats NWR provides a critical waterfowl breeding ground for millions of birds and fish. 7 villages are located within or near the refuge, most of which are only accessible by boat or plane.
Alaska National Preserves
Noatak National Preserve:
The Noatak National Preserve includes the Noatak River, which offers unique float trips for viewing the wildlife and scenery. With no roads or public facilities on the preserve, it is only accessible by plane.
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve:
The Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve is located in interior Alaska, and is very remote and untouched. It offers unique float trips down the Yukon and Charley Rivers. The preserve is only accessible by plane or river boat.
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve:
The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is a very remote national park unit that was created to protect the landscape and the history of human migration between Asia and North America. The preserve is only accessible by plane.
Make Your Alaskan Travel Dreams a Reality
Most of Alaska is untouched and unexplored. The beauty of its unknown lands are begging you to discover them! With this list of the best places to visit in Alaska, you’re read to turn your dreams into real plans. Whether it takes you one summer, 10 years, or a lifetime to explore every location on this list, it’s a bucket list that will leave you inspired, speechless, and in awe at the beauty that Alaska has to offer.
Don’t forget to track your experiences with our Explore Alaska Bucket List Board. The board includes all 41 of the best places to visit in Alaska listed above, so you can track your progress, and proudly display your Alaskan adventures!
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Looking for another adventure? Here at Whake Studios we’re passionate about supporting people in exploring the beautiful world around them! Check out our US National Parks Bucket List Board, or our guide to visiting all of the lighthouses in Maine! Whatever adventure you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered!