All the picture-perfect proof you need to buckle up & travel Alaska in 2020
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
It’s hard to imagine a better place to master the art of social distancing than Alaska. With the current state of the world in a disarray over traveling, people are staying home and opting out of their anticipated adventures for 2020 to play it safe. If you’re in Alaska or have the ability to access the state, road-tripping is one of the best ways to get an overload of scenic natural beauty and mind-blowing wildlife encounters. With many restaurants + lodging establishments temporarily closed or operating on limited resources, we’d recommend planning ahead & getting creative.
Pack a cooler filled with goodies, perishables and non-perishables for easy grab-and-go snacks along the way. Pull off the side of the Denali Highway and enjoy a campfire dinner while soaking in a majestic alpenglow with North America’s highest mountain peak in the distance. Can you imagine an impromptu picnic lunch off the Seward Highway while you feast your eyes on the sights of both Dall sheep to the left and breathtaking beluga whales swimming in the Turnagain Arm to the right? Oh, the list goes on and on! Below we will remind you with just 25 rare and magical moments, that Alaska truly is the best place to travel throughout 2020 (and beyond). Enjoy! 🙂
Alpenglow hues and fresh summer air. Sweet summertime, you can’t possibly get here soon enough!
While aurora borealis sightings are most common during the winter months, in northern and interior Alaska they’ve been known to put on a magical show as early as late-August and throughout September. Plan a fall weekend getaway and camp atop the soft & squishy tundra for a comfortable and colorful road trip detour like you’ve never experienced before.
During the peak of rut (late-September and early October), bull moose will dig rutting pits, fight, and mate. But if you plan a road trip prior to rut, it’s possible that you’ll witness a rare side to nature that is much more serene than what you’d generally experience. Below, two bull moose come together in a friendly introduction where they spend time “feeling each other out” without any aggression (or females around to compete over).
The largest members of the deer family, moose are majestic creatures and even the most seasoned sourdoughs never tire of spotting them throughout the last frontier. Fun fact: Moose can run up to 35 miles per hour.
Witnessing caribou in the wild is an illusive and supremely special sight not to be taken for granted. There are roughly 32 herds of caribou in Alaska totaling over 950,000 animals.
Denali, ‘The Great One!’ With a summit elevation of 20,310 feet, an average of only 30% of visitors to Alaska actually have the opportunity to see the mountain due to cloud cover and weather patterns in the Alaska range changing rapidly. Many Alaska residents have never even seen Denali, all the more reason to plan a road trip in 2020!
Bald eagles found by the hundreds! Alaska’s coastal communities such as Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Yakutat, Seward, Homer, Whittier, Valdez, and many more are known for their spectacular sightings of these gorgeous birds of prey. Fun fact: On average, male bald eagles weigh approximately 25% less than females.
Gorgeous gleaming glaciers, oh my! With the planet warming up, there is no greater time than now to check as many glaciers as possible off your Alaska road trippin’ bucket list.
When the vehicle time becomes a little too claustrophobic, opting for a glacier cruise in Seward, Whittier, Juneau, Valdez, or Glacier Bay National Park is an excellent option. Nothing beats the rush of hearing ice calving and breaking off, bursting down into the sea causing a loud, thundering ripple effect below.
Scientists say that Alaska has roughly 100,000 glaciers with only 650 of them having a name. Hubbard Glacier in eastern Alaska is the longest tidewater glacier at 76-miles long. Exit Glacier in Seward on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula is one of the most road-accessible valley glaciers in the state and among the most popular attractions in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Catching a lynx in the wild is truly remarkable. Even when the lynx yawns in your face (see below), it’s hard not to fall in love with these camouflaged felines.
Cow and her triplets, talk about a special encounter! Breeding season for moose is between September and October, and in late-May or early-June cows give birth. Generally moose give birth to a single calf, but when food is plentiful they will sometimes give birth to two. When you see a cow with triplets (like below) that can mean that one of the calf’s was adopted from another cow that might not have survived. At birth, the babies weight around 25 pounds.
A cow and her yearling spotted roadside in Alaska. Absolutely precious!
When you’re the passenger and not the driver, you often times have the best seat in the house. Keep your eyes peeled for ponds, lakes, and waterways. You never know when you’ll stumble upon wildlife quenching their thirst and pausing sporadically to pose for the camera.
I like big racks and cannot lie! Moose have antlers that can span up to five-feet wide and weigh over 65 pounds.
The Alaska pipeline is a roadside attraction only to be experienced in the mighty 49th state. It is 800 miles in length and spans across 34 major rivers and 800 other streams. At capacity, it can hold 9 million barrels of oil. It cost $8 billion dollars to build in 1977, the largest privately funded construction project at that time.
Who would have thought that spotting a porcupine in the wild would be so darn adorable? From far away, that is. You don’t want to come anywhere near those quills. These creatures are the second largest rodent in Alaska and weigh on average of 15-18 pounds.
Every once in a while you’ll undoubtedly have the urge to get outside the vehicle and stretch your legs. For you thrill-seekers in the crowd, white-water rafting trips can be found all over the great state of Alaska. Nenana, Haines, Cooper Center, Girdwood, Denali, Talkeetna, Willow, and the Mat-Su Valley are just some of the great places to enjoy a splish & splash.
We’ve said it before and we’ll happily shout it from the rooftops, awe-inspiring Valdez, Alaska is famously known as the land of majestic waterfalls. A detour here on your ultimate Alaska life road trip is an absolute MUST.
Hop on a glacier cruise or bring your binoculars and keep your eyes on Alaska’s 6,640 miles of coastline from your roadside journey. You never know when you’ll experience the rush of a magnificent whales tail as it jumps out of the water and crashes down into the water right before your very eyes. Alaska is home to humpback, gray, orca, and beluga whales.
When you road trip to Alaska via the Yukon, the wood bison are fascinating to encounter in staggering numbers. However in the state you will find plains bison, typically in the Delta River area of Interior Alaska.
Nothing screams Alaska like the sights and sounds of the historic Alaska Railroad chugging alongside the road.
Looking for another great read? This Alaska road trip will lead you through the most treasured tiny towns. You might also enjoy The Alaska Life’s ultimate fishing fanatics road trip.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley