Glaciers, vintage autos, train excursions are among the highlights
Incredible scenery lures millions of tourists to Alaska each year, and people visiting The Last Frontier have a variety of attractions they can view and experience:
Look at the Polar Bears
About 200,000 people a year travel to Anchorage to visit the Alaska Zoo, which houses more than 100 native animals and birds as well as flora that grows wild in the state. Animals include golden eagles, gray wolves, polar bears and yaks, and the zoo specializes in research, animal rehabilitation and wildlife conservation.
Gaze at the Glacier
Visit the state capital of Juneau and experience a guided tour of Mendenhall Glacier, which stretches for 13.6 miles along the city’s Mendenhall Valley. Programs throughout the year are scheduled for adults and children, with about 500,000 tourists entertained each year. Along the glacier’s guided tours are black bears, mountain goats, salmon and wolves.
Drive to Fairbanks
Take a 90-minute tour at Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, which is billed as the best attraction in Fairbanks. The site offers an entertaining history of the automobile in Alaska and features 85 vehicles that date from 1898 to 1938, including hard-to-find models like an Argonne, Compound, Sheldon and a Stanhope Phaeton.
Ride the Rails
Nearly 400,000 passengers a year ride the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, a popular tourism attraction that operates along 67.5 miles of track from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon. The train climbs 3,000 feet along the way, and riders in vintage railcars see mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, tunnels and gorges.
See the Splendor
Open from mid-May to mid-September, the Denali Visitor Center is an ideal way to begin a visit to Denali National Park & Preserve, arguably the most beautiful national park in America. The center presents a 20-minute film, then tourists can go visit attractions like multiple hiking trails and Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak.
Touch a Sea Star
On the shores of Resurrection Bay in Seward is the Alaska SeaLife Center, a large public aquarium and the state’s only marine mammal rehabilitation facility. The center has more than 100 full-time employees, and public exhibits include a touch tank for sea stars and urchins, and a two-story diving pool for seabirds.
Marvel at Kodiak Refuge
More than 2,000 brown bears and 1,000 bald eagles inhabit Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which also contains seven rivers and 100 streams to fish for salmon and steelhead. Visitors can take guided tours to view animals like river otters, ermine and reindeer, and other attractions include small glaciers.
Admire the Foliage
The Alaska Botanical Garden features 110 acres of beauty that includes a rock garden, herb garden and wildflower walk. The Anchorage destination is open year round with more than 1,000 varieties of plants that grow well in south-central Alaska. The gardens are completely outdoors, and visitors are still welcome during the snowy winters.