Rare Alaska Attractions Unlike Anywhere Else On Earth
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Unique Alaska attractions are unlike anywhere else in the world. You can live in the last frontier your whole life and never see all of the magnificent attractions that largest state in the unique has to offer. As the old saying goes, “bigger is better” and although we may be a little bias, it’s hard to debate when the proof is all around us. From the world’s largest ZipRider, underground permafrost caves, to icy blue glacial caves, and the nation’s largest temperate rain-forest. Whether it’s a magnificent man-made treasure or an unbelievable natural wonder, these places are undoubtedly wow-worthy.
After each town name is a blue title with clickable link – so feel free to give them a “tap” and learn a little something special about what each and every one has to offer.
Flickr – Joseph
1: Willow, Alaska – The Remakably Rare Story Of The Whimsical Goose Creek Tower
YouTube – Serenity Firefly
Goose Creek Tower is tucked away in the dense Alaskan wilderness, north of Willow and south of Talkeetna. Owned by Anchorage based attorney, Phillip Weidner, the idea behind this popular private home was something that he dreamt up himself. The eccentric yet fascinating plan came straight from his head. The whimsical structure is 185 feet high, although, if it wasn’t for Federal Air Space starting at 200 feet above ground, it may have been built even higher.
2: Juneau, Alaska – Explore Mendenhall Ice Caves For a Surreal Glacier Experience
Flickr – arctic_council
Juneau is situated at the base of the 3,819-foot Mount Roberts on Alaska’s Inside Passage. The 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States, covers the coastal mountain sides in Juneau’s isolated locale. While there are lots of exceptional activities for visitors to enjoy right inside the city limits, one of the most popular off-the-beaten-path attractions is a trek to the Mendenhall Ice Caves.
3: Bering Strait, Alaska – The Isolated Places Where You Can Actually View Russian From Your Doorstep
Wikipedia- United States Coast Guard
Russia and Alaska are divided from one another by the Bering Strait, which is located in the Pacific Ocean and bordered by the Chukchi Sea to the north and the Bering Sea to the south. At its narrowest point, the Bering Strait is only 53 miles wide, making it easy for the neighboring countries of Russia and the United States to observe each other. In the extremely isolated Western Alaska communities of Little Diomede, Wales, and the St. Lawrence Island village of Gambell, a clear day presents residents with the uncanny ability to view the Russian territory of Siberia.
4: Fairbanks, Alaska – Frozen Underground Permafrost Tunnel That’s Hiding In Plain Sight
Flickr – Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright
Alaska’s frozen underground permafrost tunnel is quite the sight to see. The tunnel runs through permafrost, a natural frozen phenomenon hiding under the surface of the ground, and brings it into plain sight.
5: Prince of Wales Island, – Visit El Capitan, Alaska’s Largest Above-Ground Cave For An Enchanting Middle-Earth Experience
Flickr – Gary O. Grimm
Head to Prince of Wales Island in the breathtaking southeast region of Alaska, and experience an incredible Alaska cave, El Capitan, the largest known above-ground cave in the Last Frontier. The island itself boasts over 600 caves, all varying in size, with El Capitan being the largest and most recognized of them all. A wooden staircase through the lush Tongass National Forest leads to the cave’s entrance. This middle-earth experience is filled with an abundant amount of natural history and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
6: Soldotna, Alaska – This Tiny Chapel Might Just Be The Most Unique In The World
This tiny Alaska chapel proves that sometimes (even in the largest state in the nation), bigger isn’t always better. Located on Alaska’s magnificent Kenai Peninsula, is this tiny little church off the side of the Kenai Spur Highway. Inside you’ll (physically) find nothing more than three church pews with enough bibles to go around. But spiritually, visitors here are quick to realize that there is so much more than what first meets the eye.
7: Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska – This Campsite Named Most Beautiful In America
Alaska campsites are known for standing out from the crowd. It’s a priceless feeling to be submerged in nature—away from the crowds and off the grid—surrounded by utter peace and quiet. Not only is “unplugging” good for reviving your mind and relaxing your soul, but it’s almost criminal not to take time out of your hectic life to soak in the remote landscapes of the Last Frontier. As you begin piecing together your summertime bucket list, consider adding a few nights underneath the stars in one of America’s most magnificent campgrounds: Bartlett Cove.
8: Admirality Island, Alaska – Home To North America’s Highest Density Of Brown Bears
Flickr – USDA Forest Service Alaska Region
Probably the most alarming factoid about Admiralty Island is that around 10% of Alaska’s population of brown bears inhabits the island, and with almost one bear per square mile, it has the highest density of brown bears in North America. The island is home to a population of roughly 650 residents, of which the brown bears outnumber the humans by a near three to one ratio. With abundant wildlife, rich natural resources, and undeniable amounts of cultural charm, Admiralty Island attracts visitors from all around the world each year.
9: Hoonah, Alaska – Breathtaking Coastal Charm & Home To The World’s Largest ZipRider
Hoonah is on the coastal route of the Inside Passage, and surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. This idyllic rural community is pressed against a scenic marine and mountainous backdrop, sure to captivate anyone who enjoys beautiful wilderness settings, away from the crowds. While there are only 800 residents in Hoonah, the small town surely isn’t lacking when it comes to wow-factor. To get the most exciting thrill of your life, all you need to do is head to the world’s largest ZipRider at Icy Strait Point.
10: Homer, Alaska – Magnificient Scenery Inside Alaska’s First State Park – Kachemak Bay
Flickr – Brian
Kachemak Bay State Park is located on the scenic Kenai Peninsula, which has been known as Alaska’s playground. Not only is this cherished 400,000 acre area Alaska’s first state park, but it is also the only official wilderness park in the Last Frontier. Visitors who make the journey to this remote park will be in the midst of snow-capped mountains, glistening glaciers, and precious land and marine wildlife. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you won’t be able to get enough of the vast trail system, saltwater fishing, and endless camping spots featuring utterly breathtaking views.
Do you have any fond memories visiting these unique Alaska attractions or other ones we left off the list?
Flickr – Andrew Petersen
Looking for another great read? Check out these 9 creepy & abandoned Alaska life places + stories that’ll make you cringe. If you love Alaska’s idyllic charm, check out these 11 charming Alaska small towns that’ll leave you wanting more. Buckle up and prepare to enjoy: Road-Trippin’ Alaska; Your perfect way to escape the crowds in 2020. Also, for all those mastering the art of “social distancing” you’ll enjoy America’s least-visited National Park located right here in Alaska.
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Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
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