Northern Lights in Alaska

Alaska is easily one of the most beautiful and unique states you can travel to. “The Last Frontier” state is massive and has so much to offer visitors. There are breathtaking landscapes, delicious local cuisine, lots of wildlife, and the highest mountain in the country. The next time you visit Alaska, make sure you include these 10 incredible experiences in your trip itinerary! 

1. Stay in an Igloo

There are few times in your life that you’ll have the opportunity to spend a night in an igloo. That’s why this experience makes the top of our list.  Borealis Basecamp is an internationally renowned resort with modern geodesic igloos. The igloos are made of fibreglass which allows them to have a traditional igloo shape, but still offer warmth to those inside. 

You can book a cozy igloo with a transparent roof that gives you a view of the Alaskan sky. Food is available on the resort, as well as experiences such as snowmobile tours and dog-sledding. You’ll never forget this adventure for as long as you live!

Borealis Basecamp in Alaska
Via @borealisbasecamp on Instagram

2. Explore Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States. The park is home to the highest mountain in the country – Mount Denali. With over six million acres to explore, visitors can spend an entire day at the park. You can hike one of the many trails. If hiking isn’t your preferred choice, opt for one of the many other options to explore the park – such as biking, snowmobiling, or dog-sledding (a.k.a. “mushing”).

Perhaps one of the most exciting things about Denali National Park is the wildlife. The park is home to dozens of species, and if you’re lucky, you may see bears, wolves, caribou, Dall’s sheep, and more. 

Denali National Park

3. Ride the Alaska Railway

Alaska is a huge state, and it can be challenging to find the time to take in all the views the state has to offer. Luckily, the Alaska Railway is a popular solution for tourists who want to see a lot of this great state but don’t have the time for a state-wide road trip. 

The scenic Alaska Railroad goes through Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seward. Some of the more popular destinations along the route include the Denali National Park, Anchorage, Talkeetna, and the Chugach National Forest. 

The train serves food and has a full bar cart. So, sit back comfortably and enjoy the views of Alaska with a hot meal and a drink in your hand. 

Alaska Railway

4. Go Whale Watching

This is a stereotypical tourist experience for a visit to Alaska, but it’s popular for a reason. You can take a day cruise off the Alaska coast to see whales in their natural habitat. There’s something magical about watching a whale gracefully surface to the water. The Alaska waters are a hotspot for whales, and depending on where you go whale watching, you might see a beluga whale, orca, grey whale, or humpback whale. 

These cruises usually take just a few hours. The boats often have a heater on board so you can stay warm as you sail to your destination. When the captain spots a whale, they turn off the engine so everyone can get a clear view. 

A bonus is that most people end up seeing a lot of other wildlife on these cruises too! You might spot a seal in the water or a grizzly bear on the shore! 

whale in the water

5. View The Northern Lights

It’s more than likely that if you’re traveling to Alaska, you’re excited about seeing the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights are seen only above the magnetic poles of the southern and northern hemispheres. In the north, the official name for these lights is “Aurora borealis.” These lights can show up in various colors, but vibrant pink, green, and blue are most common. 

If you’re visiting Alaska between September and April, you’ll basically be guaranteed to have a clear view of the Northern Lights at night. These lights are typically most visible after midnight. Bundle up and step outside to see one of the most stunning views of your life!

the Northern Lights in Alaska

6. Walk on a Glacier

Another incredible experience to have in Alaska is walking on a glacier. You can book a guided tour that will take you on a hike over the Matanuska Glacier. The Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier accessible by car in Alaska. An enormous 27-miles long and four miles wide, this glacier is stunning in person. You can choose between the shorter tour (approximately 3 hours) or the longer trek (four hours and longer). Not an experienced hiker? Don’t worry – you don’t need any experience to do the short tour! 

Glacier walking in Alaska

7. Take a Flightseeing Tour 

One of the best ways to take in Alaska is from above. A flightseeing tour can allow you to take in the views of mountains, glaciers, and rolling forests. If you take a flightseeing tour in Talkeetna, you can fly over Mount Denali. Or, take a flightseeing tour from Soldotna or Kenai to get close to Redoubt Volcano. 

If you want to walk on a glacier but don’t want to do any hiking, combine activities six and seven on our list. You can charter a helicopter to take you straight onto a glacier that is safe to explore.

Flightseeing tour

8. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

If you love wildlife, you have to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This popular animal conservatory is located in Anchorage and maintains over 200 acres of spacious habitat. The center takes in injured or orphaned animals and cares for them. Visitors can explore the conservatory on foot, on bike, or by driving. The best part is that you’ll see the animals in their natural habitat. You might see a bear cooling off in a river or an elk munching on grass in the fields. 

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

9. Eat Local, Fresh Seafood

As you explore Alaska, you’ll have access to some fantastic restaurants. Seafood is almost always fresh and local. We recommend taking advantage of this and enjoying all the seafood you can during your visit. Kincaid Grill in Anchorage is a fantastic option for a fine dining experience. 

Kincaid Grill in Anchorage, Alaska
Via @anc_chefdrew on Instagram

10. Stay at the Chena Hot Springs Resort 

End your trip with a few nights at the Chena Hot Springs Resort. The hot springs were discovered in August 1905 and the benefits of the hot steam were immediately apparent for the cold Alaskan winters. Today, the property has turned into a comfortable resort popular with locals and tourists. Guests can relax in the natural hot springs, explore the Ice museum, and take in the Northern Lights at night. 

Chena Hot Springs
Via @chenahotsprings on Instagram

Alaska has a lot to offer visitors. You might not be able to get all 10 of these activities into one trip, but it’s just an excuse to return.